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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.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oven-lovin' drummin' rodent

We'd spent a long day in the field coming and going, setting camera traps, and coming and going.

One liability of codgerdom is forgetfulness. Retrieving forgotten or misplaced gear probably added an extra mile to our peregrinations, but it didn't matter. No one was in a hurry. Nonetheless, by late afternoon we were all dragging, and whether we needed it or not, it was time for a shower. It took an hour to sweep up the rat shit and chlorox the shower stalls.

Rich grilled the tri tip to perfection over "Cowboy Charcoal", a new product that deserves mention as a brilliant marketing ploy. We expected mummified cow flops, but the charcoal was just pieces of old barn boards and fence posts.

It was a splendid meal -- red meat, brie and cambazola, fresh asparagus, and a tossed green salad. Anti-cholesterol tonics included beer, red wine, tequila, and single malt Scotch.

We were thoroughly enjoying the repast and our own engaging conversation when we heard a sound like someone practicing drum rolls. It was coming from the oven.

I opened the door and there was an oven lovin' drummin' rodent.

It was our old friend the dusky-footed woodrat in a luxuriant nest of cotton stuffing plucked from the lodge's chairs and matresses. The second oven compartment contained a king-size nest.

We shut the doors and resumed our conversation, but the rodent continued to distract us with periodic drumming. Our intrusions and remarks about her boudoir were getting pretty silly when we realized we were missing a camera trapping opportunity.

Rod baited his set on the floor with a carrot, and I propped my camera inside the oven. Soon we saw the flash going off through the cracks, and decided to give her some rest.

We retired to our sleeping bags outside. If you are wondering why we didn't use the available beds, well, the rats had already claimed them.

The next morning we found that Rod's camera caught the drummer making off with the carrot.

My pictures showed her sitting demurely in her nest, but when I got home I managed to erase them by mistake.

Fortunately, Steve had the foresight to photograph the rat in the stove (above). Thanks, Steve. And thanks to Rich and Rod for the other photos.


Owlman said...

It appears that Cleary Reserve has not been visited in a while. It could probably use a caretaker to keep the place liveable. Sounds like a good project for some students or an old codger.

Mike and Joanna said...

That's incredible to see the pack rat using a mattress as a foundation for it's nest. Really wonderful what you've given us all a chance to see. Great blog.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Yeah, well, I get enough work assignments where I am.

Mike and Joanna,
obviously, they know comfort when they see it.