Tracks in snow

Text and photos Tiit Hunt,
Translation Liis
After the dense snowfall and before the great thaw I decided to take a tour in the forest to check some familiar badger castles. I saw many animals and tracks.
At the first badger castle everything was peaceful and quiet, there were no animal tracks and most of the den openings were hidden in snow. Only a couple of openings with frosty edges were half cleared of snow. These breathing openings disclose that the den is not empty – someone breathes down there.
The second badger den was some hundred meters away from the first one. What a wonder – outside one opening traces of the badger’s activities were visible. They had to be very fresh because it had snowed densely the whole previous day. The badger had trampled down the snow in front of the opening and one could imagine how it sat there scratching parasites from its coat, and how it scratched its belly lying on its back. It had made a furrow in the snow to a hazelnut shrub growing a couple of meters away in order to press a couple of holes in the snow with its snout, and then gone back to the den. The trail camera at the den showed that after January 25th the badger had not left the den. 

Badger on January 25th
In order to get to the third badger den it was necessary to drive several kilometres on small unploughed forest roads. On the verge of one such small road a boar slept in an ant hill under a spruce; at the noise from the car it jumped up and rushed away.

Boar’s nest in  ant hill

Track of beaver tail
There were still 2-3 kilometres to drive to the badger dens when we noticed that a stretch of road was densely filled with tracks and the trunks of pines growing at the roadside were scratched. Lynx! Hunting specialist Jaan Mitt thought on studying the tracks that a female with two cubs might have been here. Ravens revealed why the lynxes had been busy for so long and had left so many tracks. I went in the direction where I had seen the ravens a moment ago and it was not necessary to wade for long in the snow before the dinner table of the large cats already showed. Familiar fact, roe deer is a favourite meal of lynxes .

Lynx food display
The last badger den was in a dense and shrubby forest. It felt like a rather hopeless enterprise to find anything at all in such a place and maybe it would have been so too if we had not noticed the lynx tracks. We followed the tracks and found the lie of the lynx. 

A lynx has lain here
This was maybe also a place for being in ambush and for listening because the lie was immediately next to the dens or even on top of them. The lynx had pushed its head into several openings and even unsuccessfully tried to press into one of them. The tracks in the snow showed that this time the enemy of the badgers  did not reach the prey. 

Lynx tracks in front of the badger den




My Nature Calendar

Help to do better - send Your observations about nature.