Living in the country as we do, we share our land with many wild creatures. Though rarely seen as most are nocturnal, we occasionally see sign of them in a muddy footprint by the river or a soft spot of earth on the path. Once the snow falls, the whole world of animals outside our door comes to light through their tracks and it is breathtaking to see how vibrantly alive with wildlife are these fields and woods.
Seeing numerous tracks, large to very small, is like a tour of discovery every time I walk out. Identifying the owners is an intellectual guessing game.
In the past week, I’ve seen coyote, fox, bobcat, bear, deer, opossum, raccoon, otter, mink, rabbit, porcupine, squirrel, numerous birds and countless small species of rodents. Most on our small parcel of seven acres, a few on our neighbor’s land, but none more than a half mile away.
“These are my neighbors,” I think to myself. They live here, connected to their home just as I am. They live out their lives and we so rarely see them. I suspect many of my fellow humans barely give them a thought, but they are here by the hundreds and they have learned to co-exist in a human-dominated world.
I can’t help but feel admiration for their tenacity for survival. It feels thrilling to know that they are thriving and multiplying, a reassuring indication that this environment is clean and healthy. I am so grateful to share their world.
“Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than [this].” ~ New Testament, Mark 12:31
“Mitakuye Oyasin” (All are Related) ~ Lakota phrase
I always enjoy seeing tracks (other than mine) in the snow.
You have snow!
Lovely post, Eliza. 🙂
Thanks, Sharon. Yes, every since Thanksgiving we’ve had snow. Very early this year.
These are SO cool!
Thank you! It’s been amazing how many tracks I’ve seen this week. I think perhaps with the early snow fall we are seeing pre-hibernation activity that we wouldn’t normally see.
Oh my, you have otter! And you have mink! Awesome! Love your set. I haven’t seen bobcat tracks or mountain lion tracks at The Holler for over a year now. We just had rain, I need to go check.
Thanks, Cindy. We have so many animals here. I’ve never made a formal list, but it must be a long one. Supposedly, cougar have been sighted in town, but I have yet to experience one myself and that is okay by me!
Oh, what wonderful sights this must be! It would so warm my heart to see so many signs of friends all around,
It is another gift for living in a cold climate! 🙂
Thank you (yet again) for sharing your neighbours with your readers! It makes me MISS the visitors that used regularly to cut through our paddocks and even the house yard. I had the odd dingo, wallabies as well as possums and koala. The birdlife was prolific……..galahs, cockatoos, ducks , Jabiru and wedge tailed eagle.
What an amazing diversity of wild life you have visiting.! Lucky! Lucky you.
Thanks, Maureen. What an amazing array you had. What happened to them? Development or did you move?
This is a fantastic post and such important images and thoughts to share. I often feel cold and distanced from the natural world during this time of year, but you have made me feel connected tonight 🙂
What a kind comment Kate, I’m glad to serve as connector. Do you live in the midwest? It gets cold here, but I have to go out every day or I go crazy. Lots of down and good boots keep me comfortable, but our temps. rarely go below zero during the day.
To leave and follow tracks on the snow is so much fun! 🙂 I already want to visit a snowy forest!
It is fun to be sure, kind of like solving a puzzle. Thanks for stopping by, Lily.
There is something to be said about country living and the connections we make with the natural world. No snow here yet, but when it finally arrives, I am now inspired to investigate “tracks.”
It helps pass the cold winter days. We strive to find things to love to distract us from the inconvenience of the frigid temps!
Great quotes Eliza! Very informative post! I’ve learned how to distinguish these now. Thanks!
Thanks, Maria. Maybe someday you will see them first hand.
Eliza, fabulous post! Your woods/surroundings are so busy!! Lucky you. I saw tracks a little while back that made me wonder ‘do bears tiptoe?’ but a naturalist friend suggested that it was the marks of a fox pouncing – which they do to make mice and chipmunk appear from their snow cover. OH and me too I have to go outside every day regardless how cold or I go stir crazy. Best, Catherine.
Thanks, Catherine! so glad you liked it. You understand me completely! I would have loved to see the fox pounce marks. I did see one of the bobcat’s pounce and kills, but it was a bit too gruesome to post. 😉
Oh I love this post Eliza, it’s always so wonderful to see wildlife tracks in the snow! I miss living in the country…
Thanks, Julie. I don’t think I could live anywhere else. The mere thought of leaving this place causes shudders! 😉
Wonderful! I’ve had this exact experience on the rare snowy morning in Virginia. First there is that feeling of shock, really, at just how much is going on in the dead of night all around the house. And then I feel sort of….what’s the word…..humbled, maybe, that I am just one of the many creatures at home in our little corner of the world. How on earth did you learn to read these paw prints? I’m very impressed.
Thanks, Barbara. I have a really good guide book! 🙂 After seeing lots of critters here over the past 24 yrs. it is pretty easy to guess their tracks. I consider myself an amateur with a little experience.
What a wonderful and beautiful post. Thank you so very much.
Thank you! 🙂
I love getting to “go” on these little sightseeing trips with you. It is a gift to see the world through the eyes of another.
Thanks, Kim. It is a pleasure to have you along. I love sharing Nature’s gifts with others very much!
Beautiful post, Eliza! I love seeing all the different animals tracks. And an otter slide!! How wonderful is that? 🙂 I find a lot of tracks along our sand driveway, and always marvel at how many creatures are out there that I never see other than through their tracks, trails, and scat.
Thank you, Robin. It is amazing to see evidence of the locals we never see. I’m so glad they are there, it would seem so barren and empty without them.
How wonderful to have all these ‘secret’ neighbors Eliza. Loved all the track photos. Great post:)
Thanks so much!
Amazing how you know what those tracks are, Eliza! I know a few, but some no. I really enjoyed your post. Thank you. Love, Amy
Thanks, Amy. We live in a rural area so I’ve become acquainted with lots of wildlife over the years. I love these fascinating neighbors and am always interested in learning about them. Hugs!
I really thank YOU for sharing what you know, Eliza. Love, Amy
This is so awesome, Eliza! Did you take those pictures? I have always loved finding tracks in the snow. In fact, I LOVE the snow! We have none this year so far. A far cry from last year’s Polar Vortex, which I loved. I am hoping for a few inches by Christmas. It would be an added gift if I found some tracks in that snow. Loved this!!
Thanks so much. Yes, those are my photos. I was amazed at the abundant tracks I’ve been seeing lately, so thought I’d share them with everyone. I tried to represent a portion of them. Missed taking ones of the porcupine and bear track – maybe another time. My favorite was the otter slide – they love to play. Hope you get your white Christmas!
Eliza: as always your photographs are so beautiful and I so utterly agree with you about how important (and humbling) it is to be reminded (by a simple thing like footprints in the snow — or in my case footprints in the sand!) that other creatures coexist with us on this planet. I often think about this when I am sitting on my porch watching the birds fluttering around or the ants crawling along the ground between shreds of discarded bark and leaves. They go about their lives, as do we. It makes me feel grounded and part of something bigger than myself. And that’s all to the good 🙂
Amen, sister! 🙂 It is all about connection.
Such a beautiful post! I have been away from my computer and our local internet was down for two days-crazy-huh-lol. We did survive…I just love this post for it is one of my favorite things to do- is go outside and hike in the woods when the snow first falls-all those neat tracks-great photos+ blog post!
Thanks, Robbie. We share our world with so many little people! It’s nice to see evidence of them. 🙂
I still believe in little people living in the woods-let me know if you see their tracks-lol:-)
Thank you for your visit! Bet the Spy is a good tracker!
Reblogged this on LIVING THE DREAM.
Thank you for reblogging!
Reblogged this on Eliza Waters and commented:
A few days ago, I was thrilled to see an otter ‘slide’ in the snow that wound around our waterfall, over a steep lip (whee!) and all the way down the stream (hop-hop-slide). Otters are such fun-loving creatures!
While I didn’t get a photo of the slide that day, I published this post six years ago– and as it’s still revelent, I thought I’d share it again.
Beautiful post, Eliza! Thanks for resharing. I love how you think of all the various creatures in the woods as your neighbors. And so they are, and we should indeed cherish them.
Thanks, Laurie! I figure there are more of them and their ancestors were here before we were, so the land belongs more to them than to us. Wish more humans realized this and treated Nature more respectfully. ❤
You have no idea how much reading this post means to me, Eliza. You have written the words so eloquently that I too feel in my heart, the last two paragraphs in particular. ❤
Thank you, Joanne. I wish more humans thought of our role in the world more respectfully. We need to see the big picture, we need every player, small to large, for the world to work.
Next time I see an otter slide I will know what I’m looking at — I had no idea! Thank you for sharing this informative and thoughtful post. May we all be good neighbors!
Yes, indeed– thanks, Barbara!
You have a lot of animals traipsing around your property! I didn’t really see any tracks in the snow yesterday, which is odd. I usually at least see rabbit and squirrel tracks. I did see two deer near my driveway this morning. I always enjoy them.
We do share the land with lots of critters, which are always fun to see!
Great assortment of animal tracks Eliza! You have a lot of wildlife in your yard! Enjoyed seeing your images!
Thank you, Reed!
It must be a delight to see so many tracks and know which neighbours have been around.
Thank you, Andrea. Yes, it is a delight, esp. that otter slide which speaks of their happy, playful nature.
Oh, this is wonderful — I missed it the first time and am glad to read it now. Otter? Mink? Bobcat? Wow, you’ve got some interesting neighbors, Eliza!
Thank you, Debbie. They really are the best of neighbors!
This is fantastic! I love these little footprints. What a fun adventure 🙂
Thank you, Shayleene! I think the deer mice with the long tails dragging behind them are the most charming. 🙂
yes I’d agree! they’re so sweet
Oh goodness I feel the same way about “my neighbors”!
Thank you, Michele. For the most part, they are good neighbors. 🙂