Monday, November 16, 2009

Animal Tracking: Kids and Critters (and a worm too!)

Last night my cousin Jessica came for a visit with her kids - as the sun went down and they were just arriving I had to think up something fun to do in the dark! Knowing nature related thrill seeking was most likely in their DNA too I suggested we go out in the woods with flashlights, leave out some food on a rock and wait for wild animals to come while we hide. There was no contemplating this one- they grabbed the flashlights and were like "are we going now?"
What I didn't realize was how amazed and adventurous it would be for them to find all the animal tracks I have been following... yippee! After dropping off some food for the resident pig we carried the rest of our bait while following deer, raccoon, and opossum tracks all the way through the orchard to the last apple tree. The tracking calmed their fear of the dark and unknown, the realization that some of the tracks were animals who were literally running away from our noise made them jump with excitement "it was JUST HERE!"
Not only did we have bunches of fun tracking animal prints and carefully looking for prints of animals we did not want to run into in the night (aka - bear and coyotes), they also found all types of slugs and even some huge earthworms. :) Yay!
We pretty much left out the bait on a big rock and forgot about it- since tracking prints & scat & slugs, climbing apple trees and eating apples was too good to resist.
Because it was so hard to get a good night time photograph of many if the tracks we saw, here are some below I have seen in the last week that are similar...
**Btw---> For easy tracking with kids in your back yard, find or make a moist muddy spot where you can safely leave some food to attract a nocturnal animal. When the animal comes for the food it will leave it's prints in the mud and the kids can try to figure out which animals live in their hood.**
Anyone wanna try to identify these prints above and below? They are classic cut outs!
This last pair is probably some animals you know real well... they might even live in your house with you!? ;)


Blair said...

very sweet, leslie .. looks like they had a blast with you.

Kittie Howard said...

What fun! The kid in me wanted to jump right in!

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Hey Blair!
I had a blast with them. :)

Kittie - I have never been able to shake that kid part of myself, that likes to explore. Hopefully I never do... i am already sad enough about some of the other kid parts of me i think disappeared with time.