On Nature’s Trail
Most animals see the world differently from humans. They
see it as a network of safe paths between dangerous spots and feeding
areas. As humans rely on sight to identify the world around them animals
use smells to tell them what is happening, animals literally do smell
When looking for signs of mammals, watch out for feeding
activities, this may be teeth marks or debris left behind. Often mammals
have a favourite feeding place, possibly an old tree stump, under a large
log or in the corner of a field. Mammals tend to be very territorial. This
strong instinct to protect their homeland gives us good opportunities to
find signs of their presence. Urine and faeces are used to mark their
homeland boundary; badgers for example dig a hole into which they
defecate. Foxes have a pungent smell, which even our noses can detect.
Mammal droppings provide clues to the animal, for example a fox scat will
contain fur and bone and have a strong odour. Look out for well-worn paths
through a field or wood and signs of fur, diggings or marks on trees, they
will all give clues to who made them.
Mammal tracks form a recognisable pattern. Make a point
of checking soft ground, along waterbodies or best of all after a flurry
of snow. The size and shape of the print will give you a big clue as to
what sort of mammal print you are looking at. The best way to be sure is
to buy a field guide of animal tracks. Domestic and wild animal prints can
if you're not careful become confused.
Next time you're out walking in the countryside or an
urban greenspace look a little closer at what’s around, you will be
amazed at how many different tracks and signs of animals can be found.
With practice your eyes will be opened to a whole new wonderful world of
Jason Adams, Ashford Countryside Officer
We need your help: we are
after any records of mammals from voles to badgers. This can be a positive
sighting or signs and tracks. All survey records will be sent to the Kent
Mammal Group and the Kent & Medway Biological Record Centre. We are
offering a FREE copy of our train ride to ramble booklet for each
person who sends in mammal records. When sending records remember the who,
what & where… Who’s recording the finding (your name &
address), what the finding is (name of species) and where you found it
(grid reference ideally). Mammal survey findings need to be sent to the
KSCP by the end of April 2005. Train ride to ramble booklets will be sent
out after this date, unless specified the booklet nearest to your home
address will be sent. Happy hunting….