Footshapes, gaits, forage sign, nests & beds

Tracking-gait canvases travel with Discovery to Gustavus.

For more than a quarter century, tracking has been Discovery’s core focus during winter Nature Studies activities in elementary schools throughout the District. It’s one of our most ‘hands-on’ activities. Pre-field indoor sessions include full-body practice, replicating the movement of deer, bear, wolf, otter and snowshoe hare. When we’ve hopped like a hare or loped like an otter, those confusing alignments of front and hind feet stay with us—a more durable memory than we get from just intellectually perusing the gait patterns in tracking guides.

And by the way, as Discovery naturalists remind students on all field trips regardless of theme, everything is a track. The very mud slick in the photo below from Kaxdigoowu Héen is itself a track, of alluvial processes and their modification by s’igeidí, beaver. My 2001 winter Discoveries feature, Bite marks and bathtub rings: a clue-reading toolkit for Southeast naturalists, develops this idea.

From left to right: red squirrel, mink, snipe. Pencil is 5.5 inches. Good for size comparison. Beaver activity along Kaxdigoowu Héen, going back clear water (Montana Creek) results in ideal fine-mud ‘blackboards,’ sometimes even showing the individual toe prints of mice.


In this section

Bog visit on Sayeik (Douglas Island)

Tracking from skis on fresh snow in deer-&-hare country, Sayéik, spirit helper (Douglas Island). douglasbogs from Discovery Southeast JuneauNature on…

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 96 seconds

1996 winter newsletter: Winter tracking in Juneau

Thoughts on animal tracking with teachers and students, an activity that by 1996 had become the core of our winter…

1996 winter | Richard Carstensen | 2 pages

2001 winter newsletter: Bite marks and bathtub rings

A clue-reading toolkit for Southeast naturalists My feature article for Discoveries developed what had become a mantra among our naturalists:…

Common tracks guide

Tracking has been a core activity in Discovery programs for about 30 years.  This pocket guide provides tracking tips for…

2013 | Richard Carstensen | 60 pages, 2.3 MB, 5.5 x 4.25