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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, February 14, 2012

A Room with a View

The snag -- a canyon live oak.

If hollow trees were sentient beings, they would cringe when they see me coming.

You see, the codger regularly administers an examination of hollow trees that resembles a colonoscopy.

Looking up from the bottom.
My point and shoot camera is the endoscope.

It's a harmless procedure for tree and examiner, though there's a remote risk that something inside might clamp down on your arm during the examination.

All you do is stick your handheld camera into the cavity, point it upward, press the shutter release, and check the resulting image on the LCD.

Most of the time the cavity is shallow and filled with rotten wood and spider webs.

The conjoined trunks of this oak however measured 12 feet around, and both were hollow and free of spider webs, indicating that furry mammals used it regularly.

Looking down from the top --  a distance of 11 feet.

One trunk had a capacious space that tapered upwards and extended into the limbs.

The cavity opened to the outside 11 feet up, where a limb had snapped off some years ago.

There was another "window" 5 feet above ground.

The cavity was a room with a view, but the most interesting view was from the outside looking in.

I could see inside from three openings, and decided the best view for the camera trap was looking down from the top.

A camera trap wedgie

I lodged the camera into the opening, and when I came back a week later found 353 photos of brush mice and dusky-footed wood rats.

Wood rat ascending the hollow trunk.

There were no surprises. It was a busy place, and I expected rodents, but I wanted to show them in a setting we don't normally see.

Brush mouse caught in the midst of a grooming session. This picture was taken at noon, long after bedtime.

The upper reaches of the cavity seemed to be a wood rat's feeding perch, but for the life of me I cannot identify the food.

Wood rat eating unidentified insect??? 

Mr Smiley of Bunyipco thinks it might be the instar or larval form of a cicada.

If so, the rat dug it up, because at this time of year all cicadas are immature and live in the soil.

Glimpsing natural history in a hollow log can raise unanswered questions, but that's good.

If images from a camera trap don't make you wonder you are missing one of the simple pleasures of the sport.


Alyssa Johnson said...

Interesting perspective...I've been interested in mounting my cameras 'nontraditionally' and seeing what I get!

john said...

Gotta love that Brush Mouse photo. I was thinking the insect was some kind of moth, but cicada makes more sense.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Yes, Mr Smiley says the eyes give it away as a cicada (possibly).

Buford Nature said...

I often slide on my backside on the ground into hollow tree boles to see 'what's up,' and not uncommonly observe rat snakes (Elaphe spp.) plastered to the ceiling. I hadn't thought of using my camera instead. Good idea.

owlman said...

You seem to have a habit of getting into caves,crevices and hollow trees.The payoff is obvious once again and each time we all learn something new.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Try it, mann, it is a lot of fun, and you may even want to save the images like I do.

Laura said...

Wonderful photos I just happened upon your sight and I love it. I will defiantly be visiting regularly.