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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.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Scree in Winter

Deadman Lake and its scree, on the north facing slope of Rt 49 (Google earth image)

You are looking at Deadman Lake at 6675 feet, and its ancient field of scree that spills downhill nearly 700 feet.

A camera set in deep boulder-scree
We set camera traps on Deadman's scree slope last November.

It's a strange place.

In summer you can slow-fry eggs on the sun-baked boulders, while cool drafts and the babble of moving water rise from the depths. 

In winter it's a wasteland of ice and snow,  

We've camera trapped Deadman in summer and fall, when little chief hares or pikas raise their squeaky alarm.

Scree isn't plant friendly, and you wouldn't expect many small mammals other than pika to live there.

But we've photographed wood rats, deer mice, chickarees, chipmunks, and golden-mantled ground squirrels far from the more vegetated edges.

The presence of those critters convinced me that talus must be a winter paradise for weasels.

It offers ever-present protection from the elements, thousands of recesses to escape from hungry raptors, and a steady supply of food.

Normally Deadman starts to look glacial in mid October, but winter was late last year.

We managed to get our act together in early November, and set our camera traps in shirt sleeves on a fine Indian summer day.

Six months later we were casting about and scratching our heads looking for our cameras.

I was the one who couldn't find his cameras, and even with the GPS telling me I was there I still had to peer into deep recesses to find two of them.

The camera batteries had died months earlier in most, but two of my cameras set a new record of 6 months -- they were still running on external D-cells.

We didn't have much to show for our patience, and we didn't get a single picture of a white weasel.

But a bobcat made several appearances at the first cam I set at the foot of the scree.

Full frame of scree visitor

The space was too small for a full body shot, but the cat showed us both working ends. 

Another revealing view.


Cindy said...

Is this a winter pouting bob face or a spring bob face?

Camera Trap Codger said...

That was an April pouty face, Cindy.

JK said...

At least it was a good adventure ...

I need to get my little mouse photos up now too.

Owlman said...

Nice closeup of both ends of a beautiful Bobcat Chris.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Sorry it took so long, Jake. Look forward to your pics. And it WAS a great adventure.