Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Natural Science Adventures for Homeschoolers: Tracks, Tracks, Tracks

Q: How do you find the princess? A: Follow the foot-prince of course!

To kick off our Spring 2010 semester of Natural Science Adventures for Homeschoolers at Sunol Regional Wilderness, naturalist, Katie Colbert taught us tracking basics and why a muddy footprint tells more about an animal than merely where it was going.

We began by making crayon rubbings of our own boot soles and then going out and making prints in the soft mud (courtesy of the ground squirrels and their dirt-digging). Then we swapped locations with another team and tried to match their rubbings with their footprints.

Next, after reviewing mammal tracks of bobcats, mountain lions, house cats, coyotes, gray foxes, squirrels, voles, raccoons, skunks, opossums, cottontails, deer, and feral hogs, we went out on an expedition to locate real prints in the mud. Because we had a hard rain last night, many of the prints we would have seen were washed away.
However, we did see dog and deer prints along the trail and creek area.
The highlight of the trip was the discovery of both a drowned Wood Rat and dead Bufflehead Duck in the creek bed.

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