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Why I love tracking animals in the snow

Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 15:33 UK time, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

For me, one of the most exciting things about the snow is the sudden ability to see exactly what wildlife is up to.

The tracks different animals leave behind can be a revelation. Usually secretive creatures show you exactly what they have been up too, their favourite haunts, where they come and go into the garden and even how they have been interacting with other wildlife.

After the first snowfall you can see what's been going on all around your patch. I was horrified to see just how many times the fox had trotted around my chicken run! I saw that roe deer had come right up to the back door - I had absolutely no idea they wandered so far into the garden and around the house.

Just occasionally you can see where the track of a bird or mouse suddenly ends - with the unmistakable splay of the wings of an attacking bird of prey imprinted in the snow. It's the most wonderful detective work - when you are following in the footsteps of the fox, watching how he sniffs around here there and everywhere, you can practically see him trotting along in front of you.

If you fancy doing a bit of tracking in the show, I can heartily recommend this simple downloadable guide (PDF) to some of the most common animal tracks, for you or the children.

And if you think you're a bit of an expert see if you know what made these tracks.

Happy tracking!


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