Friday, January 21, 2011

LOOK FOR: Footprints in the Snow

Winter is the time of year here in the mid-Atlantic where things become more visible: the lay of the land, the structures of the trees, and the tracks of mammals and birds.

Fox tracks crossing the Northwest Branch
When I was a kid, we had invisible markers that we could use to write a secret message a piece of paper. The only way to reveal the message was using another special marker that when you drew over what was scribbled, the message became visible.

A light coat of snow accomplishes a similar phenomenon. All around us, creatures are moving about making invisible marks. Many are secretive, shying away from humans or making their rounds in the early morning. When I take a walk in the woods, I have no clue that a fox uses the same path during its early morning hunts. But, the snow reveals it all. You can even tell when the fox was walking, trotting, or running by the pattern its prints leave in the snow.

So, get out before the snow gets too trampled and follow a trail. All will be revealed!

Here are some different tracks that you may encounter in the snow. Once you learn them, you can find them year-round in muddy areas along streams or puddles.