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Title Image


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.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Going into the Weekend Link Dump

Lilly pads in Utica Reservoir, California

It was a very busy week so this is the only post of the week. Sorry, but enjoy.

Dam removal in Washington state should help the salmoniods.

Australian Landscapes from the 1860s.

A plant that calls to bats. But is a Communist plant so Americans, you are out of luck if you want to see it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Going into the Weekend Link Dump


How about a photo of the Big Sur Coast to get us started?  A great place for California Condor spotting.  The condors have the right idea here.

Apex predators on the decline and what that means: a Science paper from our very own UC Santa Cruz.

Not the Lake Merritt Monster, but a possible monster out of Alaska. (no not her).

A fossilized pregnant lizard.

You know how I love my roadkill studies.  This one from the other side of the pond.

Extra "thumbs" on moles explained via genetics.

100 Anniversary of the -rediscovery of Machu Picchu.

Hope everyone had fun at the Codger's Camera Trapping Workshop this week. Sorry I missed you all.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Randomtruth posted some great photos from our Mojave trip. One of them included an in hand picture of a yellow backed spiny lizard, Sceloporus uniformis "right before it ravaged [his] hand."

I am said that the Mojave Sceloperus has lost its designation as magister not too long ago as the splitters won the current round.  magister is so much better than uniformisuniformis is so plain and well, uniform. S. magister on the other hand screams importance and these really are one of the coolest lizards around.  Stunning markings, fun behavior and fairly tough to get in hand.

Back to the story I started. This guy was not happy getting his picture taken and he let randomtruth know it. Here is the series of photos of said hand ravaging.  I have to say that we were all laughing about as hard as you can in 100°F heat.  As you can see we are all taking pictures of the little lizard getting his revenge.

Holding on hard


Taking his picture again

Do not like!  I will bite you some more!


Let go ... let go ... let go

This is where we laugh and take more pictures

Going into the Weekend Link Dump Part III

This week's photo by Christian. Estero Americano

I was actually able to live up to my promise.

A beating tarantula heart viewed under MRI.

Nature program on the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Seeing the Great Whites in person was certainly an awe inspiring time. It is a creature that takes your breath away even at 5 feet long.

Ghost Mushrooms.  Too late for this year's class, but next year take it from the master.  Offered at the same field campus that the Codger teaches the camera trap class at (starts Sunday- Wish I was there). I hope to take the fungi class next year.

A toad once lost is found again after 87 years on the lam.  Ansonia latidisca is a pretty one.

Is the Afghanistan snow leopard population healthy despite the war?  Some camera trap images suggests it is.

A good science based comic from XKCD for the cell phones cause cancer peeps out there.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Desert Tortoises

I have posted Desert Trip photos about as fast as the desert tortoise crosses the road, probably even slower.

RandomTruth did a great run-down of the species we saw and shared some great pictures, so be sure to check his post out.  I also recommend checking out his Flickr account linked in the post for some awesome flower pictures.  It was such a treat to have a botanist on the trip with us to tell us what each of the 70+ flowers we saw were. In the past we were confined to "That's a pretty flower." "Have we seen this one yet? It is pretty." Randomtruth taught us herpers a lot about the flora of the Mojave.

Speaking of crossing the road, that is the only time you should ever touch a desert tortoise.  If you find a tortoise on the road, you should pick it up lifting it no more than 6" off the ground, still very upright and move it 50 feet or so off of the road and make sure it keeps heading away from the road.  It is important to do it in this manner so that the tortoise does not expel is bladder in defense and lose all that precious water. This is the only time you are legally allowed to touch these guys and CTC strongly recommends following this law.  On our 2011 trip, we found three different tortoises.  One male, one female, and one sex undetermined.  See, unless they are pretty big it is tough to tell sex without looking at the bottom of the shell or carapace which is slightly more concave in males.  They notch between the anal scutes may also have a different angle if you know what you are looking for.  But since we cannot look at the ventral carapace of desert tortoises because we cannot pick them up the only thing we can really determine sex with is tail length.  Males have a longer tail as it has to house their hemipene.

Here are a the three tortoises we found in the Eastern Mojave.

Moving across the road all on his own

Off the road and still moving faster than I can post

Found a good hiding spot

Creosote flowers on the lips

What a backdrop for this sweet gal. Can you guess where we found her?

I did not have a blog during the time of our 2010 trip so I will include pictures of the three tortoises we found in 2010.  In 2010 we found one male that had to be moved off of the road, a huge female almost right in our camp and a very small yearling.  The yearling was spotted from the car in the side of a bank as we drove in reverse because we had hit an impassable section of road with no turn around point.  Talk about some good bizarre luck!.

Male after moving it off the road.  First wild desert tortoise for me.

Female roaming near camp.

Big Female hiding in the creosote a few hours before the above picture above was taken

Yearling hiding from the monkeys

Yearling near hide spot

Shell close-up

If you want to familiarize yourself better with tortoise anatomy I recommend the aptly names Anatomy of a Tortoise, by J. Stuart Thomson.  I got this book about 3 months ago from the publisher, but it looks like it has gone out of print and now costs $64-222!.  Maybe the library or peruse my copy if you are in my neck of the woods?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Going into the Weekend Link Dump

Carrizo Plains National Monument Spring 2010

Hippo-sized Wombats!

The first draft of the Naked Mole Rat Genome.

Will Global Climate Change lead to a wetter, colder Bay Area?

Arizona camera trap images of an ocelot.

I have compiled the link dump over the week adding links as the days go on. I will see if I can manage to post one going into each weekend three weeks in a row.  So some of these stories may be a couple of days old and you may have already seen them.

Plus a pretty picture at top to make these link dump posts look a little more interesting.  This was a picture I took in 2010 during a really epic wildflower bloom.  Bad luck gave me an overcast day the day I was down there, but it was still a sight to see.

On another note you are going to have to wait a bit longer for more Mojave pics.  I shot everything in Raw but my computer is having a heck of a time running lightroom right now.  Hopefully I will get this rectified soon.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cougar or Bobcat

That is the question.  Whoever said there is no such thing as a dumb question was wrong.  This was a dumb question.  It is a bobcat with 100% certainty, but that doesn't stop some ignorant people from making the opposite argument.  Reading the comments will make your brain hurt, so don't do it on a July 4th hangover. Not sure why the Chronicle didn't do 10 seconds of reporting and talk to a mammalogist.  It is not like there is a lack of mammalogists in the area, but maybe this is part of the "lamestream" media's obsession with there being two sides to every story even when one side is demonstrably false just so that they cannot be accused of a liberal bias.


UPDATE: See clarification in comments

Friday, July 1, 2011