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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tracking at NBNC Winter Camp


With a fresh dusting of powder atop the hardened snowy crust, conditions were perfect for tracking at NBNC today. Shortly after arriving at the Winter Wonders February Vacation Camp, our group headed outside to put our tracking skills to the test. A fresh set of tracks had been laid the night before, right next to our education barn. After using our newly acquired tracking skills, the group determined that these tracks came from a member of the weasel family due to their ‘bounding’ pattern. And after measuring their size (about 4.5 cm) we determined them to be Mink tracks! But where did the Mink come from and where was it going? We began to follow the trail to find out.

Studying Snowshoe Hare tracks
After following the tracks through the snowy field, we came across a junction between another set of tracks, which we learned to be fox.  But which kind of fox? A scent mark we came upon gave us a clue.  The pungent, skunk-smelling pee is a tell-tale sign of Red Fox!  We kept following, and came to some deep tracks, sunken at least a foot into the snow.   We determined them to be deer, a much heavier animal capable of sinking so deep.  We continued on.

After following the tracks into a small grove of hemlocks, we found even more tracks criss-crossing around.  Red Squirrel had been busy running from tree-to-tree.  And to our surprise, we found a nice set of Snowshoe Hare tracks!  Later, we located the hare’s path through the fields, and measured an astounding 15 feet that the hare had covered in just 2 jumps!
measuring the stride of the Snowshoe Hare

All this was seen within 100 yards of the NBNC building. We got a glimpse into all the animal movement that takes place at NBNC while we’re not looking.  After arriving back to the barn for snack, the group mapped the path of these animals as they traveled about.  It was an exciting start to our day of camp!
Our tracking map

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