Nature on our doorsteps - Tracks in snow

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

Most of our wild animals are nocturnal, coming out only at twilight or in the full darkness of the night when we are asleep.

During the day, these animals stay well-hidden.

A light fall of snow at the Hell Fire Club compressor

A light fall of snow at the Hell Fire Club

While we might not be lucky enough to see wild animals when we walk in our parks or go up into the Dublin Mountains, we can look for signs of these creatures, like the footprints they leave behind.

Prints are often best seen along muddy tracks or around the edges of ponds or riverbanks.

Looking for prints after a light fall of snow can also be very enlightening.

The recent dusting of fine-grained snow at the Hell Fire Club revealed the presence of deer, rabbits, wood mice and foxes, and birds like Rooks and Magpies.

Of course, it is best to get out early, before prints of walkers and their dogs cover up those of the local resident animals.

View of Dublin Bay from a snow covered Montpelier HIll compressor

View of Dublin Bay from a snow-covered Montpelier HIll

Prints of birds, wood mice, rabbits and deer are easy to identify. Fox prints, however, look very similar to those of dogs, so it takes practice to tell the difference between these two related animals.

As foxes now also live amongst us in built-up areas, fortunately we do not have to go too far to work on improving our tracking skills.

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