With the impending arrival of spring, animal activity is increasing throughout the Upper Delaware River region. While March 20 heralds the official arrival of this most welcome season, there are …
With the impending arrival of spring, animal activity is increasing throughout the Upper Delaware River region. While March 20 heralds the official arrival of this most welcome season, there are still good opportunities to observe the evidence of our furred and feathered neighbors as their lives evolve with this transitional time.
Typically, our region will experience several late winter-weather events through March, and often into April. As the final snows fly, seize the opportunity to amble about, watching for animal signs along forested trails or less-traveled roads. Following snow season is the inevitable emergence of the mud that comes along with rising temperatures and ground thaw. Both snow and mud (and wet sand) allow for good tracking.
Animals and birds on the move leave ample signs of their whereabouts. Even if the creature itself is unavailable for observation, the evidence of its passing will confirm its presence. Field guides, a smartphone and appropriate apps are good tools to have on hand as you investigate your finds and work to identify the creatures you’re tracking. Take along a small tape measure, notebook and pencil for quick measurements and sketches in the field.
Good tracking skills are developed over time, as one learns to differentiate between gait patterns like ambling, bounding, galloping, loping and side-trotting—a form of fast trotting common to the dog family (canids). As your knowledge increases, you will know what a “dragline” is (a line created by a foot or tail dragging over snow or mud) and recognize a “sitzmark” when you see it (the impression left by an animal falling or jumping from a rock or tree).
Moreover, you’ll be interfacing with the endless wonders of the natural world, taking in fresh air and sunlight while waking your winter-weary senses to the invigorating energy of spring!
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