Monday, July 4, 2011

Who Skirts the Whistlepig Burrow?

There's nothing like a good river corridor if you want to get pictures on a camera trap.

Especially if that river corridor experiences reduced human disturbance.

I've posted pictures from this camera set before.  Originally, I was hoping to identify a mystery animal (which I determined was a mink; Neovison vison), and then the goal became to monitor Whistlepig (Marmota monax) activity near their burrow entrance, and I've also reported a nice Coyote picture (Canis latrans).

However, lots of critters skirt the Whistlepig burrow while following the river corridor.

Here are a few more shots from this location, and a summary of everything that passed by.

The Opossum (Didelphis virginiana): Early on in the spring, a 'possum passed the camera just this once.  The picture below was before I repositioned the camera. 

On the day I deployed this I walked along the river perusing potential camera set locations, I remember having a strange feeling of being watched.  I glanced to my right, and sitting not far away was a 'possum, watching me pass by.  I stopped and looked at him for a second, which prompted him to slowly turn and amble back into the woods. 

I wonder if this picture is of that same 'possum?

Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus): A Gray Fox has only wandered by once.  It was about this time that I also had one pass near my Otter Latrine set, which isn't too far away. 

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus):  

One of the reasons commercial cameras with white-flash have been slowly taken over by infra-red flash cameras is because it's been promoted that perhaps the white-flash deter deer.  I find this incredibly difficult to believe in alot of situations.  Canines and cats, I'll perhaps buy (although see the recent post over at Camera Trapping Campus).....but even they're smart enough to acclimate to flash.  Regardless, I still don't buy that the white flash really deters many deer.   I suppose that big trophy buck might be wary and not come around as often with a white-flash camera (and this is what many camera owners are most interested in photographing), but I'll bet deer in general couldn't care less.  I have no hard data to back this up.....just some anecdotal observations like the one below. 

The individual in the lower two pictures lays down in front of this camera, and takes that bright flash directly in the face repeatedly for an entire HOUR AND A HALF!  This resulted in 57 pictures of this one deer, and on the Cuddeback (which doesn't take multiple pictures per wildlife pass) this is alot of pics of one individual.

This is just one of at least five similar incidents.  Although during the other such incidents a deer catches the flash right in the face and continues to graze right in front of the camera...they don't hang around as long as this individual (and don't lay down in front of the camera).

Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus): Another common critter at this location. Almost all of the pics from this spot are like the one below (i.e., of a rabbit in mid-leap).  The Cuddeback does have a lightening fast trigger time!

Coyote (Canis latrans): the "talking dog" has floated past more than once (three times, in fact).  I would think the flash would deter them.  It's possible these are all different individuals.  If the same individual...they may have acclimated to the flash, which I've seen them do with Infra Red flash cameras (See Coyote Cams, posted on Feb. 19th, 2011). 

Beaver (Castor canadensis): A Flat-tail ambled by only this once.

Racoons (Procyon lotor): By far the most commonly captured critter by this camera trap.  Since February 8, 2011, I've had Racoons pass by over 160 times!  See summary below.

Whistlepig (Marmota monax):  Of course the whistlers are still about!  Check out the claws on the individual in the second picture.  No wonder they are such great diggers! 

Summary of results:

Camera deployed on February 8, 2011 and retrieved on June 27, 2011.

I summarized the number of animal "passes" to-date.  To apply some sort of general criteria to what was considered an individual "pass", if two pictures of the same species appeared on the camera close together in time, I considered them separate "passes" if they were at least two minutes apart.  Within two minutes, it's feasible that the same individual just turned around and came back...but this time criteria is arbitrary.  Obviously, I can't identify individual animals that well, so I may be counting the same individual more than once (as I'm sure I am with the Whistlepigs).  If there were unique marks to identify individuals back-to-back within within 2 minutes of eachother, I only counted it as one "pass".

I wish I wasn't such a dunce and could figure out how to imbed a graph from Excel on my blog, as I think that would be more informative than what I have below.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure it out (without having to get some additional piece of software), so you'll just have to view the results as is.

What I find most interesting is the shift in the number of Racoon, Rabbit and Whistlepig passes as the months advance.

February Totals: A fairly low number of captures, overall.  But, this was the only month of the "mystery animal".  The number of Racoon passes is also respectable.
  • Coyote= 1
  • Beaver= 0
  • Deer = 13
  • Gray Fox= 0
  • Mystery Animal/Mink= 6
  • Opossum = 1
  • Rabbit (eastern cottontail)= 5
  • Racoon= 40
  • Squirrel (eastern gray squirrel)=2
  • Whistlepig = 0
March Totals:  March is the Month of the Racoon and the Rabbit!  Also, the Whistlepig starts to show (but not until late in the month).
  • Coyote= 0
  • Beaver= 1
  • Deer = 14
  • Gray Fox= 1
  • Mystery Animal/Mink= 0
  • Opossum = 0
  • Rabbit (eastern cottontail)= 46
  • Racoon= 94
  • Squirrel (eastern gray squirrel)=3
  • Whistlepig = 14
April Totals:  A month of low activity.  Look at how far the Racoon total has dropped!
  • Coyote= 2
  • Beaver= 0
  • Deer = 2
  • Gray Fox= 0
  • Mystery Animal/Mink= 0
  • Opossum = 0
  • Rabbit (eastern cottontail)= 10
  • Racoon= 13
  • Squirrel (eastern gray squirrel)= 0
  • Whistlepig = 3
May Totals:  May is the Month of the Whistlepig...and the Rabbit is all but a memory.
  • Coyote= 0
  • Beaver= 0
  • Deer = 3
  • Gray Fox= 0
  • Mystery Animal/Mink= 1
  • Opossum = 0
  • Rabbit (eastern cottontail)= 3
  • Racoon= 29
  • Squirrel (eastern gray squirrel)= 3
  • Whistlepig = 48
June Totals:  The Raccoon is now the most abundant again, and the number of Whistlepig passes has decreased substantially.
  • Coyote= 0
  • Beaver= 0
  • Deer = 8
  • Gray Fox= 0
  • Mystery Animal/Mink= 1
  • Opossum = 0
  • Rabbit (eastern cottontail)= 6
  • Racoon= 18
  • Squirrel (eastern gray squirrel)= 0
  • Whistlepig = 10
Overall Totals for this location:
  • Coyote= 3
  • Beaver= 1
  • Deer = 40
  • Gray Fox= 1
  • Mystery Animal/Mink= 8
  • Opossum = 1
  • Rabbit (eastern cottontail)= 76
  • Racoon= 194
  • Squirrel (eastern gray squirrel)= 8
  • Whistlepig = 75

The camera was pulled from this location on June 27, 2011.

It was a fun spot.


  1. 1) Take a screen grab of the excel graph. (Shift + Apple + 4 if you are using a Mac) This will save as a .png on a Mac
    2) cut and paste the graph into a powerpoint slide. You can then export the slide as a .pdf or .jpg or .png

    Then just embed like you would one of your images.

  2. Thanks!!!

    I have a PC, but I'll give it a try!!