Title Image

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, September 30, 2011

Link Dump

A couple of rattlers, Crotalus oreganus, from the Peninsula.

Stem cell technology might be necessary to save the White Rhino with only two females left. Black Rhinos would make very suitable surrogates.

Wired.com is all over camera trapping the last 6 months. This time a study out of Indonesia using videos.  This compilation came from just one month of trapping, but 10 cameras. The water monitor, Varanus salvator, was unexpected. Are more studies using camera traps or are these studies just getting more press? When is Wired doing a story on the Codger?

Black Bear scat reported in Marin -- Camera Trapping Campus in on the case

Is that 12 hummingbirds in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

Tool using FISH!

Next week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Yes Nobel Prize week.  I have four old instructors on this betting list for chemistry, best odds being Scheckman at 19:1 Not seeing odds on Physiology & Medicine yet. If you are super nerd check this Nobel Prize watch 2011 blog.

And just as good as the Nobels, the Ig Nobels, where friend of the Codger Dave Rentz won this year. Dr Rentz's blog BunyipCo is over in the blogroll. CTC was into him before he was famous.

L'shana tova, my friends.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bobcats in the Mist

The great camera trap bloggers don't post their mistakes often.  They may make a few, but not many and have so many great shots that they just don't have the time to post misadventures. CTC is not quite there yet, so I present a misadventure.

Yes, that is a roadkill brush rabbit placed in front of the camera. I happened to have a plastic bag in the car on my way to camera trap when I saw the smashed little rabbit in the middle of the road. So of course, like a good Codger student, I pulled over and grabbed it, making sure no one was watching and jumped back into the car and headed on to the reserve.

This set is not necessarily a brain fart mistake, but the set has some obvious problems that are exacerbated in foggy, coastal Santa Cruz County, and made even worse when the camera is 100 feet from Monterey Bay.

A fogged up homebrew camera.  Woulda been, shoulda been, great shots.

I have tried silica packets but they don't seem to help all that much.

I was thinking Rain-X.  It might put a slight film on the glass, but has anyone tried putting Rain-X on the inside glass of their homebrew? It works pretty great on my windshield, water just flows right off of it.  I think I may give it a try on one of my homebrews. Any other thoughts on combating condensation?

Brew Blogging

I know Beer has little to do with camera trapping outside of being pretty much the best thing ever after a long day of trapping. That being said we are going to do a bit of brew blogging here at CTC if there are no objections.  If you really don't want to see non-camera trapping or wildlife posts let us know and we will consider moving it over to a separate blog, but I think many of our readers will enjoy the once a month or so brew post.

I have been doing some all-grain beer brewing so I will be writing about your more traditional West Coast homebrewing.

Christian is doing some hipster brewing (things you have probably never heard of) and will write a bit about that.

We won't turn this into a beer blog, just some posts on our own stuff.  I will be brewing a new batch on Saturday and kegging a modified recipe of what someone was calling a Mojave Red that we brewed about a month ago. Yeah I liked the name too.

Welcome to the Fermentation Zone

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Arabian Leopard Update

They made it to their $15,000 goal.  Thanks to any of our readers and Codger readers who helped contribute. CTC is proud to support this project, helping both the Arabian leopards and giving two full time jobs to local Yemenis.  Involving the local population is the only way to save endangered wildlife. We have to make it more profitable for these animals to be alive than dead especially in very poor regions. This idea is hashed out very well in David Quammens's book Monsters of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind. We highly recommend reading this one if you have not already done so.

There is an article in our local Santa Cruz Sentinel about our friend Seabass heading over to Yemen and working on this project.  Hopefully he will be posting some great Arabian Leopard shots soon.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Link Dump

Deadman's Lake. Tahoe National Forest. Taken during the 2009 Camera Trap Workshop

Giant Armadillo caught on camera trap in Brazil!

100 year old glass slides depict early bone hunters.

An amphibian killing beetle larva.  Original paper in PLOS One (yeah open access!)

Deep-sea squid is Forever Alone (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

Marin County pest management, Owl style.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Something Old, Something New

It was a beautiful day in Santa Cruz, perhaps only the 5th sunny and hot day of 2011's traditional summer + Indian summer, when Camera Trapping Campus met up to collect data from recent sets. Cams had been scattered throughout the reserve -- some in a few unexplored sections and others in areas already observed, where we are aiming to be species specific.

The marsh is one location that has been trapped with good success, so we will begin with the new goods from that spot.

An expected and returning character made an appearance two days in:

This one of fifteen raccoon visits over thirty-five days.

Next up for the expected; a young buck:

Now, getting those characters out of the way, may I introduce a new fellow on the scene -- a first for Younger Lagoon and a first for any of my sets:

Tyto alba

The Barn Owl visited the second day of camera operation and was captured just this once.
An enticing prize for future sets? Surely an owl specific set lies in the wait !

More to come from the marsh from Jake.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Showtl Strike Two


Long, long ago we set-up some cameras for the Codger's Camera Trapping Workshop.  I wanted to try my hand at the elusive Mountain Beaver as I struck out on a couple of short sets at last year's workshop.

Above you can see the "Before" on 6/18 and "After" images of the set.  The picture on the left is on day 1 (6/18/11) and on the right day 26 on (7/13/11), the last day an image was taken.  As you can see there was quite a bit of growth during those 26 days.

Setting up on the entrance/exit of the Aplodontia burrow, I hoped to get, well, Aplodontia. Instead all I got was a Chickaree or The Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii). But as you can see the Doug squirrel was coming in and out of the Aplodontia burrow.





The Codger has gotten a lot of different species in his magnificent Aplodontia burrow sets.  Will a Chickaree be next? I had to throw this post up in a hurry just in case it is to keep from getting scooped by ol' Codge once again.

Also got a few birds, which seemed to be about all I was getting in the early Summer. Feel free to correct my bird IDs if I have them wrong.

American Robin, Turdus migratorius

Wilson's Warbler, Wilsonia pusilla

Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler, Dendroica coronata audubonii

I got a blurry picture of what might be a yellow warbler for the warbler trifecta, but it is not a good enough image to be sure.

Alas, no Showtls. Strike Two.  I will try again next year and hope not to strike out swinging on three pitches.

UPDATE: Changed to subspecific: Audubon's Warbler, Dendroica coronata audubonii

Friday, September 16, 2011

Link Dump

Big buck from the UCSC campus.  They don't get much bigger out here on the coast.

Coyotes taking up residence in an abandoned SoCal home to be trapped and euthanized. Thoughts?
A bunch of new frogs in India.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is not the only town with raccoon problems.  Our state capitol has raccoon gang problems.

Chuck Testa! One of the most amazing commercials of all time.

Dinosaur feathers found in amber.  The images are awesome.

And a Giant extinct Crocodile found in Colombia.  In the same deposit as the Giant snake and thick shelled turtles from a few years back.

The Nile Crocodile is actually two distinct species.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dune Critters

I forgot I still owe you all more desert photos.  Hope you still care enough to take a look and can make it through this looooooong post.


In case you weren't able to guess where we found this previous desert tortoise at the end of the post, it was in the Kelso Dunes.


Speaking of the Kelso Dunes, Randomtruth, reminded me of this video from the BBC's "Life in the Undergrowth," that was filmed in our dunes.  Welcome to our playground Sir Attenborough.  The video tells the fascinating life history of the blister beetle, Meloe franciscanus, which can be seen running around frantically all over the dunes and on the road into them.

Now back to the pictures and our story of the dunes.

Uma are a species of lizard known by the common moniker, fringe-toed lizard. They are endemic to a few isolated dunes in the deserts of the American Southwest and Baja California. The Mojave species is Uma scoparia.  These guys are quite easy to see running around the dunes, but unless you are looking hard you usually only see a tail in the air as they speed away from you.  Early in the day before they have had a chance to warm all the way up they move a little slower and are easier to sneak up on and photograph.






While pictures are nice you have to see these guys move to really appreciate them.  Here is a short video of a fringe-toed lizard in a PBS Nature special on Death Valley.

Here are a couple of close-ups to show the adaptations that make them swim through the sand.

The fringe-toes that give Umas their common name. A little out of focus, sorry.

A snout made for diving into the sand

Pretty patterns don't really help them swim in sand but are nice to look at anyways

John and I spent well over an hour with the sun radiating off of the white sands tracking a sidewinder.  Most every night the wind blows and erases the day's tracks giving a fresh slate every morning.  This allows for excellent tracking. We followed its tracks losing them and refinding them, losing and refinding, over and over again for hundreds of meters.  The rest of the group would wander over to check our progress get bored and move on.  Come back a bit later to see if the crazy men had found their prize and move along again. Unlike in years past we had to give up, out of water, hotter than hell and embarrassed at our defeat.

Long-nosed leopard lizard, Gambelia wislizenii

Long-nosed leopard Lizard, Gambelia wislizenii

Desert Iguana, Dipsosaurus dorsalis

Along the way we found many a coyote track, lizard and snake tracks, rodent tracks and a veritable kit fox highway.


It is quite fun to look at all the tracks and imagine all these creatures plying their way through the dunes overnight and early morning.  I just love the idea of trotting Canidae out on the prowl before it gets hot, prancing among the dune evening primrose.

Oenothera deltoides

Despite being shook by the Crotalus cerastes, all was not lost.  We ended up find nine of them on the road during our two-hour or so night drive.  I am not sure I would have put in all that time tracking if I had known our best cerastes night ever lay ahead of us, but I do really get enjoyment out of tracking in the sand.




I will leave you with one campfire lunch picture from the day.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Link Dump

Photo of 2nd White Shark at MBA by friend and Flickr user baltus15

African Golden Cat video from a camera trap with multiple videos.  You can see another camera in the background so they got both sides of the cat.  Wonder if the other one was set to video or still?

The Green Anole, Anolis carolinensis, genome is published in Nature.

Humpback Whale is hanging out in Monterey Bay and is visible from the Boardwalk on many days. Hopefully it doesn't do this.

Wishing the Chancellor a speedy recovery.

Mt. Lion roadkill on the 405 in Los Angeles.  Bummer.

The story of the WWF logo.

Monterey Bay Aquarium has a White Shark on display again. GO SEE IT!

UC Berkeley Scientists discover a supernova within hours of its explosion (well within hours of the first light from the explosion to make its long journey to Earth). You can even see it with a pair of binoculars. GO SEE IT!

I originally had a photo of a monster (for us coastal folks) buck for this link dump, but the shark wins with authority.  Those of you who drool over big bucks will have to wait another week.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sierra Valley Foxes

As the Codger alluded to, we picked up some cameras in the High Sierras a little while back.  I also did a short set at a cabin I was staying at in Sierra Valley.  First, because this blog is in desperate need of some camera trapped mammals before we get back to the birds I present two, one-night sets.

The first night I put up my camera on a rock 10 feet or so from the rock we (CTC, The Codger, Randomtruth and SPP) used to get the brother fox visitor that was so interested in the Mr. Screechy doll back in June.

Right on cue, we got a fox visitor in five images. 2 for 2 for foxes in this locale. Randomtruth and I discussed the fact that the property must be on the regular nightly loop for this fox.

Only later did I realize that there were two foxes in this image.

The next day I was wandering around the property looking at the Native American acorn grinding pestles (I gotta start taking handheld shots for these posts) in the granite rocks when I started to notice a lot of fox scat. I mean A LOT.  Hundreds of them. Around the base of a rock outcropping.  In between the rocks. Everywhere.  Some old. Some attracting flies.  I figured that the foxes might be living in the dark recesses of these rocks mere feet from the campfire ring. The property may not just be on the nightly loop, but it appeared that it was on the daily hide-spot circuit too.

I soon found a rabbit foot.  Then a squirrel haunch. Then a bird wing. A wing that may or may not have been a chicken. Boggis, Bunce and Bean are not happy.

So I reset on this outcropping hoping that I would get them again, this time with both foxes in full frame.

3 for 3.

Not sure if this is a mated pair of foxes or Mrs. Fox, that sexy vixen, and her older pup.  One of them seems to have those fluffy paws that are a touch too big for their body, making me lean towards mom and pup.

This potential pup looks more Ash than Kristofferson Silverfox though.

I always enjoy the out of focus nose right in the camera image.

Are either of these foxes the same brother fox from two months ago?

One of them found the stick dipped in Predator 700 lure.  Carried it to lower ground and licked it and moved it again. Or maybe ate it as the stick disappears in the next image. Yum. Notice the not-so-fluffy paws.

The eye shine is pretty rough in some of these images, but I am not really sure there is any good way to reduce it, other than post-processing which I was not able to do without the eyes looking fake.  No perfect picture in the bunch but a good number of decent ones.

We will see if we can make it 4 for 4 the next time we are up in the area.

I will delay the traditional (if 5 weeks is a tradition) Friday Link Dump until Monday to keep from stepping on a busy week of posting by CTC standards.  Hopefully the Codger doesn't steal too many of our links. :)