Tracking is not only finding sign. Meghan Walla-Murphy considers the discipline a creative skill, most resembling an art. She will share her expertise with Peregrine Audubon on Tuesday, March 20, 7p.m. at the Ukiah Civic Center. While tracking in the Kalahari, she learned the term "Kyk mooi" from South African trackers descended from the Bushmen which loosely translates as "to look beautifully." Kyk mooi is to see what is really there rather than preconceived notions and to better understand the messages left by our fellow creatures.
Finding tracks in sand is straight forward. But for Walla-Murphy actual tracks are only a beginning. How many of us would be able to recognize that an animal passed though the dunes at Dillon Beach from the odor of its urine? "Very distinctive" she describes the smell red fox urine, nothing like that of the native gray fox.
Walla-Murphy has a broad educational and experiential background ranging from Japanese history to biology along with travels to China, Brazil and Africa. She brings much more to the discipline than merely the mechanics of tracking saying, "while the subject hits each person deeply, it is also a highly individual journey into nature" and "most people are astonished by what can be elucidated about animal behavior" with these techniques. She emphasizes that "it is a non-invasive way into wildlife that leaves both observer and observed at peace." For many the experience can be transforming.
Meghan is co-author with James Halfpenny on the book, "Track Plates for Mammals".
This Peregrine Audubon sponsored presentation is free to the public, though donations will be welcome. The Ukiah Civic Center is located at 300 Seminary Ave. To join Peregrine Audubon Society and receive a newsletter with regular announcements about programs and field trips, please send $20 to PAS, P.O. Box 311, Ukiah, CA 95482. For more information on a wide variety of topics related to birding in Mendocino County and to sign up for email notifications please go to www.peregrineaudubon.org.