Wednesday, 23 September 2009

On Track

Interpreting tracks is an enjoyable addition to any shore walk and much can be deduced from sand prints. In the first photo, a lesser black backed gull stood and stared for a while, before being disturbed, shedding some dead weight then taking flight by running as it took off, dropping a feather in the process.

By contrast, the photo below is made by a bird that, when disturbed didn't run as it took off but hopped as it flapped, keeping both feet side by side - a cormorant by the size of the prints.

The next example is a pigeon-toed carrion crow, leaving foot prints showing separate pads as well as claw trails in between as it waddled up the beach looking for anything interesting.

And finally, a feeding frenzy of small waders - both dunlin and sanderling - were feeding here on sandhopppers and flies amongst the seaweed.

Developing these Mears-ian tracking skills is of course a slow process requiring long hours of meticulous field observation ......
you can do it my way - watch the birds take off then walk up and check out the tracks.


  1. Fascinating Allan. To me they would just be so many footprints in the sand so it was interesting to see what each can tell.

  2. Thanks John. Its a lot easier of course when you watch the bird make the track first!