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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, August 7, 2012

2012 Camera Trapping Workshop

2012 Camera trapping class:
Top row: Greg MacDonald, Hannah Stewart, Patti ten Boom Byrnes, Natalie Fenner, Timothy Fenner, Sam Dailey.
Bottom Row: Joshua Fenner, Bill Wilson, Gwen Dailey, Chris Wemmer, Doug Overman, Lance Milbrand, Caitlin Ott-Conn.  

Thunder showers and an electrical outage got us off to a slow start, but otherwise, the 4th camera trapping workshop at SF State University's Sierra Nevada Field Campus came off well.

Participants of past workshops helped the codger by setting their own cams in the Yuba country a month beforehand, and when the job was done we had a total of 15 in the field.

We were confident we'd have a few photos of Bruin. Large piles of bear scat seemed to litter one meadow where we set two cameras. 

But when we went to collect those cameras we found ourselves in the midst of a logging operation. The bears left us empty-handed.

The field campus provided ample opportunities for camera trapping, and back at camp, however, Patty ten Boom Byrnes captured video of a cub exploring a log. (Sorry I can't upload it.)

Doug Overman with his pre-Galileo
all purpose cam mount.   

Just down river from the tents Bill Wilson added a new species to our Sierra County mammal list -- an incomplete but unmistakable image of a river otter.

Bill Wilson's river otter visited a log jam below camp.

Not far away RandomTruth's cam snapped a bobcat.

Above camp Caitlin Ott-Conn got a photo of an upright showtl -- not a pose commonly caught on our cameras.

The class harvested the usual assemblage of cute rodent pictures.

We added the long-eared chipmunk to the species list -- and you can see here one of its distinguishing marks -- long almost unchipmunkly ears.

The Douglas squirrel or chickaree

Chickarees were the usual early morning and late afternoon camp visitors, but our subterranean video cam once again caught them doing mysterious things in mountain beaver burrows.
Golden mantled ground squirrel.

Golden mantled ground squirrels were already plumping up for hibernation. If the bitter cherries are any indication, there will be heavy mast crop this fall.

Jake's cam also got an image of a Wandering shrew (Sorex vagrans).  See if you can find it.

To celebrate the "strenuous life", we forded the Yuba's north fork and climbed Deadman Scree.  Everyone marveled (I hope) at this geological phenomenon and savored a habitat that cooks in the midday sun but hides an ice age climate in the underworld beneath the rubble.  

On the Deadman talus slope with Lance in video-documention mode.  

We had a couple of camera failures, but still managed to capture some portraits of bushy-tailed wood rats in various stages of development.

A heartfelt thank you to the "alumni" who helped me out on Tuesday night by making presentations about their own camera trapping discoveries.

Jake and Christian compared still pictures with video clips, their message being that if one relies entirely on still pictures one gets snapshots of a much bigger story. Video clips contain much more information. 

Random Truth presented his ideas about close-ups and serendipitous sets with gorgeous examples of woodrat activities in the coastal range and critters from the eastern Sierra.

A serendipitous mountain beaver set -- no "Aplodon,
but a handsome Western tanager (Sam Dailey's photo).

My subterranean cam yielded some chickaree and showtl footage, but a bear cub curtailed that set when it uprooted the cam and turned it on its back. (More about the challenges and risks of subterranean cam-trapping soon.)

I'll be heading back in another week or two -- as soon as I get some special mounts made for some odd sets.

Many thanks to the "alumni" from previous courses, Jake, Christian, Sean, and Random Truth, and to Bill Wilson for assisting with local logistics during the full week.

Last but not least, thanks to the class for enthusiasm and hard work.

One of a series of time lapse photos taken at lunch with a Canon A630. The camera was hacked with the Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK). We also demonstrated motion detection.


Alyssa Johnson said...

One day, CTC, I hope to make it out for your workshop and to join the fun! Great pics, as per usual.

JK said...

That IS a great Mt Beaver shot.

Glad we could be of some help. It is always fun to get up to the High Country and swap tall tales.

randomtruth said...

I am soooo jealous of that Aplodontia shot. As JK said, it's always our pleasure to help and join in the learning Chris.