West Bluffs Walk: 1

by Carl Strang

Once or twice a winter I like to get into the south part of Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. Apart from the general attraction of being our most biologically and topographically diverse area, and scenically beautiful, it also is where a bobcat is most likely to show up. I didn’t find any bobcat signs this time, but the warm (40F) conditions made for some interesting tracking.

Footprints were deteriorating rapidly. Here is a comparison of one of my tracks going in against a fresh one as I came out less than 3 hours later.

Most trails were composed of blob tracks.

A typical coyote trail that day.

When I found sharply defined footprints, I knew they had to be fresh.

This coyote trail couldn’t be more than half an hour old.

Another fresh coyote track on deeper snow.

Blob tracking does allow some species identification.

Small round footprints in a diagonal walk, within half a mile of a residential neighborhood, point to domestic cat.

Sheltered from the sun and close to the base of a tree, the next trail had held up better.

The odd, irregular footprints of an opossum.

It wasn’t all tracks, though. Away from the trails I encountered several deer.

This young buck allowed a relatively close approach.

A track of a different sort was this old concrete and rock structure. I don’t remember encountering it before.

It appears to be one of the old Lincoln Park Nursery cribs, but it is away from the main trail, and distant from the others.

I also got some winter plant photos, which I’ll share next time.

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