|The short-tailed weasel or ermine, Dec 19, 2013, 1840 h|
I just scratched the white winter weasel from my camera trapping bucket list.
At least the white short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea).
The white long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) remains to be camera-bagged.
White weasels of course are just brown weasels camouflaged in white winter coats.
You find them where you can rely on long snowy winters, which is north of the 40th parallel. On the mild west coast, the white-weasel-line jogs north into British Columbia.
I bagged my white weasel near Yuba Pass on a steep north slope, in a jumble of broken granite shaded by red fir.
Some time in the past a large mass of granite cleaved and released a large flake of stone that slid several feet and settled against its mother.
The result was a narrow slot, a shelter, the kind of place small boys and codgers in their second childhood love to explore.
I was ready to camtrap "the granite flake" two summers ago, but a yellow jacket nest changed my mind.
It was only the size of a grapefruit, but big enough to scare me off.
The nest was gone last fall, so I set the camera on October 8th using civetone and castoreum as elevated scent lures.
|View from north opening.|
|View from south.|
Bill and I checked it last Wednesday. The Lithium AA batteries lasted 94 days, and in addition to the white weasel -- here's what we got:
|Montane vole (Microtus montanus): 6 visits/8 photos|
|Bushy-tailed wood rat (Neotoma cinerea): 8 visits/13 photos. Last visit:Oct 18. Here it gathers lichen as nest material and/or food.|
|Brush mouse (Peromyscus boylii): 58 visits/146 photos. Many photos recorded one or more of these characters gathering papier mache from the wasp nest.|
|Trowbridge shrew (Sorex trowbridgii): 1 visit/1 photo (Nov 14)|
|Long-eared chipmunk (Tamias quadrimaculatus): 11 visits/14 photos (Last visit: Nov 21)|
|Chickaree (Tamiasciurus douglasii): 11 visits/14 photos|
You all know, of course, that we're in a bad bad drought.
There was little snow on route 49 until we reached 6000 ft. Normally it would be down to 4000 ft.
Below the current snow line those white winter weasels are an advertisement to predators, mainly carnivores and birds of prey.
Not to worry my friends, the furry and feathered agents of natural selection have already started to fix the problem.
[thanks to "Bill W, MJC" for the good company and watchful eyes]
King, C. 1990. The natural history of weasels and stoats. Cornell University Press, Ithaca
Hall, E.R. 1951. American weasels. University of Kansas Publications, Museum of Natural History 4:1-466.