The truth is out there

I kid you not: there’s been a Bigfoot sighting in a forested area between Adkins Arboretum and Tuckahoe State Park. Facebook photos show footprints and blurry black blobs among the branches. My son is a believer. Upon hearing the news, his eyes widened to the size of saucers. Bigfoot fear has long been a recurring bedtime issue in my home, so this is breaking news indeed.

To my naturalist eyes, the blobs look an awful lot like the black knot

bigfoot

Bigfoot? Or black knot?

fungus that attacks wild cherry trees. Scary, yes, but not in the league of Bigfoot. Another question arising in my scientific mind: just why are photos of Sasquatch always blurry? We live in a digital age, for goodness’ sake.

Bigfoot aside, there’s plenty of tracking to do at Adkins Arboretum. Take an early walk to look for dullings, areas where the morning dew has been wiped away by wildlife passing through. Beds and lays, permanent and occasional animal sleeping spots, can be seen in the meadow. Rubbings are polished areas of the landscape, such as where deer rub their antlers against tree trunks. Muddy or snowy days provide great opportunities to spy animal tracks, while observing scat provides invaluable insight into an animal’s diet.

Tracking is a fun way for kids and adults alike to discover the many animals that make their home in a given area. Often, these animals are nocturnal or simply too shy to show themselves to humans. What animals call the Arboretum home? Everything from small voles, insects, salamanders, and hummingbirds to larger foxes, eagles, and deer. As for creatures larger than deer? Trackers, don your hiking boots and binoculars: the truth is out there.

by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator

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