Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Seeing And The Art Of Tracking

Today was a perfect day to track animals in what is left of the rained-on snow.  I might not have ventured out with the camera, but something extraordinary happened!  As you can see here the stone patio is a high traffic area in the winter.  The rodents that make me EEK! in the good weather have a veritable highway system in place.  My best guess about the footprints on the left is that they were made by a skunk.  These are all old tracks from animals that went by hours or even a day or two ago.  The extraordinary thing is that this morning, from the bedroom window, I got to see an Eastern coyote loping along from Ed's temporary stone pile up to the woods.  From there he took a zigzag path up the hill through the trees.  I watched as he stopped under the larch tree and marked a spot  scratching in the dirt with his back feet.  From there I watched him move along the ridge until he disappeared in the brush.

I can hardly explain how thrilled I am when I have an opportunity to watch wildlife from our comfortable house.  I would not likely follow fresh coyote tracks but the coyote was  long gone.  For once I knew that I was definitely looking at coyote tracks.  I saw him with my own eyes.  I was not going to miss this chance.

This is a set of coyote tracks.  I don't know if just three marks is unusual, but the coyote in question seemed to be moving fine and at a relaxed gait.

According to my book, Tracking and the Art of Seeing,  the oval footprint with toenails makes this a definite coyote print.  Dog footprints are more round.  For once I am 100% confident in my footprint identification.  I saw it being made!

I placed my hand next to the print to measure the size.  3.5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide is right at the top of the range of track size for an Eastern coyote.  Perhaps it was the Alpha male in this territory.  I know from past experience that February is when the coyotes around here mate.  The timing is perfect for the pups to be born in the spring.  From the looks of the rodent tunnels, there will be plenty of food in the garden for a coyote family!  The Stone Wall Garden has been a playground for coyote pups before.  I would love an Encore performance!


Beth @ PlantPostings said...

Well, that's exciting! Our snow is so gutted with debris and rain now that I'm not making out many tracks. Warm weather on the weekend should melt the remaining snow. Tracking wildlife is one fun thing about snow!

Indie said...

Wow, how cool! I have friends in the area that have seen coyotes, but I have yet to see one here. I did see a red fox in the yard the other day, and I often see tracks for deer and rodents. I love seeing signs of wildlife out there (except when they are eating my plants, anyway)!