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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Flawed Photo Essay on the Toilet Habits of Br’er Fox

Here's the latest from the camera trap line--look at them in order.

Background: I've been tracking this rascal for several months, and decided the best way to get him on film was to play some mind games with him. I started to use scents--over-ripe beef and pork fat, and more recently the juice from smoked salmon--dabbing these condiments on the old pitch pine log a quarter mile from the house. His first trick, about a month ago, was to defecate (yes, crap) all over the bait. That night the camera battery failed.

He did a repeat performance last night, but again, Murphy's Law proved that if anything can go wrong, IT WILL! As you can see, it was raining, and after the camera took its first splendid picture, a tiny piece of wood in a raindrop splashed up and landed in the middle of the window that covers the camera lens! Even so, you can still tell what he is up to.

Blow-by-blow account (top to bottom)
1:11AM--Fox makes his first appearance. He is annointing his cheeks and neck with the smoked salmon scent I put there.
1:12AM--Fox leaves his calling card with amazing accuracy, hitting a spike I put in the log to hold the bait in place. Note that Murphy's law just kicked in, aaaargggh!
4:18AM--He is back to check out his personal creation.
4:18AM--His parting act is to sprinkle the site with some personal cologne.

The biological point is this: members of the dog family often leave a "calling card" near a site where they find food.

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