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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On The Road

"Why think about that when all the golden land's ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?"

In the middle of February, most Bay Area schools include a week to catch one's breath known as "ski week".  The lady and I took the week as a chance to get out of the city and explore the southwestern deserts in Zion and Death Valley National Parks. Both parks were new to me and both provided incredible sights and experiences even while we merely scratched the surface of each.

Of course, a camera trap was brought along -- the Sony s600 homebrew, which has been eternally existing in various states of malfunction.

Kind folk put us up in Rockville, a sleepy town just outside of Zion. The first night was a swell welcome to the wild: while gazing through the skylight at the brilliant display of stars, a pack of coyotes howled maniacally in the near distance.

Of course, my trap was not yet set up -- though I don't think it would have mattered:

Every capture pretty much looked like this

The nights in Utah were cold and frosty. When packing, I failed to go through my trapping checklist and forgot desiccants.  For those of you in the colder climes, would desiccants have solved this problem? Rain-X on the glass plate?

view atop Angels Landing, ZNP (Holga Style)

desert wood rat midden 

Next up, Death Valley. 
The high from Zion was intense and with our overworked minds and bodies now revitalized, we soared like the condor along Utah State Route 9. 
Our thermal back to CA went through the mighty town of Ka-NAB, Utah. There, a deer roadkill was on the side of the road with an eagle tearing at its rib meat. A slam on the breaks and I leapt out the vehicle. I discovered the eagle had some buddies -- two California Condors!

Immature Bald Eagle

California Condor

On to Death Valley...

sloppy panorama

Zabriskie Point

Camera trap success was finally achieved with the s600 the first windy night!

Desert or Merriam's Kangaroo Rat?

I lean towards Merriam's.

The final notable adventure was a ramble to Darwin Falls, on the western edge of the park. Viewing the lower falls was a great experience, but with a little scrambling over rock edges, being alone at the upper falls was truly magical.

Lower Darwin Falls

Upper Darwin Falls

The trip was a fantastic introduction to both parks, with plans for future adventures and their needed resources already floating around my head.

J. Kerouac
H. Chavez
S. Wong


  1. Glad to see that it was a good trip. Great scenery. I used to get so inspired by such trips that I would dictate ideas for manuscripts to the redhead. While driving of course. So many thoughts I knew I wouldn't remember them all. 100 points for the condors.

  2. Wow, incredible places and beautiful photographs.

  3. I am very jealous of the condor find.

    Also, glad you made it to Darwin Falls. Did you make it to Racetrack Playa? I have still yet to see it, but will get there one of these days.

  4. Codge: the inspiration from these places is truly immeasurable

    Jake: Did not make it to Racetrack or Eureka Dunes because we did not have a high-clearance vehicle/ didn't want to pay ridic fees for rental. Next time though... both of those places are on the must see list.

    I didn't mention it in the post, but Mosaic Canyon was another Death Valley highlight. A place that I could probably spend a few days in itelf.

    and thanks BL!

  5. Darwin Falls is fantastic indeed.

    I would say that the kangaroo rat is D. deserti with 85% certainty.



  6. Steller shot of Zabriskie point. In the originals of the k-rat, can you see a white tail tip? That's pretty distinctive for deserti. The pelage color seems more Merriams, though. The tail looks a bit bi-color too, which, if so, should eliminate deserti. But then, it's all pretty wild spec w/o them in hand.