More Mysteries on the Beach

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Hi Everyone!

A short time back I posted some pictures from a morning I spent with animal trackers at the beach (http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=128627!). The pictures showed some unusual tracks and forum members chimed in to share their thoughts about the animal that made them. I really enjoyed the creative reasoning and expertise everyone shared.

Here are a few remaining pictures from that day. We had several more mysteries to solve and I thought you might be interested in thinking about them too.


Great Blue Heron or a Great Egret?
We found the large tracks of a wading bird. Were they from a heron or an egret? The hallux holds the key (There's a sentence you don't see everyday! :)).


17-Heron.jpg



Raven or Crow?
Besides size, there is a characteristic of raven tracks that distinguish them from crow tracks. Can you see the "ice cream cone?"


20-Raven.jpg



For those in North America, these tracks need no introduction. We are all familiar with the rascal that made them. But if you reside in the UK, you probably have not seen them before. Notice how the front paws look just like human hands? Each pair of tracks is a front (smaller) and a rear (larger) from opposite sides of the animal. I wish I had plaster to make casts!...


15-IdealRaccoonTrail.jpg



Within about 30 feet we found signs of 5 different species. If you are interested, I placed annotated pictures of the tracks, along with my thoughts (here).

Regards!

- Woodsorrel
 

baggins

Full Member
Apr 20, 2005
1,504
242
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Coventry (and up trees)
nice one Woodsorrel,
i got the bottom one (won"t spoil it for everyone else yet, lol).
but it really is interesting to see the small differences that distinguish different species.
looks like a lovely spot to have a day out.
 
nice one Woodsorrel,
i got the bottom one (won"t spoil it for everyone else yet, lol).
but it really is interesting to see the small differences that distinguish different species.
looks like a lovely spot to have a day out.


baggins, I'm surprised you got the bottom one so quickly, since the animal does not inhabit the UK. How did you figure it out?

It was a terrific day to be at the beach. Even if we had not found interesting tracks, it is always wonderful just to breathe the bracing fresh air coming off the ocean.

- Woodsorrel
 

mountainm

Bushcrafter through and through
Jan 12, 2011
9,990
11
Selby
www.mikemountain.co.uk
If what your are saying is that they are asymmetrical then you're saying I'm wrong. But the sand is very soft and the heron tracks I've seen are far more asymmetrical than that. I'd need some other feature to be sure.
 
If what your are saying is that they are asymmetrical then you're saying I'm wrong. But the sand is very soft and the heron tracks I've seen are far more asymmetrical than that. I'd need some other feature to be sure.

mountainm, it is probably my poor photography!

I added this picture (shown below) to the link, where I also show a right/left pair. Do you think this will help?

Maybe these tracks are not as asymmetrical as people are accustomed to seeing? I will have to go out and find more Great Blue Heron tracks to compare with these. Fun! :)


HeronAbove-Annotated.jpg



- Woodsorrel
 

mountainm

Bushcrafter through and through
Jan 12, 2011
9,990
11
Selby
www.mikemountain.co.uk
mountainm, it is probably my poor photography!

I added this picture (shown below) to the link, where I also show a right/left pair. Do you think this will help?

Maybe these tracks are not as asymmetrical as people are accustomed to seeing? I will have to go out and find more Great Blue Heron tracks to compare with these. Fun! :)


HeronAbove-Annotated.jpg



- Woodsorrel

I dunno - I'm going from books not personal experience. But disregarding the asymmetry you said there was another indicator to do with the toe?
 
I dunno - I'm going from books not personal experience...

Bear in mind that animals do not read the same textbooks we do! :) Substrate, terrain, the age of the animal, and individual differences all cause tracks to differ from what we see in books. Think about how different David Beckham looks compared to Danny DeVito. They are both adult humans! But they would leave very different tracks on the trail.

For this reason it is important to get out and look at tracks. You will develop a "sight dictionary" that will help you identify them. Plus, it's fun!


... But disregarding the asymmetry you said there was another indicator to do with the toe?


With herons it is primarily the asymmetry. I tell left from right in that the "outer toe" is usually spread wider than the inner one. The hallux is positioned toward the center of the animal. The two should be consistent over a set of tracks. Although it's hard to see, the picture above is a left foot.

I did mention that the toe-pad of the hallux can be used to differentiate raven from crow. Ravens have a pad on the hallux, closest to the metatarsal, that has a trapezoidal shape. The top of this pad is wider than the toe. One of the other trackers described this as an "ice cream cone" shape. I like that description! There is an annotated picture in the link. Crows have a pad that is the same width as the toe, when it shows at all.

There may be more experienced trackers reading this thread. I hope they pitch-in with more information.

- Woodsorrel
 
Last edited:

baggins

Full Member
Apr 20, 2005
1,504
242
46
Coventry (and up trees)
Hi Woodsorrel,

the Racoon was easy as i've spent a lot of time camping in Canada and trying to work out what was trying to break into my food bins, lol! a local trapper showed me the tracks and we spent an hour looking at Racoon, otter, chipmunk and cougar tracks.
The guy was live trapping cougars to send down to California to help the repopulation Scheme. I was so lucky to meet him.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,853
1,069
64
Florida
.....The guy was live trapping cougars to send down to California to help the repopulation Scheme. I was so lucky to meet him.

Down to California? They still have a cougar encroachment problem and no repopulation plans. Do you mean Florida?
 

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