Saturday, December 6, 2014

First Mud Puddle

First mud puddle - must have been some party going on after that rain   
Rain. Here are photos of tracks that appeared in one little mud puddle on the Dipper Ranch after rainstorms finally arrived in mid-November. Can you tell what the tracks are from? The mud puddle was on a road that goes past the water tank.

Everyone's saying "Rain" with such joy. We've been getting rainstorms every few days. People have been going out for walks in it. Waking up at night to watch the stormy skies. Turning off the radio and TV to listen to the sound of it on the roof and the leaves.

Track #1 - two hooves, 5.5 cm long x 4 cm wide   
As I move around the city, I'm surprised at how happy the urban residents are about the rain. None of the former complaining that it messes up traffic and weekend plans. In three years of drought, we've missed the rain so much, the sight and sound of it seem miraculous.

Track #2 - four toes, 3 cm long x 3.4 cm wide   
Track #3 - four toes, 3 cm long x 3.5 cm wide    
Track #4 - four toes, 6.5 cm long x 4.6 cm wide   
Track #5 - five toes, 5 cm long x 3 cm wide   
Track #6 - five toes, 5.5 cm long x 3 cm wide   
Track #7 - two hooves with dewclaws      
Track #8 - closeup on two hooves with dewclaws   
Want some help on this track ID challenge? Part of tracking is looking around for other clues. Below you'll find photos from a wildlife camera that I put at the water tank this summer just a short distance down the road from where I found these tracks. The summer was so desperately dry, the usual ponds and creeks on the ranch had mostly disappeared, so I wedged a broken birdbath under the edge of the tank to catch the water that dribbles down. Most animal visitors to this ground-level source of fresh water were birds, but mammals came too. If they are creatures of habit then surely they are the same ones that left the tracks down the road once the rains started.

Striped skunk  
Striped skunk - check out the rear heel   
Buck with budding antlers   
A young coyote   
Gray fox probably on its way to raid the persimmon tree   
Eastern gray squirrel   
Not all mammals photographed at the water tank in the summer necessarily left tracks in November. The wildlife camera stayed at the same location the whole time, so you can compare the relative size of the feet of the different animals between those photos.  However, the photos of the tracks were not all taken at the same distance, so check the ruler and the provided dimensions for comparison. You can click on any photo to see it enlarged.

Pile of people track-makers outside the kitchen door at the walnut harvest party  
At the walnut harvest party, most everyone went for a walk to see the newts newly arriving at the newly wet Newt Pond.  No-one complained a whit about the mud. The juvenile western yellow-bellied racer was overwhelming voted as the label of the 2014 Dipper Ranch Walnuts and we talked about rain. Scott was randomly selected as the commenting-voter who will receive a bag of walnuts. It might be a small bag this year - the walnut crop was puny under the droughty conditions. People and animals and plants are feeling hopeful about next year.

Waiting for the girl newts to arrive at the Newt Pond   


  1. There are very few things in this world that bring a region's residents together in a positive, cheerful way. Euphoria at some long-anticipated change in the weather is one such example. Crivens, three years is a whole bunch of time! Enjoy :o)

  2. Know you've had troubles with it, but that Birdcam ain't half-bad. No major flash blowout and the focus at the shorter distance is pretty good. Like the color too. With that body-length tail, your mouse appears to be P. maniculatus.

    1. The Birdcam certainly has its niche. I've gotten handy about mounting it in various configurations on that tripod. The only thing that frustrates me is that it will only take one night-time flash photo and then goes into some type of sleep mode for minutes to hours. Thanks for the mouse ID.


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