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, May 8, 2018

24 hours in Pt. Reyes

I met up with Ken to head up to Pt. Reyes to meet up with some UC Berkeley folks for 1 day of adventure in and around Pt. Reyes National Seashore. We planned to do a little small mammal camera trapping, birding, herping, and mammaling(?).

Since this is supposed to be a camera trapping blog I will start with a few pictures from an old barn where the targets were mice and small carnivores. In one night the only guy to show up was a Peromyscus maniculatus, Deer mouse. Handsome fellow. The scat on a board we found didn't seem to entice anyone.

On the mammal front, on a lead from Christian (a different one) we staked out a structure within Pt. Reyes at sunset trying to grab a few pictures of a gray fox in the after sunset fading light. Considering the photography conditions I'll take this photo 8.5 times out of 10.


The benefit of hiking with a herper is that we are looking down a lot. It means we can miss a lot of birds because they tend to be up, but in this case it allowed us to find this little owl. I first noticed the large amount of whitewash on the trail, which made me look up into the darkness of a tree overhanging the trail and see a little ball of puff 10-12 feet off of the ground. Again the photography conditions were brutal (This was the catalyst that pushed me over the edge to buying a monopod currently in route).


A Northern Saw-whet owl. If I am being honest with you, we mis-ID'ed this one in the field though. We thought it was a Pygmy Owl until looking at the photos at home (and adjusting the exposure a bit). It just seemed so small IRL. Does it still count after being misidentified in the field? We'll have to ask the birding rules committee. Either species would have been a (non-heard-only) lifer so real-time excitement was not diminished.




Zoom in on that mess.


Don't forget to look down sometimes and then back up when you see a whitewash.

On CTC's secondary brand - the herping - it was amazing. We found ~25 snakes and I had two of the best cover boards of my life. But before those we saw a couple of Thamnophis elegans garter snakes on a short hike including one sad DOR youngster. I still don't have a macro lens for my newish camera so herp photos are limited and taken on my phone.

The first snake under a board was a 2-3' Pacific Gophersnake - Pituophis catenifer catenifer that I didn't manage to take a picture of because seconds after I lifted that board, screams from another board being lifted gave a hint to at least 8-10 Pacific Ring-necked Snakes, Diadophis punctatus amabilis. Here I hold 3 of them in my hand at once. Most were in shed, which seemed slightly curious.

Under the next board was a smorgasbord of snakes. I think we got 2 of 3 species of garter snakes but in the chaos and fleeting looks as snakes darted in every directions I can't be 100% sure.

(1) Aquatic Gartersnake -Thamnophis atratus likely integrades in Marin County.

(2) Coast Gartersnake - Thamnophis elegans terrestris. There may have been some integrades with Mountain Gartersnake - Thamnophis elegans elegans because some of the individuals we saw had a lot of blue and almost no red at all to them, but I am not really sure if that is the best field mark for determining subspecies, certainly not better than location that suggest T. e. terrestris.

(3) California Red-sided Gartersnake - Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis. I believe this is the one we dipped on, but it might have been in there as there were some snakes with a lot of blue like I said above (but not a lot of red).

Garter snake IDs were incomplete because under that same board there were better snakes to grab including several Western Yellow-bellied Racer, Coluber constrictor mormon.

But the real winner and Snake O' the Day was a male Northern Rubber Boa - Charina bottae. What a treat!

Other mammals seen were loads of Tule Elk, distant coyote, a bobcat, and several raccoons.


At Bolinas Lagoon we didn't spot any otters but the Harbor seals were making noise and a Clark's Grebe was looking regal.



All in all a fantastic 24 hours in Pt. Reyes.


1 comment:

  1. Neewer photography eqipments helps you to get that perfect click.