Bobcat hunting lay and Coyote pack gathering.

 Bobcat trail up under the powerlines near my house.  If you look deep into the track you can see the asymmetry typical of the felines. 

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 I followed him ( I think it was a hime because of the size of the tracks and stride of the trail), up the hillside and found this spot.  He entered from the left, the fanlike impressions toward the top of picture are from its front feet and forlegs as it moved back and forth changing is view. 

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Bobcats and other felines hunt very much like humans do, using stealth and their sense of site and hearing to locate prey.  This requires stopping often to look and listen, in this case the bobcat created what is called a hunting lay where he sat for a long period of time watching the hillside from above for any prey.  Below is a picture from the Bobcats vantage. 

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At the top of the hill just above the Bobcat’s hunting lay, I found these tracks of some Coyotes gathering in there nightly rendezvous.  I have heard the pack howling to each other many times in the night coming together to reinforce family bonds and share in the hunt.  As you can see in the picture below they are not shy about partying near human habitation.

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These prints where just steps from the gathering spot pictured lower down.  I had seen tracks such as these before near pack gathering places and did not quite have the confidence to call them what I believe they are.  I have seen them enough now that I am willing to say it is the spot where the initiating Coyote stood to begin the howling after which the others would have answered and then headed to the spot.  The animal came in from the left leaving tracks of its front feet once then again to the right in pairs.  The added depth of the pair of tracks furthest to the right suggest a lingering and shifting of weight.  I take this as signs of its raising its head and straining with the emotion of its song.   Upon hearing one of its comrades aproach from behind it turned around to meet it. 

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This is looking back toward the direction of the Bobcat lay.  To the right is the gathering spot where the Coyotes greeted each other, testing pack hierarchies with posturing and muzzle licking and maybe some good natured romping. 

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 Adjacent is a scent marking, something I see with each of these gatherings, part of the complex visual, olfactory and vocal comunication system these neighbors of mine use amungst themselves and for the benifit of strangers.   Look close and don’t eat the yellow snow. 

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Coyote Kill site?

In field behind my house we came upon these tracks telling a story to us.  My interpretation of that story is as follows.
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A female Coyote, by the size of her tracks, used my old tracks in the deep snow as she crossed the field.  Both canines and felines often use old prints and trails to make walking in the snow easier, always looking for efficiency in use of calories.  Upon hearing or smelling something under the snow she varied from her path, walking slowly toward the source of the sound.

 

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This is the direct registering walk just preceding the attack.

 

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Just before the large disturbance of the attack she hesitates probably more than once as shown by the mis-regestering tracks.  Then she moves right for the initial pounce, stomping and lunging at what was probably a vole under the snow. 

 

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She then followed the little rodent as it moved under the snow to the upper left of this picture and pounced again.  I imagine at this point she was either successful or gave up because from here she walks away speeding up into an overstep walk, pictured below that signifies a brisk pace where the hind feet surpass where the front feet have just stepped.  You can see this below, the hind feet are the smaller ones just ahead of the larger front track. 

 

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Finally she walks away using an old trotting trail of a coyote, possibly her own, made when the snow was softer.  It is possible that this is a Red Fox trail, it falls within the overlap of measurements between Red Fox and Coyote.  The tracks don’t look like Fox tracks, they are on the tight side like Coyotes and seemed to lack the evidence of the hairy paws of a Fox.  I have not tracked many Fox and in a desire to do so I keep trying to see Fox in Coyote tracks when really it is pretty clear these are Coyote.

My friend Mal and I got out a couple weeks ago up in Wells Maine to do some tracking. Here is a White Tailed Deer skull we found left by hunters and scavenged by a smallish bird. I have guessed its size to be about that of a Jay. Only the tail marks were visible to us as it had landed and taken off right there beside the skull. There are the tail marks in front of my fingers.
Mal showed me where there has been some extensive Porcupine damage to a stand of Douglas Fir. Here is one example.
And, in my book, the coolest find of the day, as it elicited much discussion between us on gates and behaviours, are these tracks of a Coyote descending a hill in a trot on the right then ascending in a bound/gallop, depending on who’s terms you use.
The two tracks on the right side are the trot down and the four on the left belong to the up hill gallop track group. The uphill movement would have used the power of the animals rear-end hence the large space between track groups.
Andy

Coyote Tracking at Beaver Brook

I was out tracking and came upon these coyote tracks.

The tracks were in this strange lope. It looked like the animal was kicking its rear feet out to the left side ( you can see the smaller hind tracks out to the left). I stood there for some time trying to figure it out, and the image in my mind was of a happy dog swinging its tail as it pranced about the yard.

I followed the trail only a few more yards and found this.

The whole pack had come together on the swamp ice. Here some coyotes had wrestled together. You can see some knees and elbows in there.

Andy