This blog is predominately about camera trapping the University of California, Santa Cruz campus and a site in Marin that is being used to teach elementary school students about biology and conservation through camera trapping. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from other locations, natural history discussions and regular photography.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finding My White Whale

In Spring of this year, I got the call from Sean that we were on for a Zonata hunt, if I could get out during the week. Coming with us (more accurately taking us) was the esteemed California Mountain King researcher Mitch Mulks. If I was finally going to slay my white whale, Mitch was the person to help me do it. Mitch is the author of a beautiful book with lots of great photos of the different locales of Zonata (which looks to be out of print and going for $300 on Amazon!, maybe I need to sell my spare copy?!?). You should still be able to buy a copy for less than that at the East Bay Vivarium though.

We wandered around El Dorado County a bit and actually found this snake at the first spot we stopped at after about 30 minutes of searching. It was in a crack in the rocks, barely exposed. Mitch called me over to see it in situ before we pulled it out to get a good look. I have to admit I never would have seen it, and I don't know how he did. I guess thousands of hours in the field looking for Mt Kings make your eyes sharper. We admired it for 10 minutes and photographed it and then put it back in its little crack of a home.



We never sexed the snake, but we did notice an old wound on its side that was mostly healed. It looked like maybe it had been pecked with a beak.


The other guys had seen 4-5 rattlesnakes on the day and I hadn't seen a single one. In the midst of complaining about this fact, while walking along stacked granite wall, I got buzzed good. The rattles came about 12" at thigh height and I did the hip sway dance as I passed them. Walking back there were two individuals in this crack. One was calm and not bothered, the other shook that rattle constantly. I snapped a couple of proof photos and let them be.


Lastly we had a few other snakes on the day. This young yellow-bellied racer that I managed to mis-identify originally. My mind went to gopher snake, even though I knew it wasn't right by body shape and size. This was likely born this year.

We also saw, but didn't photograph including three whipsnakes, and a couple of garternsnakes.


The scenery wasn't half bad either. Remember when California Creeks had water in them?


Many thanks to Mitch for playing tour guide and sharing some of his spots with us. Looking forward to doing it again next Spring.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Calling All Frogs

A couple of videos of a male, Oophaga pumilio, calling. The female is in the upper part of the first video. Sorry about the dirty glass.

Isle Cristobal locale

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Change of Campuses


That is the message to myself in the draft of this post ... sitting in my draft box since March and I still haven't done it.

Sorry for the lack of posting. CTC has switched campuses. No more views of Monterey Bay on the beautiful UCSC campus. I started a postdoc at Stanford University in February and haven't been able to get out in the field much, let alone write-up any posts for this almost defunct blog. Thank God Christian has kept us alive with a couple of posts.

The banner is going to have to wait a bit longer for a picture change. I hope to start posting a bit more often, if we have any readers left.

The good news is that I didn't have to move far and I can keep up with some of the local Bay Area camera trappers in real life. Maybe I can get my cameras back out in the field soon too. I certainly missed seeing everyone at the annual Codger Kids reunion during pre-class set-up a couple of weeks ago.

So keep checking in ...

A couple of photos of the Stanford campus from other people because every post needs a photo or two. The aesthetics of imperfection and transience
Exploring the unknown...

A Happy 4th to our American readers

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Trail of the (bobbed) Tail

The bobcats of Mt. Tam have never been shy to CTC and the Winter Solstice set found one of their favorite paths.

They visited the area 8 times and from them, I'm thinking we have two individuals.

First on the scene stops and listens.

Then lots of walking the trail... away from our eye on the creek.

Finally, one walks toward us… !

A closing treat that I had missed upon first couple viewings of the videos: A bobcat walking the trail, followed by a trotting fox seconds later.

Friday, March 14, 2014


In December, people were starting to freak out in California about water. I had heard from some local farmers that they were worried about their entire crop coming close to failure.

Several rainstorms came in 2014 and they changed the drought situation from completely dire to pretty screwed.

Back in December, camera trapping was experiencing the effects of the drought as well, however a cure was on the way. Teacher chum Ryan brought up the idea of a Winter Solstice hike up Mt. Tam from one of the reservoirs.

We would bring a couple traps and surely along the way we would find a nice stream to place a set? 

Environs were mighty dry as we began bushwacking, with most stream beds solely dusty rocks and an occasional puddle of stagnant water.

Eventually, we did find a section of the stream that was running and choose to settle, given what we had observed previously. The stream itself was slow moving as it wound between boulders and underneath two fallen Doug Fir. I focused my camera on the widest pool that had formed at one bend. The camera would remain up for six weeks.

Today's post focuses on our feathered friends. They can claim first visit, and frankly it always seems like a nice treat when they show up during sets.

3 sharp-shinned hawk drink visits

A couple of Band-tailed Pigeons then arrived for a drink and a bath. 
You can see the "scum" that begins to accumulate in the water. The Codger had a recent post where a flock of band-tails invaded a pool leaving their mark behind. 
The great discussion that followed in the comments section included the fact nugget that the scum is a powder produced by the pigeons and is a sign of good health.

Finally, one of the last visitors to the set, a Varied Thrush. Unfortunately not in color, so we miss out on the splashes of vivid orange, but we do get to see some nice behavior as it forages among the leaf litter.

Next up: Bob