Central Texas Specialist Certification 5/22/2016
Casey McFarland and I conducted a Track and Sign Specialist Certification for Earth Native Wilderness School in Austin, Texas from May 21-22, 2016. During a specialist certification, participants have to answer 50 very difficult questions and 7 bonus (extremely difficult) questions over 2 days. Two evaluators (1 standard and 1 external) are present at Specialist Certifications to ensure reliability and consistency.
We saw the tracks of 24 species, including 14 mammals, 3 birds, 2 herps, and 5 invertebrates. We had some major rains and flooding the day before we started and still somehow managed to find some great spots.
We spent the first morning under a large bridge and the afternoon at McKinney Roughs Nature Park where we saw tracks of beavers, hispid cotton rats, turtles climbing steep cliffs to find places to lay eggs, and a coyote-deer chase scene. We spent the second day at the Roy Guerrero River Park in Austin and saw the tracks from a swimming beaver, a crouching coyote, mole cricket, and many others.
Throughout the certification we encountered extremely obscure and difficult tracks. The group had a great time despite the difficult questions and hot, humid Austin weather.
Congratulations to all who attended. I especially want to thank Jessica Ennis and Jerry Stacy who helped out taking answers. A big thanks to Dave Scott for organizing this certification.