U3A speaker June 2017

This month speaker at the Callington U3A was the delightful and funny Denise Walker her talk was entitled ‘Who goes there’ a look at animal tracks.
She suggested when we are out walking in this beautiful county, that we keep our noses to the ground, as there is a world of animal tracks and clues to the wild life in your area. You need to look for clues to the small dramas that have been taking place.
There maybe fur caught on barbed wire, tracks and trails in the bank, and foot prints if the path is wet. Denise showed us various tracks we could spot, like hedgehogs, squirrels, deer and foxes. She showed us pictures of various poo! which contains the indigestible parts of foods such as hair, feather, bone splinters, which provide a wealth of information. Smells also play a vital role in the social aspects of mammals.
Clues can be found about their eating habits in their droppings, there are 3 types, vegetarians, carnivores and birds.

As you continue on your walk she explained other things you might see, like broken birds eggs, if the shards are folding inwardly then it has probably been the victim of a fox, badger, squirrel or magpie. If it has hatched naturally the edges fold outwards and its clean with no yoke marks. She also explained about feathers that tell the story of animal predation. For example if it was a bird of prey, there would be a mass of down and feathers. The real evidence lies in the individual feathers, there will be a kink or bend in the feather were it has been gripped, the quill base will be undamaged. If killed by a fox then the feathers would be matted together with saliva, the quills bitten off and spat out, with a trail of dropped feathers.
She also told us that moth wings indicated bats. If you find owl pellets, soak them overnight in warm water, then tease them apart with tweezers to discover what the owl had for dinner. Plus, strangely, you can buy owl pellets from Amazon to dissect. If you have interested children or grandchildren or yourself of course.
Denise made us think more about what we could see if we only looked.
‘The more you look the more you see’.
The Q & A afterwards was both informative and funny.
If you are interested in joining us at the Callington U3A go to www.u3asites.org.uk/Callington or come along on the first Monday of the month 10am Callington Town Hall.