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Marin Tracking Club 2

I’m in California for the holidays and went to the Marin Tracking club this morning. I used to go regularly when I lived here.  Then it was small and just beginning.  Now the word is out and there were four times the amount of people.  The tracking club meets on the last Sunday of every month, except this month’s last Sunday is Christmas.  We always meet in Point Reyes at Abbott’s Lagoon.  Since no dogs are allowed, the beach, which begins about a mile from the parking area, is pristine with wildlife tracks.

Abbott's Lagoon


I’m staying at a house on at Muir Beach which is about an hour south of Point Reyes via the coast highway.  The drive is exquisite.  I left at around 7:30 and saw a coyote on the way there.  Driving along Highway 1, near Dogtown, you’ll pass a line of Eucalyptus trees. The 1903 Earthquake was centered right along here.  You can see the line of trees on one side, then the line of trees jumps several feet away; this is where the fault is.

Forest around Point Reyes driving Highway 1

Once you turn off towards the beaches, the landscape changes.  Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) is a conglomerate of the ranches in West Marin that have joined in the trust.  Point Reyes National Seashore and MALT preserves this entire peninsula forever.  MALT is the reason why you pass lands that have cattle on them, as well as drive through National Seashore.

Pt. Reyes & MALT private lands with the Ocean beyond

I had an exquisite morning of tracking with the group.  Most of the group leaders have trained with Jon Young and are very dedicated trackers and students.  The sands are always shifting, the wildlife patterns regularly changing.  Today we saw a lot of bobcat activity.

Bobcat track

Lots of bobcat tracks

Bobcat scat

A faded skunk track loped up the dunes as well.


We spent some time analyzing a nice 2×2 raccoon track.

Raccoon tracks 2x2

Notice in each pair there is a large foot and a smaller foot–a hind paired with a front.


My favorite track was the good ole’ coyote.  We observed the tracks of mating play, but what was most instructive for me was breaking down a coyote lope track, and analyzing a transverse patten as the coyote was speeding up.  While considering the track, four otters were playing in the lagoon.  Scott, our leader, told us about a time he was observing some otters when they submerged, then reappeared right under a coot.  The otter grabbed the coot, and on its second try, had it for a meal.  The lagoon was filled with coots lazily feeding, and not too far from these otters.

Gulls galore Abbott's Lagoon

Tracking Club Marin

Though the sign at the Parking lot entrance talks about ‘Vanishing Dunes’, the lagoon is alive with wildlife.