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, 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.