March 29, 2010

March: Tracking Outing to Potholes Dunes

This month the tracking apprenticeship took an exciting day out to track and trail in the Potholes Dunes near Moses Lake. This trip was focused on preparing for the tracking evaluations coming up later this spring.

This area is a wonderfully diverse landscape where there is a mosaic of both desert and wetlands habitats blending. Some of the animals found here are not found on the west, rain side of the mountains. Others are found on both sides of the mountains. The tracks in this photo lead between one patch of wetlands to another. If you look closely, you can even see the webbing between some of the toes. These are the tracks of a large, aquatic member of the weasel family.

Here, Matt and Kyle grin at this hilarious find. A coyote apparently dragged its backside down the hill through the sand, then continued on its merry way off to the left! Guess it had an itch. You never know what you might find when you are out tracking.

Here Kyle closely inspects a trail we discovered at end of our day. We had talked about the mysterious grasshopper mouse earlier in the day, and then came upon this... This trail did not seem to match anything we had seen that day. It was a pretty odd gait for such a small mammal, a lot of walking and trotting. This animal went from cover to cover, then started wandering around in the semi-open as if foraging. Perhaps it was hunting?

Had we seen the elusive grasshopper mouse?

We left with that trail as a mysery, having been satiated on plentiful tracks and sunshine.

As we headed home, the fading light glowed behind Mt. Rainer...

We are all looking forward to another outing with Alderleaf Tracking Apprenticeship!

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