It’s coming. You and I both know it. Soon, Presque Isle’s woods will seem silent and deep as winter’s snows begin to arrive to paint a beautiful scene on the park. Yes, all will seem quiet and you might believe the park has passed into a time for hibernation. But if you stop and look at the tracks in the snow, they will tell a different story.
Why not help the children in your life unravel the secretive world of winter wildlife by becoming a nature Sherlock Holmes. All you really need is an adventuresome spirit, a blanket of snow, and a trip to Presque Isle. One way to prepare yourself and your favorite young adventurer is to join one of the Naturalists from the park at an upcoming winter animal presentation. Decembers are as follows:
December 12 – – 7-8:30 pm Fire with the Naturalist – – Cottontail Rabbit
Rotary Pavilion Cost $ 2.00
Registration Requested – 833-7424
December 28 – – 2 -3:30 pm Winter Animals of Presque Isle
TREC – – – No cost
Winter at the park is an amazing time, and taking a child with you makes it even more enjoyable. The trails will soon be snow covered and the leaves will be hiding under this quieting blanket. This is an excellent time to go for a walk and look for wildlife and wildlife tracks. Finding tracks in fresh snow is easy. If you take the time to learn to read these tracks, you can look like a hero to the young person in your life. And, by the way, your hikes will be more enjoyable, and this knowledge will make you more alert to what wildlife are in the area where you walk.
Like a thumbprint, every animal leaves a track that is distinctive to its kind. Of course, the best place to start studying these tracks is in your own backyard. What will you likely find? Well, in my backyard I found squirrels, raccoons, many birds, mice and even the neighborhood cats paw prints. Recently I discovered a wonderful website that has a long list and examples of tracks that you might find on Presque Isle. It is www.bear-tracker.com/mammals.html.
Keep in mind animals don’t just wander about aimlessly. Whether in your yard, a trail on Presque Isle, a meadow or maybe at Asbury Woods, their tracks generally lead to a place where food, water or shelter is available. If you want to find tracks, then think like an animal and put yourself into their “paws,” so to speak. For example, smaller mammals – often a source of food for hawks, eagles and larger wildlife species – sensibly stay close to cover for safety.
For tracking purposes, the best snow is not too deep or fluffy. If you are like me, don’t rely on your memory to remember details of the print you find. A note pad, digital camera and a ruler can be a big help.
Not only is tracking fun, it gets you outdoors during a time of year when we spend far too much time in the lazyboy and on the couch. If you do rustle-up a child, it is even better for both you and the child. Even when identification remains a mystery, just knowing that you and your companion have come across the path of a wild creature is thrilling all on its own.
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