Clearly not a baby blackberry

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Sunday, May 15, 2022

It was a hot day at Lockier’s Pit in Orangeville. The sky was blue with wispy cirrus clouds high overhead. The grey treefrogs sang a summery serenade. The clay-coloured sparrows sounded like insects buzzing and the bank swallows darted swiftly like sky whales in a sea of warm air. Lockier’s Pit is an abandoned gravel pit filled with sandy trails, dirt jumps and off-road vehicle tracks. The tracking apprenticeship group was seeking tracks from other wild beings…

Coyote tracks, solidified in dry mud presented an opportunity to learn more about gaits and in particular a side trot. This is a fast gait, used when the Coyote is in “travel mode”. It is often used in between areas of cover. The rear end of the coyote is angled outwards. This helps prevent the rear legs from hitting the front legs as the coyote trots at a higher speed.

Alexis shared some tips for identifying the difference between red fox, coyote and domestic dog tracks. Tamara wondered whether fox tracks are smellier that the other canines because they are furrier and maybe hold the scent of the animal more.

We also looked at crow tracks and talked about how toes 2 and 3 are close together whereas toes 3 and 4 are close together for Red-Winged Blackbirds and Grackles. Alexis wondered whether the Brown-Headed Cowbird also has toes 3 and 4 close together. Photos of cowbird feet seem to say “Yes!”.

A mysterious jaw bone was discovered on the top of the sandy slopes. Diana shared that the jaw smelled like tallow and wondered if the animal had been predated somewhat recently. The teeth were very well worn and a debate ensued about whether it was from a deer or from livestock like a goat or a sheep.

Deer or Sheep or Goat or Archaeomeryx

The biggest mystery was a pile of purple eggs – what could they be? Diana said that they smelled fishy. They were not found near water. Hmm…possibly tobiko (flying fish roe) from someone’s lunch? Clearly not baby blackberries 😊

Clearly not baby blackberries

A few more questions to add to our mysteries from the day:

Did mason bees or miner bees make the holes on the sandy slopes?

Which animals eat snails?

What is the name of this beetle? (see photo)

Mystery Beetle

Who lives in a goldenrod ball gall – a wasp or a gall fly? Visit this site to see incredible works of art by Guelph artist Emily Damstra to find out more:

Looking forward to the next tracking weekend on June 4th and 5th!

  • Diana Clements

    Thanks Tamara. I need to get on identifying those little balls!

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