Tuesday, September 19, 2017

On the Trail of Oregon Tracks

Animal tracks are fascinating and, because so many mammals are nocturnal or elusive, tracks show us what animals are active along the trails we walk.

I took Animal Tracking 101 from Steve Engel at Jackson Bottom Wetlands and here are a few photos. Steve's a great teacher and the other folks in the class were fun and enthusiastic.

First, there is an authentic eagle nest [link] at Jackson Bottom Education Center, one that was previously occupied but abandoned when the tree where it was situated for many years fell.  

We studied tracks using plaster casts.

Track 1.
You might might recognize this one.  Count the toes. Answers at the bottom.

Track 2.
These are pretty impressive, a whole tool kit in those claws.  Definitely a working animal.  How many toes?

Track 3

Front feet and hind feet very different.  And, an opposable "thumb."  Adaptable animal, lives in town and country.  

Then, out on the trail where we looked at small tracks from the day/night before.  This track is heading down and to the right.  It's probably a squirrel, with three center toes and one each to the right and left, totaling five toes.  

[Please feel free to interpret as your fancy takes you, perhaps the midnight ride of Paul Revere?]

Lastly, one other reason why I like Oregon:

Tualatin River at Jackson Bottom

Track 1:  Coyote
Track 2:  Raccoon
Track 3:  Opossum

Halfpenny, J.C. 1999.  Scats and tracks of the Pacific coast.  Helena, Montana: Falcon.