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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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Into the Fox's Den

While heading to town for ice, water, and to drop off garbage towards dusk we saw a kit fox, Vulpes macrotis, cross the road in front of us. It danced across the road like an awkward ballerina and we pulled over and immediately found sign of dens. Luckily I had a homebrew in the back of the car and Christian had a Bushnell set to video.

Kit Fox Den
JK next a Kit Fox den entrance

We put the camera on the den and came back the next morning to what we thought would be dozens of kit fox images.  We had seen the kit fox, we found a den and active sign, but no kit foxes on the camera. Just a bunch of its prey items, the kangaroo rat.

We changed the angle of the camera and left it up for another night. When we came back the next day on our way back to the Bay Area we picked up the cams.  At the time I thought I had only gotten one crappy kit fox picture. After getting home I saw that there were two images and this first one was not as bad as I had originally thought. Too bad he didn't look at the camera, but at least it us in full frame.  The den is in the lower left corner of the image and the camera is set-up behind the den, so as not to point right down into the den.

12:01 AM

And then the K-rats come out to dance with the devil, practically crawling into their predators den.





Then the fox comes back for one more image and one more sniff at the scent rock. I did not originally see the fox in this image while viewing on the camera.


The Bushnell cam was placed around a creosote bush about fifteen meters from the burrow and cam one.

Here, he makes a quick appearance rolling around in the gravel and then comes by the camera to smell us humans.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mojave Herp Holiday 2012

Camp2: Granite Mountain. Herp Hunters group photo
L to R: Ben, Randomtruth, Christian, John, JK. Not pictured Dave G.

We got back from our annual Mojave Desert trip a couple of weeks back, so hopefully if the grad school gods allow, we will be getting some posts up over the next month. I will try hard and not stretch them out for 51 weeks like I did last year.  Christian made it along this year, so you will be seeing truly collaborative posts.

On another note CTC now has a twitter feed, so if that is your thing follow us.  You can click the link here or the icon in the right hand side-bar. Items that used to go in the "Link Dump" will probably just end up in the twitter feed instead now.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Desert Freaks


Zzyzx Road
Creative Commons photo by Flickr user slworking2
Yeah that is right.

Not a misspelling.

West coast desert rats know it well.

Or maybe you saw Swingers and or some other Hollywood flick where the protagonists head from LA to Las Vegas. I doubt you saw the misspelled Zyzzyx Road, staring Katherine Heigl, considering its US gross was $30.

Yes 6 people saw this movie in the theaters.

I wish I was one of them, but sadly it was only showing in Texas. Netflix?

Or maybe you saw Zzyzx, the correctly spelled version. Another low-budget thriller set in the Mojave. Yeah, didn't think so.

Zzyzx is a California State University University of California research station in the eastern Mojave desert.


The research center is home to Vermillion Flycatchers in the Summer. I have not seen one mostly because I suck at birding. It is also home to the Mohave Chub, Gila bicolor mohavensis, an endangered fish. I have seen one Mohave Chub in my life. It was in the beak of a Kingfisher. Obviously a Kingfisher that doesn't give one shake about the law. Damn Rebel.

Sometimes in the desert you run into bizarre hippie shrines. Considering Zzyzx used to be a "health spa" it is not surprising that one can find shrines in the area. This one is just north of Zzyzx Rd. You can even see the road in the second photo. We were not looking for shrines but lizards. Sadly it was overcast and very few lizards were out. Though that beats 2010 when it was raining on our last day and we had to call off the Zzyzx portion of Mojave loop.



That is one of the many eponymous Soda Lakes of California. How many are there, does anyone know? Gotta be a handful.




Maybe this Summer I will try and make this a proper panorama shot.

Notice the AWESOME donuts in the dry lake bed.  I hope the guy that did that impressed the girl.

And I hope she gave him herpes.


If you can't tell why this shot is the best of the series then you need to change your priorities.

UPDATE: This is the last of the posts form our 2011 trip

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Battle for Las Gallinas

Las Gallinas used to be the type of creek where you could raise a family in peace.

photo by Joan Robbins

There was always plenty of food to go around for everyone.

photo by Joan Robbins

And it was safe for kids to play out on the branches until the sun came down.

Then a new crew came around. When you're off hunting, these yo-yos take over your place and are hooting about squatter's rights.

But at heart they're decent folk too -- just trying to raise a family!

Of course once someone starts to gripe, word spreads quick and folk get murder-crazy.

Photo by Joan Robbins

And when the kiddos want to stand up and stretch their wings...


The UN comes in, the fighting begins to quell and things return to normal.


A year passes and calm remains -- perhaps even harmony?
The Bubos are back at their squat, while the Buteos have built up a modest home. Even the crows tend to their own business. However...

Keeping the watch
"Where the offense is, let the great axe fall"

The Buteos struck back this morning, knocking three owlets to the ground. Wildcare is on the case again, with plans to return the owlets to the nest tonight.
Stay tuned for more from the front lines. 

away from their nest, an owl parent looks on

All photos by Christian Naventi unless otherwise noted

Big Ups to

Viva La Revolucion

I went from looking like this:

To this:

My pup does not trust me any longer without the beard.

Hopefully she figures it out in a little bit of time.

At least it won't be so hot in the desert.

Please be kind reviewer #3, even though I know you won't be.