Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sneaky Bob

Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are a somewhat tricky lot to camera trap around here. 

They aren't really found in the southern part of our fine state, which is where I spend most of my time.  Further north the ol' Bob-tailed Cat becomes more common, but still doesn't exist in very high densities (at least compared to other frequently cam-trapped critters). 

Much like many Felines, they are also very secretive and sneaky.  Slinking quietly through an area, leaving little evidence of their passing, unless one is lucky enough to find some tracks.

But we finally caught up with this Sneaky Bob!

Earlier in the Spring, the students on the wolf project had a few quick glimpses.

You have to watch this first video clip in its entirety....he/she doesn't show up until the very to the far right.

In this second video clip, which is several minutes after the one above, we basically get a second.  The 'cat is now on the far left and appears to be spraying a stump before moseying on.

In late July, however, we got a better clip of Sneaky Bob.

I haven't put alot of thought into it, but I do wonder why this species doesn't take to the more populated areas in the southern part of our state?  Especially considering that out west they have acclimated to urban edges in parts of California (e.g., Santa Monica), Colorado, Arizona, and Texas.

I suspect these urban 'cats have access to some pretty rugged habitat immediately adjacent to the edge of Santa Monica (for example), which makes crossing over into the urban sphere pretty easy.  At the same time, we have lots of rural and sparsely populated areas 'round here.  Lots of "green space" and public natural areas....seems like there would be plenty access to the more southern parts of the state. 

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that some of the states listed above have more arid environments.  Thus, the 'cats are drawn into the well-watered greenspaces/lawns (and associated rodents) in urban areas.  We aren't as dry here, but neither is Dallas/Fort Worth, and Bobcats apparently end up there.

Perhaps its only a matter of time?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Frenetic Mustelid

I've been cam-trapping this property for about two years.  Just when I think I've got a very complete inventory of the species on-site, I get a surprise!

As we poured through the video footage from our cameras on-site, we saw this (from July 29th).... You may have to "maximize" the clip to see the critter.  It's sort of in the lower right of the frame and you can see the eye-shine in the shrubs a few seconds later.

...and this....(same date, lower left-hand corner now).....

Looks "weaselly" to me.  This also wasn't far from where I found Poor Ol' Slim dead on the road earlier in the summer.  So...weasels are a real possibility on-site.

There are also gillions of Eastern Cottontail clips (Sylvilagus floridanus), including babies, from this exact camera set.  They often move in and out of the shrubs where the weasel went.  I was desperately hoping for an awesome predation event on camera, but was not to be.

These clips were pretty cool, but the weasel only makes a brief appearance in each of them.

So, I was incredibly thrilled to see this video clip from July 31st.  Different camera on the same site.

I'm going with a Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata) on the ID for this critter.  The tail appears to be at least 1/3 or greater of the total body length (you might have to maximize the clip size to see it).  The length of the tail suggests M. frenata.  If correct, this would be a different species than Ol' Slim, which I think was the Short-tailed Weasel M. erminea.

Weasels are always tough for me to get pics or vids of.  It's only happened once or twice before (see a previous post).  Having never seen any evidence of them on-site after about two years (no tracks in the snow nor other camera pics), I had given up on them for this property.

I guess....if nothing really shows the importance of being patient and acquiring a long-term dataset when cam-trapping!

Friday, August 2, 2013

"The Timber Wolves Will Be Our Friends...."

"The Timber Wolves will be our friends,
We'll stay up late and howl,
At the moon 'til nighttime ends,
Before going on the prowl."

-Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes)

The Wolf project has been going well this summer.  My students have seen some incredible stuff while out conducting the field work.  They've also picked up some great video clips.

Below is  recent example....

This is such a nice bit of video footage.  Not only does it give a perfect glimpse of the Wolf, it gives a clear look at how the tail is held.  Note how straight that tail is out behind the body....not drooping down at all, as one might expect from a Coyote. 

The little poem by Bill Watterson at the top is sort of silly, but still great.  It simply, yet eloquently encapsulates how one should feel about seeing a critter like a wolf.  As a wildlife biologist, few other species embody that visceral feeling of "wilderness" as do the Wolf and (for me) the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus).

Enjoy!  My students have worked hard all summer for clips like this!