Friday, 6 February 2009

Tracks and Signs...

While the heavy snows continue, I thought I'd mention something that's been playing in the back of my mind for a while now; tracking birds and animals.

I've been fortunate enough to witness this first hand on safari in Africa, and at that level, it has to be seen to be believed. From a mishmash of muddy bore holes across a rutted game drive and into semi arid desertland, one Zulu tracker I was with insisted we follow him as he had found the tracks of white rhino.

The ground looked more like the results of a weekend off-roading session to me, but we demurred and followed his expertise. To cut a long story short, we ended up tracking the rhino - after a while, he insisted there were actually three - for over an hour, in the end believing we were being led on a wild rhino chase.

But we found them alright on the plains, three of them as predicted. With sundowners over a crackling fire that night, our tracker murmured that he could have told us their age and sex too -but knew we wouldn't have believed him.

Youngsters in the African bush begin their learning in this incredible art by tracking insects and continue to move up into the bigger - and more toothsome - varieties of game. The very best trackers are highly sought after to lead safaris for paying guests.

But tracking of wild birds and animals is very possible here in the UK too, and it's something I've had more than a passing interest in for some time. I intend to study it some more following the sighting of some excellent tracks in the snow and will be returning to the subject on my blog, but thought I'd let you in on some excellent correlating blogs I've found during my research.

Check out this fine effort: Pablo is passionate about his wildlife and it shows. Well worth a half hour with a cup of tea.

This too, really whets the appetite to learn more:
The standard of these blogs amazes me, to be honest.

I will be studying these sites and more and will report back. In the meantime, I have got hold of an amazing book that deals solely with the tracking of birds in Britain and Europe, part of the series of Helm identification guides. To say it is comprehensive is like saying Pele can play a bit. Check it out.

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