Announcements from the November 2020 Chapter Meeting

Highlights from the October Chapter Meeting
The Announcements

View the full set of November announcements by clicking here. With so much going on, only announcement highlights were presented at the chapter meeting. More opportunities and contacts, websites, and other details are available here.

COVID-19 – A reminder: NTMN requires face masks at in-person chapter activities. Our TPWD Chapter Advisor Sam Kieschnick explains it this way: When we wear the badge, we wear the mask.

Highlights of the meeting

Thanks to our many guests for participating. We hope everyone felt welcome at NTMN.

Congratulations to the newly elected board members: Susannah Moore, Vice President; Dan Matkin, Co-Treasurer; Connie Koval, Secretary; Laura Kimberly, Membership Director; Paula Hagan, State Representative; Tiffany Lipsett, Youth Development Director; and Sue Matkin, New Class Director. I’m so grateful for your willingness to serve.

Animal Tracking in Texas

Many thanks to Heidi Bailey for her very practical Animal Tracking presentation. Heidi is a TPWD Regulatory Wildlife Biologist in the Post Oak Wildlife District and has served with the department for over 20 years.

She first introduced us to track anatomy and classification, showing how individual impressions and gaits work together toward identification. Bird tracks were broken out by groups, with examples of each category. Track identification was just one facet of her presentation as she also showed how the signs animals leave tell about their behavior: marking territory, diet, movement type.

Heidi took us through a fascinating series of animal tracks and other signs, challenging us to identify the mammals, birds, and reptiles involved. Who knew skunk and bear tracks have so many similarities? Distinguishing deer (more pointed in front, overall heart shape, dew claws closer together) from hog tracks is finally soaking in for me. Information we can put right to use on upcoming hikes.

Key takeaways: Heidi wrapped up with a series of Tracking Tips and Tricks

  • Great places to look for tracks:
    • Under bridges – her favorite
    • Along shorelines and around water
    • In sandy areas – go to Monahans Sand Hills State Park
  • Take photos and keep a tracking journal.
  • Take photos from different angles, with and without flash, and with light coming from different directions. Put the track between you and the sun. Shadows can greatly affect what you can see in the tracks.
  • Use a sketchpad. Draw pictures. Take notes.
  • Carry a sewing/measuring tape, calipers or ruler.
  • Get a good field guide and/or app such as iTrack Wildlife.
  • If you are confused about a track, follow the trail as far forward and as far backwards as you can. Often you will find a clearer track or a clue as to what your mystery animal is.
  • Similarly, look at the string of tracks to determine how the animal is moving (walk, trot, lope, run, hop, etc.). This can help you with identification.
  • Don’t fixate on one characteristic of the track. Look at the track as a whole and ask “Does it check ALL the boxes?”
  • Go tracking with friends and your kids!
  • If you find a track that just stumps you, email a photo to: Heidi.Kryger@tpwd.texas.gov

To print a copy of these Tips and Tricks go here.

For more information: Heidi refers us to Jonah Evans, State Mammalogist for TPWD and iTrack Wildlife app developer, and to Dr. Mark Elbroch, animal tracking and mountain lion scientist. Both are widely published authors; online searches will take you to magazine articles and books.

Further resources:
Books

  • Elbroch, M. (2003) Mammal Tracks and Signs: A Guide to North American Species. Mechanicsburg, PA, Stackpole Books, 780pp.
  • Elbroch, M. with Marks, E. (2001) Bird Tracks and Signs: A Guide to North American Species. Mechanicsburg, PA, Stackpole Books.
  • Eiseman, C. and Charney N. (2010) Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates. Mechanicsburg, PA, Stackpole Books, 582pp.
  • Tkaczyk, F. (2015) Tracks and Sign of Reptiles and Amphibians. Mechanicsburg, PA. Stackpole Books, 468pp.
  • Lowery, James C. (2006) The Tracker’s Field Guide. Guilford, Connecticut, Falcon, 416 pp.
  • Murie, O. and Elbroch, M. (2005) A Field Guide to Animal Tracks, 3rd ed. Boston, MA, Houghton Mifflin Co.
  • Halfpenny, J.C. (1986) Field Guide to Mammal Tracking in North America. Johnson Books.
  • Rezendes, P. (1999) Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign. 2nd ed. New York, Harper Collins Publishers.
  • McDougall, L. (1997) The Complete Tracker. New York, Lyons and Burford, 384pp.
  • McDougall, L. (2004) The Encyclopedia of Scats and Tracks. Guilford, CT, The Lyons Press, 429 pp.
  • Gray, E. and Taylor,D. (2003) Track Pack: Animal tracks in Full Life Size. Mechanicsburg, PA, Stackpole Books, 34pp.
  • Sheldon, I. and Hartson, T. (2000) Animal Tracks of Texas. Edmonton, Alberta, Lone Pine Publishing.

Web Sites

  • https://www.naturetracking.com
  • https://www.backyardnature.net/tracks.htm
  • Princeton University Outdoor Action Guide to Animal Tracking at https://www.princeton.edu/~oa/nature/tracking.pdf
  • Beartracker’s Animal Tracks Den at https://www.bear-tracker.com
  • https://www.cybertracker.org/tracking/the-art-of-tracking
  • www.trackercertification.com

Apps

  • iTrack Wildlife
  • iNaturalist

To print a copy of these resources, please go here.

Thank you for your participation!

Take care,
Scott Hudson
President
North Texas Master Naturalist

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