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, 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

Friday, February 7, 2014


I got back from a quick trip to Belize a couple of weeks ago. I should start to trickle out some posts from our adventures and misadventures there in the coming weeks.

However it was a little weird landing back in the States and filling out my custom form.


I had literally nothing to declare. Not even a bottle of hot sauce. No souvenirs bought for myself or anyone else.

Or so I thought.

Turns out I did bring back a souvenir.

Four of them for that matter.

Dermatobia hominis

One in my shoulder, one on my side-boob, on in my shin, and lastly one on my ankle.

I didn't realize what was going on until last night. I just thought they were bites that had gotten infected and were taking forever to heal. They kept oozing liquid and blood and there was a hard nodule under the surface of the skin that I thought was just an inflammatory reaction. Every once in a while a shooting pain would spread quickly from the bite. Sharp enough to wake me from my sleep, but nothing earth-shattering. Overall the bite site was sore, but I could tolerate it. But instead of getting better these symptoms got a bit worse.

My mom suggested it was botfly because her friends kid once went to Belize and got a botfly ... you know how those mom stories go.

But I was concerned enough that I did some google image search of botfly wounds.

"Shit. My bites look a lot like those", I thought.

Then I thought I could feel the larva moving when I pressed on the wound, but I wasn't sure if it was all in my dome.

Then I put some Vicks Vapor Rub on the open hole. After a bit one of the little bastards stuck their head out to breath. Only then was I 100% sure I had the botfly.

Vern at approximately two weeks of age. He lived in my shoulder. He was growing quickly, feeding off of my flesh. He might have lived to be 2cm if I hadn't ended it all so early

Botfly breathing tunnel in my ankle

Human Botfly, or Dermatobia hominis, can use mosquitos to be the vector for their eggs, which explained why I never saw a large fly bite me and still got the youngin' living inside of me. From wikipedia:

Dermatobia fly eggs have been shown to be vectored by over 40 species of mosquitoes and muscoid flies, as well as one species oftick;[2] the female captures the mosquito and attaches its eggs to its body, then releases it. Either the eggs hatch while the mosquito is feeding and the larvae use the mosquito bite area as the entry point, or the eggs simply drop off the muscoid fly when it lands on the skin. The larvae develop inside the subcutaneous layers, and after approximately eight weeks, they drop out to pupate for at least a week, typically in the soil. The adults are large flies resembling bumblebees. They are easily recognized because they lack mouthparts (as is true of other Oestrid flies).

Now what? Again remedies from wikipedia:

Recently, physicians have discovered that venom extractor syringes can remove larvae with ease at any stage of growth. As these devices are a common component of first-aid kits, this is an effective and easily accessible solution.[3] 
A larva has been successfully removed by first applying several coats of nail polish to the area of the larva's entrance, weakening it by partial asphyxiation.[4] 
Covering the location with adhesive tape would also result in partial asphyxiation and weakening of the larva, but is not recommended because the larva's breathing tube is fragile and would be broken during the removal of the tape, leaving most of the larva behind.[4] 
The easiest and most effective way to remove botfly larvae is to apply petroleum jelly over the location, which prevents air from reaching the larva, suffocating it. It can then be removed with tweezers safely after a day. 
Oral use of ivermectin, an antiparasitic avermectin medicine, has proved to be an effective and non invasive treatment that leads to the spontaneous emigration of the larva.[5] This is especially important for cases where the larva is located at inaccessible places like inside the inner canthus of the eye.

I tried the venom extractor kit first. That worked for the one on my shin, but just gave me a hickie at the other three locations.

So asphyxiation with camphor flavored petroleum jelly, AKA Vick's Vapor Rub. That worked anywhere from 12-18 hours later.

I was tempted to let the one I called Carlito, live in my ankle, and hatch him out, but it was living on close to the joint, so if I did too much walking, he'd get angry and start throwing those spines into the wall of his tunnel (my flesh) and things would get sore.