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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, December 27, 2013

Wintering Say's Pheobe

I've have been waiting for the Say's Phoebe that over wintered on the UCSC campus the last two years to show up and was starting to think it might have met its maker. Finally on Christmas Eve, as I was leaving the lab I saw a Say's Phoebe in the usual spot. I don't know that this is the same individual for sure, but I like to think it might be.

As you can see from one of the photos it likes to perch and hunt from a fence right next to the road so I get to do some road birding on my way into and out of campus every day.

In 2012-2013 I saw a Say's Phoebe in this spot as early as November and then saw it pretty regularly (several times a week with a 40 second search as I drive by, so pretty reliably) until February.

In the 2011-2012 Winter I saw one in January through February 2012.

We'll have to wait and see who leaves the UCSC campus first this Winter, me or the old Say's Phoebe.






On a totally separate note, it has been a while since I have posted at the Flickr rework has made it really difficult to embed photos using hmtl into a post. Looks to be the new frames feature. I'm also not super happy with the apparent loss of the old organization tab in Flickr. I'll need to spend some time with the new lay out to try and figure it all out and hopefully I will grow to like the changes, but as of now, get off my lawn Yahoo.

UPDATE: After posting this I started reading some Flickr forums and realized that the new Beta photo page is fucked if you want old school html embedding. So I opted out of Beta until they get it fixed and reembedded the images in this post. I also found the old batch organizing tool which is now called Organizr and is in a submenu rather than the header. Damn Flickr.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bobcats in the Mist

Its that time of year in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Our summer (takes place on the calendar in what most consider early fall) is officially over and our good friend, the fog, rolls back in. That means you get a lot of condensation on your camera trap lenses, especially at night.

Its something to think about when making your sets, but I've never found a great solution. Rain-X helps some, but not as much as one would like.

You can at least point your camera away from the great Pacific, but then you have to worry about the rising sun coming up in the East.

Mainly you just learn to live with less than perfect images, like these two of a bobcat who came by the Ghost Deer cam during a single visit.



This Bob has a pretty well endowed tail. We may come back to that at a later date.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ghost Deer

A spooky deer from the Santa Cruz Mountains for your Halloween pleasure.






Ghost deer was trying to haunt the coyotes by leaving a leg in the tree, but he only managed to scare this poor little doe. Either that or the leg did such a good job that no carnivores even came by this set.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Missing Weasel


UCSC press release below.


Look out for a stuffed weasel.

October 9, 2013

To:  UC Santa Cruz Community
From:  UC Santa Cruz Police Department
Re:  Community Crime Bulletin  (488 PC - Theft; Case # 13-759)

On Tuesday,  September 24, at 6:15 p.m., a stuffed weasel specimen was stolen from a table at the UC Santa Cruz Fall Festival. Affectionately referred to as Winston the Weasel (see photograph), this specimen had been in the possession of the UC Santa Cruz Natural History Museum for many years and been a part of many student projects, displays, and events.

It is the only mounted weasel specimen that the museum possesses.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Winston is encouraged to contact the UC Santa Cruz Police Department immediately at 831-459-2231, or the Environmental Studies Department located in the Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, room 410.

Tips may also be made ANONYMOUSLY to the UC Santa Cruz Police Department by calling 831–459–3TIP (459–3847) or online at http://police.ucsc.edu.

Thank you.

Nader Oweis, Chief of Police
University of California, Santa Cruz

This Bulletin is in Compliance with 20 U.S.C. Section 1092 (f), the “Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act” (“Clery Act”), and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).


UPDATE: 10/12/2013

October 10, 2013

To:  UC Santa Cruz Community
From:  UC Santa Cruz Police Department 
Re:  Community Crime Bulletin  UPDATE  (488 PC - Theft; Case # 13-759)
The UC Santa Cruz Police Department wishes to thank the community for their assistance in the safe recovery of Winston theweasel.  It was anonymously returned this morning to the Police Department, and will be given back to the Environmental Studies Department.  No charges will be filed in this case.

Anyone with information regarding suspicious activity or crime in progress is encouraged to contact the UC Santa Cruz Police Department immediately at 831-459-2231, ext. 1, or by dialing 911 for in-progress emergencies or activities.

Tips may also be made ANONYMOUSLY to the UC Santa Cruz Police Department by calling 831–459–3TIP (459–3847) or online at http://police.ucsc.edu.

Thank you again,

Nader Oweis, Chief of Police
University of California, Santa Cruz

This Bulletin is in Compliance with 20 U.S.C. Section 1092 (f), the “Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act” (“Clery Act”), and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine


Congrats to Randy Schekman,Thomas Südhof, and James Rothman for their prize in physiology or medicine for their work on vesicle transport.

Nice win, for my buddy, the budding yeast too.

A Schekman midterm destroyed me when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley. I feel just a little bit better about that now today.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Toss me some beads

Its a veritable Mardi Gras on the California coast, including here in Santa Cruz.

There are Boobies everywhere.

A full on invasion.

Well, maybe not everywhere, but certainly more than usual, which is almost never. So far they have all been juvenile Blue-footed Boobies. It took me two days and about five hours, but I finally got a quick glance at one this afternoon. My eyes were practically bleeding after looking at thousands of pelicans, cormorants, gulls, shearwaters, and terns trying to turn one of them into a Booby.

No Booby pics, but the marine mammals were also out in good force. Yesterday had a half a dozen or more humpback whales including a mother in calf near shore. I also saw a couple of sea otters. Today had only 1-2 humpbacks but over a dozen sea otters.

A few poor images of the marine mammals below.

No go out to the coast and look for boobies.










Here is a link to some actual good Booby images from Santa Cruz. Link goes to a single photo, but poke around Alex's library for a few more.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What does the fox say?

This video went viral a few days ago ... swear this must be Christian's long-lost Skandi spirit animal-mate

Enjoy and sorry for the ad

Friday, September 6, 2013

WMR Pt. 2: Friday Coyote Blogging

Here we are close to the previous set, on the edge of a ravine.

I had a devil of a time getting the proper angle -- and as the results show, it was not truly achieved.

The only captured visitor was The Trickster...

Monday, September 2, 2013

West Marin Rambles Pt. 1

Over the summer I placed several cameras in the hills around San Geronimo. Some desired locations were denied due to tremendous poison oak growth, but interesting results were still attained.

Today's set places us inside a patch of chaparral scrub alongside a trio of urine stained boulders.

The first cam placed was a Bushie set to video. Its arrangement, indecisive -- between a rodent-focused set and medium-sized mammal chill-on-a-rock set.

wood rat

sonoma chipmunk

psychedelic morning chipmunk

really enjoy watching these chipmunks leap

gray fox, of course

The Bushnell was then swapped out for a quick overnight set with a homebrew in order to try to get a few nicer color shots.

dusky-footed wood rat

kinda dig the angle of this raccoon

Monday, August 26, 2013

Woodpeckers doing woodpecker things

I set this first camera on a snag in the Fir forest as a pre-class set for Codger's camera trapping course v.2013. I was really hoping to get an awesome flying squirrel coming to the snag to do awesome flying squirrel things. Instead I got a woodpecker doing some woodpecker things. You know, hopping around, pecking wood, and flying. This looks like a male Black-backed Woodpecker, Picoides arcticus. Notice the yellow patch on the forehead/crown. But remember, we suck at birding, so I could be completely wrong here.

Next are some videos of White-headed woodpeckers, Picoides albolarvatus, that were coming in and out of a snag at the top of Yuba Gap on Hwy-49. We had this camera up for just a couple of hours, as it was in a highly trafficked area.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dog Days of Summer

As CTC's fav club, the Athletics, face some struggles as of late, a check-in elsewhere in Oakland proves that these are indeed the Dog Days.

These videos are from Knowland Park and located in the area designated for the zoo's controversial proposed expansion. More on that at a later date.

annnd let's end on a stinker.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More Twee than Thou

Speaking of Hipsters, I was in Uptown the other day meeting up with some old buddies. Went by the Oaklandish storefront, who happen to make some of my favorite T's, and ran across some stickers/pins/magnets by Birdvs.Bird. Hot damn these things are ridiculous. I had to buy a 12-pack of stickers and a pin. They also have some sets that are particular to birds of Lake Merritt. Hell yes, Black-crowned Night Heron.

Which brings us to another topic Christian and I have spent the past few months discussing. What I like to call Twee critter art. Here are two more of our favorites.

Zoo Portraits by Yago Partal.

And some similar stuff, but all hand drawn, by Berkely Illustrations.

If any of the artists see this post, feel free to send us some free stuff/sponsor our camera trapping adventures. We'll gladly talk up your art.

Follow the links and let us know what your favorites are.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Alert the Hipsters


There is a wild marmot in the San Francisco neighborhood of Bernal Heights. The yuppies must be very confused. Probably hitched a ride back to town with some 30-somethings after their rock climbing adventure. Because apparently everyone is a rock climber these days.

Below is not the SF Marmot (Does it have a clever name yet, a la Sutro Sam? Has it gotten gay married yet? I hope so on both accounts), but a Marmot from when we went up to the Codger's pre-class set-up in the Sierras.

Thanks to Randomtruth for doing some excellent captaining of the car as I shot photos out of the open window.






I used to see Marmots all the time in Yosemite Valley as a kid. We made an annual Spring Break trip to Curry Village with old family friends. It was always a great time and this old Marmot brought back some great memories.  Now we need to get him on camera trap.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Camera Trapping Hawks

For the past three or four years that the Red-shouldered hawks have been nesting alongside my school, I have wanted to capture them on camera trap. Questions were always present in regards to feasibility (climbing eucalyptus trees) and most importantly, disturbance of the animals. Because of these obstacles, there have not been any realistic attempts to set cameras.

This June, that finally changed. Ever since the kiddos left the nest, they have been chilling in a hillside grove of eucalyptus and oak trees on the other side of our school.

It was a windy morning when one of our PE teachers noticed a couple of them hanging out on the ground and quickly alerted myself and chum Ryan (a should be blog contributor).

Upon investigating the area, he discovered the hawk had been snacking on a snake, which appears to be a CA King.

A camera was deployed and the hawk "performed" beautifully.

showing its mug

Friday, June 21, 2013

Feathered Friday

red-shouldered hawk

A new feature as we have run dry of coyote images. !

I was stoked this spring to see the return of the Red-shouldered Hawks to their nest by my school.

Their adventures have been chronicled here over the years, with last year's duel with the owls a truly fascinating experience. It unfortunately resulted in disaster for both birds. The hawks did not nest successfully and I learned through Wildcare that the owlets that fledged did not survive very long.

Three young hawks fledged this week and have been gliding and screeching over the hill above campus, thrilling students and staff alike.

More to come from this crew next Friday...


Monday, June 17, 2013

More of the Redwoods: 'Possum style

More from the winter season in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Such a California setting, right?

This time our culprit is not a critter we should find in California. The Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana, was introduced to California in the late 19th Century. It was first introduced to Los Angeles in 1890 and then near San Jose in 1910. Opossums were brought to California as a cheap fur-bearing mammal, but also as a food item. The California opossums may have originally hailed from South Carolina, rather than Virginia.

Sexy Opossum or Sexiest Opossum?

Almost cuddly

Why go around a log when you can just lumber over it? And look at that nice tail!

With a purpose

Does anyone know if that pink ear pattern can be used to identify individuals? Unfortunately during the first visit we get a good look at its left ear and in the second visit its right ear, so comparison is a moot point on these images, but my guess is that it is the same guy or gal.

Opossum introduction information from: The Opossum: It's Amazing Story By William J. Krause and Winifred A. Krause, Dept. of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri; pages. 23-24 (.pdf link)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Be Above It

The bird's eye view has been a set angle used before by CTC with relative success and failure.

While exploring a section of the Mt. Tam Watershed, I found a nice location, but due to large width of tree trunks and with other possibilities being to obvious for hikers to mess with, the bird's eye seemed to be the best option.

Plus I like climbing trees.

cautious bobcat

gray fox, as always

would be thief

Thankfully, they could not further mess with the camera and it was still present and working when I arrived to collect the data.

Weeks later, while in Oakland's Knowland Park, the view must have stuck in my mind, for I had a chaparral cam up far higher than the usual on-the-ground action.

it's a... gray fox

brush rabbit munching on monkey-flower

brush rabbit in glorious color

The angle certainly can provide an interesting viewpoint and occasionally insights into behavior or identification for markings, but it can't be recommended for frequent use. Ideal situations for deployment is something I will be exploring in future sets.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Squirrel Heaven

OK, time for an actual camera trapping post. It's been a while. Hopefully a few of you still check in on the blog.

These are some images from a set way back in Fall of 2012 and January of 2013. Yeah ... its been a while. When I first went through these images I did not ID all of the squirrels correctly. I wasn't paying enough attention and let that be a lesson to all of you out there. You might have something more interesting than you think you do.

In these two sets I got three different species of squirrel. The native Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus, and two invaders from the other side of the Rockies, the Eastern Gray (Sciurus carolinensis) and Fox (Sciurus niger) squirrels. At first I dismissed the Westerns as Easterns because of the bit of brown on the shoulders. It fooled me and Randomtruth, pointed out the error in my ways.

Fox Squirrel posing

Fox Squirrel exploring

Western Gray Squirrel found a nut

Western Gray Squirrel hiding its nut

And now for something completely different ... more squirrels at an earlier set.

Western Gray

Eastern Gray with nut

Eastern Gray hiding its nut

Western Gray found the Eastern's nut? Nom Nom Nom

Maybe there is another one down there

About face

"Where the hell did my nut go? That damn local better not have stolen it!"

"Guess I'll just have to drink my sorrows away"

Glug, Glug, Glug

So thanks again to RT for point out that "There's more to your squirrels"

And two (Fox and Western) new species on camera trap for me, just by looking at my images with a better eye.