Animal tracks

The boardwalk through the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park is a great laboratory for studying animal tracks, such as the following tracks made by a couple of common mid-size mammals whose muddy feet left prints on the recycled plastic boards. Many animals, such as raccoon and fox, use the boardwalk to navigate the hemi-marsh when they are either hunting for prey or escaping from predators.

The first photo shows raccoon (Procyon lotor lotor) tracks.

Raccoon tracks

The next three photos show fox tracks, probably red fox (Vulpes vulpes fulva), the more common of two confirmed species of fox found at Huntley Meadows Park.

Fox tracks

Fox tracks

Fox tracks

Thanks to Meagan Keefe, Program Manager at Huntley Meadows Park, for kindly verifying my tentative field identification of animal tracks spotted during a photowalk on 27 December 2013. Raccoon tracks are relatively easy to identify. Most of my uncertainty arose from the fact that the fox tracks shown in the Purdue University Track Identification Guide look a little different on a hard surface (such as the boardwalk) versus a soft surface (such as mud). It’s reassuring to know my thinking was on the right track. (Ugh, BAD pun intended!)

Related Resources: Mike Powell, fellow wildlife photographer and blogger, is an early-riser who has spotted many of the animals at Huntley Meadows Park that tend to be more active at night. Mike’s good fortune is the result of an intense drive that takes him often to the right spot at the right time.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Animal tracks”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Walter, and the links to some of my blog postings. I too often see the tracks early in the morning and wonder what goes on at night on the boardwalk. In addition to the tracks of the animals that you posted (and you are much, much better than I am in identifying the tracks), there are muskrats that hang around the boardwalk and an occasional otter and beavers, though I don’t know if they all stick exclusively to the water. In addition, there are supposed to be coyotes in the park, but I sure hope they don’t venture onto the boardwalk.

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