Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Mystery Of The Tracks

One time this winter when I was out on a normal everyday hike, I looked down at the lake like I usually do when I'm at that park. It's where I have my first chance to se it, so I always check down there to see what condition the lake's in. This time I saw something very interesting.

There were some kind of tracks that led mostly straight across the lake. At first I was only mildly curious, but as I got to thinking, I began to wonder what made the tracks. They weren't from a human or a dog. Those wouldn't necessarily go in such a straight line. But how could I find out from way up here?

The first thing I had to do was to get some pictures f the tracks. As you can see in the pictures, I didn't have the best view from where I was. I had to walk around and look at the tracks from several different angles. And when I got a halfway decent look at the tracks on the ice, they were so degraded that it was almost impossible to know what could have made them.

Obviously the frozen lake has provided a temporary winter bridge for any animal that wants to use it. I've seen squirrels on the ice, but they like to wander around a bit too. They're not really that interested in getting across, because they have their homes in the trees, so they don't travel much. So what other animal was out there?

I decided to find out where the tracks started on this side of the lake. I was in luck, because they led right up to the edge. I could see them better here, but I was still standing on a big hill, and they were still very degraded because of the recent warm weather.

There was still a chance I could find out. They had to go somewhere on land, so I continued to follow the pattern at the side of the lake. I was happy to find out that the relatively straight line they followed also continued right up the side of the hill.

I was able follow them with my eyes right up to the area where I was standing. For that whole reason, it was good that they followed such a straight path. It was still hard to tell from these old tracks, but I finally found one print on the ground in front of me. One good one that I needed.

It was a deer track! This is the animal that left the tracks. Deer like to travel. You can see the same deer from several different places that are miles apart. I'm sure I've seen the same deer in this park that I've also seen in my own backyard. It's at least a few miles drive. It's not unusual to see deer running across a busy street around here, because they go everywhere. So they leave plenty of tracks in the winter.

One fun thing about winter is that even if we don't get to see the animals as much as we would otherwise, we get to find out where they go. There is really no other good time to be able to do this. Sure, it can be done. I've seen traces of animals even in summer, but it's much easier in the snow.

So that's it. Deer made the tracks. I found out all by myself. I'm either a super detective, or it's all just easy right now. So that's it for today from Super Detective Ratty.


  1. The second picture was fantastic with that line of track..You're quite good with identifying the track.

  2. Congrats on your new rank Super Detective Ratty! Interesting Deer path you've found there :) Crossing the frozen lake can be dangerous and life threatening situation.

  3. Nobody can hide themselves in the winter, either up in the bare tree, or down on the snow.

    And you have become an expert, a super detective right now.

  4. Great! Hey, I would have gone looking too. Those are VERY regular, even for deer. Weird, even.

  5. It's like following a secret snow beast or buried treasure. Maybe the deer did it for a reason to keep you guessing.

  6. Way to go super detective. I would never be able to figure it all out.

  7. I guessed it from your far away picture...we see a lot of them across rivers and lakes up here too~

  8. When I saw the wide shot, I too thought it was a deer! How fun to do all this detective work. Just think, if you were a cat, you could scent them all too.

  9. Great find Ratty, that's a lot of tracks. The third photo looks like two different sets side by side, but that could be the photo playing tricks with my eyes. Great detective work on the deer tracks.