Wildlife Tracking Video; Red Fox

The snow is slowly leaving us here in New England.  Before it turned to slush and ice I got out to do some tracking in beautiful conditions.  In this video I go into detail on how to distinguish Red Fox from other species without using measurements.  I also include a good explanation of a few ways to tell canine from feline and, we see a bit of hunting behavior by our friend the fox.

Thanks for watching. Please like and subscribe.  If you want to learn more about tracking first hand go to my school’s website www.threeredtrees.com

Maine Primitive Gathering 2013

 

This year at the Maine Primitive Gathering I only took a few pictures.  The Gathering has come to be so important to me, a chance to see so many special people and feel part of a community that shares a common interest.  My time there this year was abbreviated so I was not able to connect with as many of those special people as I wanted to.

The images here do not begin to do justice to the scope and dynamic nature of the Gathering.  I was too busy enjoying myself to take pictures that might express this better.  Dozens of instructors taught workshops about archery, bow and arrow making, friction fire of all types, tracking, survival skills, health and healing, and many other primitive and wilderness skills.  Many families attended, I saw a lot of little babies on their mothers hips and kids running everywhere.  What follows are a few examples of what went on.

 

Primitive Skills Experts

Some oldtimers and whippersnappers Mike, Al, Nick, Red and Bob, all experts in one field or another, there to share the knowledge.

 

 

 

Maine Primitive Gathering

One of many workshops.

Hide Tanning

Hide tanning.

 

Garlic Hawkers

Garlic Hawkers Rich, Gabby and Maple

Boys at the campfire

Some of the boys hanging out around the fire.

Fire Workshop

A  fire workshop on group friction fire.  Here they are teaming up on a giant hand drill.

Someone saw me looking around for my daughter and our friends and asked “Looking for your tribe?” and I thought, yeah I am, my tribe within a tribe.  In this place I am a member of the the Gathering Tribe, the Fire Clan, the Deneen, Andy, Gabby, Jace, Evan, Dena, Maple Tribe (my “extended” family) and the Long Time Instructor Society.

Pardon my sentimental words.  To be part of something meaningful is a great feeling and a tough thing to explain.

White Memorial Conservation Centers 2013 BioBlitz

Red Fox Tracks

Deneen and I had the opportunity to put our tracking to good use for the Mammal Team at White Memorials BioBlitz over the weekend.  For 24 hours a large team of scientists, experts and volunteers counted every living species on White Memorials 4000+ acres of very diverse habitat.  The final count was 931 species.  The Mammal Team counted 31 species, many of which were identified by tracks or sign.  There were also direct observations, live traps, and audio monitoring for bats.

Here was the Mammal team’s list and how they were identified.

Human    direct observation

Domestic Dog tracks and direct observation

Domestic Cat tracks and direct observation

Coyote   scat

Domestic Horse  scat, tracks, direct observation

Domestic Cow   direct observation

Red Fox   tracks

Raccoon   tracks, scat

Opossum   tracks

River Otter   scat

Long-tailed Weasel   tracks

Striped Skunk    scent

Woodchuck    direct observation

Porcupine    feeding sign on trees

Muskrat   scat, tracks, direct observation

Beaver   tracks, feeding sign, dam and lodges, direct observation

Bobcat   tracks

Jumping Mouse spp   tracks

Grey Squirrel   tracks, direct observation

Red Squirrel   track

Chipmunk   tracks, direct observation

White-footed Mouse   (the Mammal Team leader found evidence, I forgot to ask him what kind)

Meadow Vole   caught in live trap

Mole spp  tunnels

Little Brown Bat    audio monitoring

Big Brown Bat   direct observation, audio monitoring

Silver Haired Bat    audio monitoring

Red Bat    audio monitoring

Hoary Bat    audio monitoring

Eastern Cottontail   direct observation ( I could not completely rule out New England Cottontail which are know to be on the property in a different location)

White-tailed Deer    tracks, scat, direct observation

I also share some images from our time on the land.  At the top of the page are Red Fox tracks.

Long Tailed Weasel Tracks

Above Long-tailed Weasel tracks, below a painted turtle laying here eggs.

Painted Turtle laying eggs

Sunrise Litchfield Country Club

Above the Litchfield Country Club Golf Course at dawn (the clubs land is part of the White Memorial Foundation).

Below a spider in its web (sp unknown)

Spider Web

Turtle Tracks

Above turtle tracks, below a beaver trail.

Beaver tracks

Raccoon Tracks

Above Raccoon tracks along with bird tracks (possibly Killdeer or similar).

Below Muskrat tracks.

Muskrat Tracks

Osprey mobbed by Red-winged Black Bird

Above Osprey pestered by a Red-winged Black Bird, Below nest and eggs of a Northern Water Thrush located under bank of a small stream (one of the Bird Team identified it for us).

Northern Water Thrush eggs and nest

Jumping Mouse Tracks

Above Jumping Mouse sp tracks, below old Porcupine feeding sign (missing patches of bark)

Porcupine Feeding Sign

Otter Scat

Otter scat.

We spent all of the second half of the 24 hours searching for just a few more species, we already counted all but 2 or 3 of the final number by early morning (the time went from 3:13p on Friday till 3:13 p on Saturday). Several species we knew were there eluding us including Mink, Fisher, Bear, Shrews, more mice and voles.

Being Wrong, Skunk Tracks

Skunk tracks wmcc

 

Three Red Trees lead a tracking walk at White Memorial Conservation Center a few days ago.  I had gone ahead to scout and found these tracks pictured here.  They were quite small and covered some distance in the open.  They were beautiful and I was excited. I thought they were Longtailed Weasel and told the group so when they came later.  I even convinced Deneen.  We both thought on first seeing them that they were skunk but they were so small, much smaller looking that all the other skunk tracks we had been seeing recently that I called it wrong.  It was not until I got home and looked at these pictures without the pressure of an audience, that I saw that the foot morphology was all wrong for weasel and all right for skunk.

 

In my defense the first bit of track I came across was this confusing section below that I mistook for some sort of 3 by 4 bound.  I still don’t know what was going on there.

 

Skunk unknown gait, pattern Skunk tracks lope

 

Skunk tracks

Mouse or Vole?

small mammal tracks

I struggle with differentiating mouse from vole tracks when behavioral clues are not obvious.  Voles, at least the commonest of souther New England, baseline movement (sometime known as harmonic gate) is a trot while mice move in a bound most of the time.  Of course they are each capable of both gates as well as others.  There are distinctions in the foot morphology but I have not looked at enough clear tracks of these species to reliably see these differences with confidence.

mouse tracks

The creature in these pictures moved in a protected area close to cover most likely exploring the cracks and holes in the frozen sand at the bottom of a big eroded drainage.  All kinds of things blow in there from the sand barren-like wild blueberry fields above.

Mouse or vole tracks in sand

The measurements I took fit into several mouse and vole species.  Some of the morphology is apparent but not consistent.  In some sets the right foot looks different than the left.

small rodent tracks walking Mouse or vole tracks bounding

If I have it right the toes of voles show more connection to the pads giving them a finger like appearance.  I don’t really see that in these tracks.  These do however walk a great deal like a vole is more likely to do.

There were a few bounds mixed in as well.

small mammal tracks bounding

 

Every time I think I got this tracking thing licked I find something else to learn.

Skunk Tracks Through the Yard

Skunk lope

 

Woke up the other day to these wonderful tracks outside the house.  A skunk, no doubt looking for a mate, galloped down the path from the driveway past the basement door.  I can tell its a lope because to start with the track pattern is in a broken rhythm, there is a space between each set of four.  The next thing to look for is where the front and hind feet fall in relation to each other.  Above the tracks of the hind feet both land past the tracks of the front feet.  In the below photo one hind foot does not land past both front feet but beside it.  That is a lope.

skunk tracks in snow

What does it matter?  Well it is reflection of how the animal is moving and possibly its state of urgency.  Often in tracking information can be hard to come by and any more of it is welcome.

Skunk gallop pattern

March 9 we are leading a free tracking walk at White Memorial Nature Center in Litchfield CT.  Come learn more about tracking with us.

skunk tracks on the driveway.

Tracking Peoples State Forest

Went out tracking today.  The snow was good, a layer of powder several inches deep on a layer of crust, then more loose snow.  Forgot my snowshoes so it was a bit of work to get around.  In the end I walked several miles. Here’s what I saw.  

Deer Trail

Trailed this deer and the others with it.  Not far from the road where I picked up the trail I found them but not before they found me.

Deer Bed in Snow

I spooked them out of there day beds and watched the last one leave.  It moved away slowly, stopping and looking back before bounding away.  I did not have the camera out so no picture.  It wouldnt have looked like much anyway.  The deer were bedded in the laurel on a flat bit of ground on a hillside.  As I approached I knew it could be a bedding area and even thought to crawl but felt that if I crawled over every rise I would never see anything.  Hard to be patient.

 

 

Peoples Forest

 

Beaver Brook Pond, sunny and beautiful.

 

 

Unknown Small Mammal Tracks in Snow

Little mammal tracks.  Some others showed a fairly short tail.  They are small enough to consider shrew or the smallest mice.  They were on the swamp ice.  I went through several times and retreated.

 

Mink Tracks

 

Upstream on Beaver Brook a Mink slide.  It was the only sign of Mink all day.

 

Peoples State Forest

 

 

Otter Tracks

 

On the way out found these older Otter slides.  They went on for a couple hundred yards.

River Otter Tracks

End of Otter Trail

 

Above is where they eventually went into Beaver Brook.  Below is as far as I went in the other direction, about 200 yards.  I ran out of steam and headed home.  The next body of water in that direction is the Farmington River more than half a mile away.

Otter Tracks on Snow

A Little Snake and a Beaver in its Lodge.

Herps
A small Brown Snake

Deneen and I went to Roraback Preserve a couple weeks ago where we came across this little Brown Snake. I have never seen one before but read they are rather common.

Deneen by Beaver Lodge

We sat down for a break by this beaver lodge and quickly heard a beaver slap its tail on the water.  It swam around for a couple minutes then dove under the water and went into the lodge right in front of us.  We listened to it shake off and have a snack while it was in there.   It was a very cool experience.

Beaver in the water

htht

Swimming Beaver

First Woodcock Sighting of the Year

Deneen and I witnessed two Woodcocks competing in their courting ritual on Tuesday Feb 21 just after dusk. Yesterday morning the 22 we heard another one in a different location (our house) just before dawn. Last year we first noticed them in the middle of March. It has been unseasonably warm here in CT this winter but maybe they always start this early.

Deer carcass visitors on camera

I placed a smallish road killed deer in front of our game camera in a high wildlife traffic area. In this and posts to come I will document what animals came to investigate and feed off of the carcass. As you will see by looking at the dates and times on the bottom of the pictures it was there for a while before anything but birds actually ate from it. The coyote seemed particularly shy, maybe do the the flash of the camera. Evidently they all got used to it after a while.

Placing deer carcass

Thats us carrying it out in front of cameras former position.  It will be moved 20 yards or so into the woods from this position.

Crows

No disturbance the first night.  Crows come the next day, eventually many of them every day.

Vulture
First vulture

Vultures come on day 2 and are present until 11 am.  Nothing has visited on night 2.

Vultures arrive
Raccoon visits carcass

The first night time visitor is on night 3 when a Raccoon shows up but does not feed from carcass.  Some crows come around the following day, day 3.

Shy Coyote

On night 4 a shy Eastern Coyote comes by and from 11:06 to 11:10 moves in and out but does not feed from the carcass.  We found this strange.  I have read that coyotes become suspicious of bait placed by humans if they have experienced trapping but have know reason to believe there has ever been trapping in the area.  The coyotes here, probably this very one, has eaten the suit I have put out in the past using my bare hands and must be familiar with my scent and humans in general.  All this is taking place in a patchy rural and suburban landscape.

Coyote
Red Tailed Hawk scavenges

Day 4 a Red Tailed Hawk comes on the scene.  I did not know them for scavengers but it comes at least twice on this day feeding.

Red Tailed Hawk
White Tailed Deer investigates carcass of another Deer

Night 4, 2 Deer come.  This made me feel bad.

Female Bobcat shows up at Deer carcass

Now things start getting interesting.  Closer to dawn on night 4 our resident female Bobcat gives it a sniff but does not feed yet.  In the next post you will see more of this animal and other large predators get down to business.