A Walk Where the Tracks Lead by Al Moored, Volunteer

Fellow Walkers,

The snow was still falling when I arrived at Adkins Arboretum, the landscape was as freshly covered as could be and the opportunity to see what was moving had arrived.

I started into the South Meadow and the first tracks I saw were red fox, tracks that were partly snowed over, but I followed them anyway…just to see what he had been looking for. The first fresh tracks were from some field mice, but the fox had passed them by. The fox tracks soon followed along some partially snowed over rabbit tracks, both of which then led into the “briar patch” formed by the thorny little black berry stems. The fox had been deterred by the pickers, his tracks led around the patch to see where the rabbit had come out; it had not come out so he went on. I doubled back to the old rabbit tracks and high-stepped into the briar patch, moving slowly to follow those partially covered tracks and hoping to see the bunny sitting safely under the briars. After several steps the rabbit shot out ahead of me…the first of the really fresh tracks of the morning!

I went on to Quail Run where I found fresh fox tracks…he must have been just out of sight and his tracks were following along some fresh rabbit tracks…the rabbit had been in a hurry. Just off of Quail Run I came upon fresh deer tracks, two sets, one large, and one small. I back tracked to find where they had bedded down. They went across Wild Thicket Walk and South Meadow Loop into the lowlands toward Tuckahoe Creek.

The snow had stopped falling and against the bright background of the snow and the brightening clouds, a blue jay or two chastised me loudly for disturbing the peace as I started down the Upland Walk. Along it were deer and squirrel tracks. The woodpeckers could be heard tap tap tapping. A close look revealed three different species, but that is a different walk!

Along Tuckahoe Creekside Walk there were lots of signs of squirrel activity. The Tuckahoe Creek water was clear and swift, but no tracks of water animals. I went back onto the Tuckahoe Valley Trail North. Squirrel tracks all along. I doubled back and went up the North Meadow Cut onto the North Meadow Loop. I wanted to check out the fox den, so cut across the North Meadow (Nancy’s Meadow). In a stand of sumac, I scared up two white-tail deer which ran a ways then stopped to check me out, what a grand sight, those great white flags twitching. We stood looking at each other for several minutes, then they high-tailed it on into the forest. I walked past the fox den—it had been visited by a fox, but did not show any signs of being “used” as a den just yet. There were signs of rabbits at various places in the North Meadow (Nancy’s Meadow), the fox was right to be checking there.

On the way back I stopped by the wetland, above the bridge on the Blockston Branch, still hoping to see some signs of water animals. What I did find was a woodcock down by the water and also some “knees” sticking up from the marsh under a cypress tree.

The snow was beginning to melt, the walk was over and it had been another beautiful day to walk in the woods.


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