September 13, 2009

Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship Adventures!

This Saturday was the start of another year of the Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship at Alderleaf. It was an amazing day of tracking along the Snohomish and the Skykomish Rivers. We observed a long list of species and their tracks including mink, muskrat, Norway rat, great blue heron, turkey vulture, bullfrog, raccoon and many others. As we traveled from one amazing set of tracks to another, we picked up the relatively fresh trail of a pair of elk. We trailed them over sand, silt, mud, gravel and even through water!

From Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship Day 1

As we covered ground, we came upon more and more amazing sights. It was at the end of the day that we had the greatest treat of all... Two ospreys on the ground and in the water! Osprey are on the ground only extremely rarely, and when we saw them take off we ran over to take a look. What we found was so amazing it was almost like finding the tracks of a mythical creature! The tracks were so strange... the contortions made by the toes and talons in order to allow this bird to walk are amazing and extreme. It is a great demonstration of how strongly adapted this bird is to catching fish.

From Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship Day 1

We found the trails of both birds. Both landed on the silty bar sticking out in a slow stretch of river, and walked rather awkwardly into the water to bath.

From Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship Day 1

You can see in this photo how the tracks lead into the river, and how they one nearest the water is the drag marks left behind by the one of the birds tails.

Overall all, it was a fantastic day of adventure with the Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship!

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