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This blog is predominately about camera trapping in California. We camera trap to save our souls and to teach primary school students about biology and conservation. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from afar, mediocre herpetology, sucky birding, and other natural history discussions.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Semester with the Otters

A quick review of the first six months of this past year's Biology class adventures with Las Gallinas Valley River Otters:

River Otters chasing down waterfowl (image courtesy Frankie Frost/Marin IJ)

Students identified latrine sites

Cameras were placed based on field surveys. The otters emerged and began to appear on camera from April on with a regularity.

Some grooming and general otter spazziness has been observed.

Students were able get a nice glimpse of their swimming patterns.

In addition to the otters, students have been able to get to know other local fauna. One of their favorites, CA kingsnakes, were out frequently this late spring/early summer.

The school year ended July 1st, but I have continued to collect data and craft curriculum this summer for next year's class, which transitions into Environmental Science.

not sure if there is a young one among this bunch

This has been a pretty awesome experience to share with my students and I hope that their appreciation for the natural world and the possibilities for citizen science have grown as a result.  
Next "year" is coming up soon and hopefully the adventure continues deeper into the story of the otter!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Introducing the Otters

Greetings loyal readers!

As mentioned a couple of months ago, my high school Biology classes are taking part of a pilot program with the River Otter Ecology Project, completing data surveys through camera trapping and scat collection.

Several initial disappointing camera checks frequently resulted in many captures of newish local resident, the devil bird:

...Or tremendous growth in shore plants that did offer a meditative atmosphere:

Throughout these trap fails, students were still able to build skills in identifying signs of otters, collect scat that is currently being analyzed at SF State, develop a greater understanding of the local ecosystem and from time to time, see them swimming at a a distance.

In April, with some minor camera adjustments after Spring Break, the students finally captured the local otters:

With a month left in the school year, students will close out this first otter school season with two more weeks of data, then compile a best of video. Exciting times!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


11.2015 San Francisco Peninsula

this image sums up the feelings toward March 23rd, 2016

also RIP Phife Dawg

Sunday, March 20, 2016


As mentioned in a previous post, Deadman did not prove to be a highly successful camera trap trip in winter 2014-15.

This mysterious footage was all that was recovered from a video set.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Face Off

The Hummer isn't quite in focus, but I'll take it from a camera trap.
Same spot as the glorious bathing spotted towhee
Mariposa County: April 2015