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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, February 29, 2012

Brewer's Corner: To Grandmother's House We Go

I have a few of homebrew posts to write and get up here on this blog, but I have been spending more time drinking beer than writing about beer.

We will get started with a Red Ale that I brewed with my good friend Alex, aka onegoodarm.  This was a bit of a kitchen sink ale, where we threw a recipe together from the grain and hops we had left-over from a few other brews.  However, the brew crew had recently brewed both American and Irish Red Ales, so we had the material for another Red.  The American Red was the second beer I ever brewed. It was decent but was not awesome.  The real problem with it was that it kinda fell in between two different styles.  It was not malty and bready enough to be an Irish, but was not quite crisp and hoppy enough for an interesting West Coast American Red.

We decided to fix this with a new recipe and dry hopping the smack out of it.  4ozs total of dry hop went into it and a hoppy American Red Ale was born.  We christened her Little Red Hopping Hood. Probably the most clever beer name I have come up with to date. We dry hopped in the keg so as the keg matured and the keg got drank, the beer changed.  It was probably best at week two, T-minus 2 gallons when the hops gave off the perfect, albeit strong, floral, herb aroma.

Primary fermentation
Primary fermentation prior to transferring

Transferring to the soda keg

Yes, Little Red Hopping Hood was clever, but I have seen a few craft beers out there with great pun names that I really wish I had thought of first.

(1) Hoptimus Prime by Legacy Brewing: Reading, PA.
(2) Tricerahops Double IPA: Nikasi Brewing: Eugene, OR
(3) Hopacolypse: Drake's Brewing: San Leandro, CA (I am drinking this as I write this post and at 9.6% it is certainly a big boy beer, but has a very fresh hop flavor. Highly recommended)

Help a brother out with any good Hop puns that I can use for an upcoming IPA.

Little Red Hoppinghood
In the glass after 3 weeks of dry hopping

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let's Talk About the Weather

Old pic but you get the idea. Actually no clouds in the sky today.

If you don't live in the Bay Area you are poor soul with no hope for a happy life ... it is 75°F outside today ... In February.

Time to go buy some brewing supplies and get outside.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Wish List

Gila Monster
Photo by Flickr user Lon&Queta used under a Creative Commons License

Instead of a New Year's Resolution to lose weight, or drink less beer (those two may go hand in hand and should get done) I decided to go with something I am more likely to accomplish.

In 2012 I am going to check off some species on my herp life list.  I am going to set an ambitious goal for 4 of the top 10. Here are the top 10 that I actually have the possibility of checking off.  I am not going to get to Hellbender or Pseudotriton habitat this year. These are not in strict order so I reserve the right to switch the order around as I deem fit.

(1) California Mt Kingsnake: Pyromelana zonata (embarrassing I don't have this yet, I know)

(2) Santa Cruz Long-toe Salamander:  Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum

(3) Gila Monster: Heloderma suspectum

(4) Large-blotched Salamander, Ensatina eschscholtzii klauberi: I will be in San Diego in March if any one has tips on this guy.

(5) Black-headed Snake, Tantilla sp.: I am not picky and I will take any species.

(6) Speckled Rattlesnake: Crotalus mitchellii

(7) Regal Horned Lizard, Phrynosoma solare: Not sure if I will get far enough South but it is going on the list

(8) Black-tailed Rattlesnake: Crotalus molossus

(9) Western Spadefoot Toad: Spea hammondii

(10a) Variable Groundsnake, Sonora semiannulata semiannulata (Another mystifying miss)

(10b) Green Toad: Anaxyrus debilis

I cheated and went with 10a and 10b because I could not decide what to leave off the list, yet wanted to give myself a chance at getting 4. If forced I might narrow the list down by cutting one of the two Crotalus species. If I don't make it to Arizona as planned, this is going to be a really tough goal to reach.

Last year I got the biggies Ambystoma macrodactylum sigillatum, Chionactis occipitalis occipitalis,
and Anniella pulchra. Which reminds me that I never posted on either of these latter great finds. The Shovel-nose was found in the Mojave and the Legless lizard was found with the guidance of Randomtruth.

Two years ago, the biggest find was California Desert Tortoise. I went from seeing none to seeing both a male and a female, and a yearling.  Desert tortoises showed their faces again last year (this post  includes the pictures from 2010 as well as 2011).

What is on your 2012 wish list?  I will even accept modern dinosaurs (aka birds).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Waterfowl at YLR

It was a beautiful morning Thursday at Younger Lagoon with a wide variety of waterfowl and other birds out and about.

A pair of white tail kites were harassing a marsh hawk then perched on the a wire fence and coyote bush.



Male Green-wing Teal

His female traveling partner
A pair of Spoonies
A male heavy group of Ring-neck ducks
Close-up of piece of Garter Snake

I found this piece of garter snake on the trail.  It had been eaten up by something.

Mammalian Critters

Like I said not a great set, but pickings have been slim. That whole graduate school thing getting in the way of fun.




Woodrat using the trees branches as a highway

Bobcat butt

Bobcat Shoulder

I just cannot seem to get the bobcats to look at the camera right now.  Going to have to try a new approach.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sniff and Run

It has been a slow start to camera trapping in 2012 for both of us here at Camera Trapping Campus, so I thought it was time for a Sniff and Run to get back on track.

sniff and run   |snif and rən|
a quick intake of something that intrigues the senses before continuing on

The first location that entered my mind for such an endeavor was Fox Nap Rock, Kent Lake. The possibilities for another set here seemed varied, interesting and guaranteed -- thus a return visit was made.
Over a span of nine days (two soaked by much needed rainfall), four species visited, with seven unique visits total.

The Participants:

Additional (Partially Obscured) non-Sniffer:

and this one just makes me laugh

The Sniff and Run did its job perfectly: providing a feeling of success along with an itch to unveil more.

As a teaser, excitement is brewing regarding planned or potential sets involving:

- urban visitor studies
- Put a Bird On It (raptor nests, Sapsuckers and the bird communities around them)
- a partnership in my classroom with Felidae Fund

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mt. Lion talk on UCSC campus

Upcoming talk at UCSC open to the public. Classroom Unit 2 holds a couple hundred people so there should be plenty of room.

Do you want to know more about mountain lions, our large feline
neighbors that have been in the news recently with several reported
sightings near campus?

Environmental Studies Professor Chris Wilmers, who has been tracking
and studying mountain lions in the Santa Cruz Mountains for three
years, will discuss his research at an informational seminar "Mountain
Lions and People in the Santa Cruz Mountains,"  7 p.m. Monday,
February 13, in Classroom Unit 2

All are welcome and bring your questions.

Wilmers will explain what he and his colleagues are learning about
mountain lion travel, habits, and behavior as part of  the  Santa Cruz
Puma Project.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Cast of Critters

I did not get very many good pictures on my last set of 2011, but I am going to post a few anyways. We cannot just have a bunch of link dumps and no original content.

So I present some birds of YLR. All images have been cropped.

The Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)
Pale eye-ring, pale chest spots on throat and smudged spots on breast

Good look at the eye-ring and pinkish legs

Brown head and back with "distinctly warm, reddish tail"

American Robin, Turdus migratorius

Another American Robin

California Quail Callipepla californica

Unidentified flying critter

Cornell Ornithology Lab Links:

Hermit Thrush 
American Robin
California Quail

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Link Dump

Rainbow Trout eggs in our classroom !

Coho Salmon are returning to Lagunitas Creek in Marin. I (christian) had a chance to see the coho last weekend -- a wonderful experience.

Totally sweet time-lapse video of Yosemite.

The always great BibliOdyssey offers up turtle anatomy engravings.

Twitter (hobbies: wandering, ungulates)
NY times piece

California Condor Webcam

Love the perspective on this horned lizard photograph

Even Talking Points Memo (a political news site and blog) is on the Camera Trapping Bandwagon.

Fruitfly Genome 3D map.  This is the type of stuff I (JK) study.

New smallest vertebrate in the world. An adorable little frog.

Further cute alert ! Baby sea otter at the Seattle Aquarium.