Guess That Track
Would you know a raccoon print if you came across one? How about a mountain lion print? Take our quiz, and test your skills.
In his spare time Audubon’s board chair, Holt Thrasher, parlays his passion for nature into a very fun hobby: animal tracking. From foxes in his backyard in Greenwich, Connecticut, to jaguars in Belize, he tries to figure out them all, often just by studying a slight impression in the sand, mud, or even leaves.
“I was recently with John Fitzpatrick, the head of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, for the first time. He took me on this great walk through Sapsucker Woods, and he was birding by ear across a large repertoire of local specimens (very impressive...), Thrasher says. “I told him, I tend to start at the ground and look up more than the from the trees and then down. Like right over there, quickly pointing to a perfect imprint of a right front paw of a young possum. It just happened to be there. He was like, Well, well! I can't imagine that happens a lot.”
Here’s a collection of some of Thrasher’s favorite finds, all from his backyard except where noted.
Take the quiz: Click on the first image below, move your cursor over the image, then click on "next" for the answer. From there, click on “next” again for the following image, etc.
BONUS SHOT (click on the image below)
|Tom Baptist/Audubon Connecticut
One particularly memorable moment in Thrasher’s tracking career occurred in Belize. “We were in [Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve] walking along in a part of the jungle with the native Mayan Indian guides, expecting to see a wide variety of animals and birdlife,” Thrasher says. It was at the transition point between night and day—a “dusk-dawn moment” he calls it. “My favorite thing to do is get into an environment I’ve never been in before an hour before the transition point, and go sit somewhere and get camouflaged. I’ve got a good view, but nobody can see me and I don’t have any scent on me. I’m clean and sitting there watching.
“I got to do that on that day. I sat there by a stream with a good vantage point, hoping I would see something and knowing the odds of ever seeing a jaguar there are so remote.
“It had rained off and on for four or five hours. I had just gone through this remarkable experience of watching five mammals I’d never seen before come by in pretty close proximity to drink some water and leave. I saw a tapir walk by and agouti, a small guinea pig-like rodent. Finally my wife was getting concerned because it was a mile and half to get back to camp. We looked down and there was a jaguar track and it was less than 30 minutes old.
I took pictures. That’s about as close as I’ve been to one in the wild, knowing that it had been there in the last few minutes. You can tell it was very fresh because of the rain. That was fun. I try to get some unusual tracks.”
For a Q&A with Thrasher by editor-in-chief David Seideman, read “He Means Business.”
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