New Year's Day Walk, Roe and Tracks

A Happy New Year Tradition
It's something of a tradition for me to go out to the woods for a walk on New Year's Day and there's usually a good amount of snow about to add to the fun. As well as the traditional reason I'm also in the process of trying to lose a bit of weight this year so any extra activity is certainly going to help in that respect.

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Paths and Rabbits
The woods were fairly busy and the walkers, kids being towed on sledges and skiers have compacted all the paths down into a fairly hard and reasonably slippery track. It made for slow going but I did see some great tracks on the way. Aside from the myriad of do tracks there were a fair variety of rabbit tracks with their distinctive "Y" shaped pattern criss-crossing the paths.

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Weather Makes Tracking Puzzles
Today's weather was hovering around -1 centigrade and fairly dry but most of yesterday and early this morning we'd had a nice fluffy snowfall. The net result of this was their being no real ice crust on the snow and there being some really, really small tracks visible. I have little to no idea what these tracks could be and pose them as a puzzle for my dear readers. There's nothing to scale them against other than the seeds but they are truly tiny and with such weak light, photographing them was easier said than done.

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This is the first of the sets, and the bigger of the two with the prints being around a centimetre long and coming in pairs like so.

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Minute Tracking Trivia
The second set were even smaller and far harder to photograph, as I said, for tracks so fine to show up there must have been some special conditions at play. The tracks were so shallow that there was very little contrast between them and the snow crust and despite trying different angles it was hard to get much definition. This picutre, and the next one in the album of the same prints, probably need some editing to get the contrast to show up more but if you look super closely you can see tracks running across the picutre.

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A slightly better picture is below, but remember these tracks are less than a centimetre long and can only be milimetres deep.

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Deer!
I've seen roe deer Capreolus capreolus tracks in these woods before but never the animals themselves. I was lucky today and saw a small pair (one bigger than the other) running across the clearing in front of me and then along the tree line.

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Although they are not as impressive as the massive Red deer stags that Hen4 was posting over the New Year's holiday I had a similar feeling of being blessed to see them and it's certainly a very positive omen for me for the coming year. I tried following them a bit but the drifts in the fields have blown so that the snow is between a couple of cm and mid thigh with no indication which bits are which as the top is flat and pure white. No doubt anyone watching would have found me, disappearing halfway across the field as I sunk beyond my knees into the snow, very funny.
In the end I gave up the "chase" took some photos of the fresh tracks and headed for home.

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Janus and Looking Both Ways
Tracking reminds me somewhat of Janus, the double faced god who January is named after. By having two faces he can see in front of and behind himself and this looking back and forward is the same thing we do with tracks. They can be followed both ways and sometimes tracking backwards can be more rewarding or easier.
So as welcome 2011 in, I'd like to wish you all a happy New Year with lots of bushcrafting, woods time and love and leave you with a trail to symbolise all that's good that lies ahead of us this year.

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