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Tracking animals in the snow


Yesterday I went on a walk to the Pheasant woods with dad. We went to check on how the buried fox and squirrel were doing (they haven't fully rotted yet) and to get to the place where we buried them, we had to walk across a huge field where sheep normally are.

There have been no sheep in the field for ages, and there had been fresh snow overnight, so it was great for seeing all types of animal footprints. Here are some of the ones we saw:

Pheasant footprints

The pheasant woods are full of pheasants, and at this time of year people pay to shoot them. The pheasants try to hide and find new bits of the wood to live in, so you find their footprints everywhere.

Pheasants have three toes, like a lot of birds. The middle toe is longer, and there is sometimes a bit coming off the back of the foot as well. Sometimes you see lines between the footprints. We thought this might be the tail dragging, but it's probably just where the snow was so deep that the pheasant's feet drag in the snow.

Rabbit footprints

There are loads of rabbits that live in the woods.

Rabbit footprints are strange because of the way they move about. They have two footprints side by side at the front, on in the middle, and one at the back, so this rabbit was moving left to right in the photo. If you look carefully you can see clawmarks in the footprints.

Bird footprints

In the middle of the field we found lots of footprints that came out of nowhere, then went away again. Sometimes you would see odd lines where the footprints started.

These were where birds had landed, and the lines were where the tips of their wings and tail had brushed the snow. They were probably jackdaws or rooks, but they might have been buzzards as well. Here is another one where you can see the lines on the left.

Dog footprints

Sometimes you see people walking their dogs in the woods. I think this dog was big because of the spaces between the footprints:

It might even have been the gamekeeper's dog which is called Corrie.

Fox footprints

A fox footprint is different from a dog footprint. On a dog footprint, all the toes are next to the pad of the foot. On a fox, you have two toes, then two more toes with a space in between them, then the pad.

There were two sets of fox footprints, one going away from the woods towards the village, and another set coming back. The set coming back looked like this:

I don't know what the other lines are. Maybe it was another small animal, like a mouse, that went along the same path. Or maybe the fox killed something, and a bit was hanging out its mouth and dragging on the snow. I think it was probably a small animal because sometimes the lines are closer together to each other.

When we were walking, we saw a fox in the distance, going back to the woods.

Roe deer hoofprints

Deer have two main hooves on each foot, around each toe. They have little toes on the back of the foot, but they don't touch the ground. Their shape is quite distinctive, but you can sometimes get them mixed up with sheep.

These footprints were from roe deer because of their size and because only roe deer live in the Pheasant Woods.

What animal could this be ?

I don't know what animal this is. The black thing is Dad's glove, so you can see how small the footprints are. I think it might be a mouse or a stoat or something like that. Do you know ?

Cat footprints

These last footprints are from outside my house. They were made by Eisie, one of my pussy cats !

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Katie said...

What are the tracks in the very first picture ?

Jake said...

They are my tracks !

I dragged my feet and went from side to side to make a shape like the DNA shape. On the way back I did the same thing but the other way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. We were able to determine that the tracks in my boss' yard this morning were rabbit tracks. You have a great website. Going to go home and show my 10 year old son tonight. :)

Jake said...

Thanks Mary ! Glad it helped !

Moosecrossingfarm said...

Jake, thanks for your observations on the animals tracks. I live in Vermont, USA. We have awesome winters with lots of snow. I was snow shoeing with friends last weekend. We came across many similar tracks.

I was a bit baffled by the rabbit tracks and which direction that they traveled. Thanks for your help.

We get some really unusual tracks that I am not sure that you get in Scotland. Moose, Bear, Wolf and Fisher Cats.( they are similar to mountain lions only smaller)

I somehow stumbled on your blog when I clicked on an outdoor stores website. (REI is the name of the store) Keep up the great work..

Diane L
Brownington, Vermont, USA

Jake said...

Cool ! I wish we had wolves and bears in Scotland ! We used to but they died out years ago.

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