Friday, July 27, 2007
A charismatic micro-vertebrate
It came a few minutes before midnight on July 9th, and paused next to the mountain beaver burrow when the camera powered up. There was a quiet whirring sound inside the camera trap about three feet away. It took the picture as the weasel peered at the camera's silhouette in the thicket. Hallelujah -- the camera didn't fail me.
My camera traps are a bit slow to catch weasels, which are mammals of perpetual motion, but this time I was lucky. For 3 seconds the weasel's attention was riveted by the sound that usually scares away the coyote.
I was thrilled. Seeing a weasel is always a treat. Their movement is lyrical. You are lucky if you catch a fleeting glimpse, but you are blessed if you can watch them for several minutes.
I've had my best weasel viewing experiences in northern California'a coastal scrub and near timber line in the Colorado Rockies. Pure serendipity.
Now, if you want a real treat, go here and download this video of a family of long-tails playing at the entrance of their burrow here at Point Reyes National Seashore, where I took this picture. (You will need Real Player to view it.)
Acknowledgments: Many thanks to the National Park Service, for permission to conduct a camera trap wildlife survey in Point Reyes National Seashore.