About Me

My photo
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.

Friday, December 31, 2021

The Deer and Puma

At the moment five deer are pawing snow looking for acorns next to the house. Not far from the bird feeders. I can watch them from the kitchen window. They also enjoy browsing the herb garden, but that's under a snow drift.

Of course, there are no pumas in sight, but I know they're around too, as you'll soon see. 

Occasionally female pumas make forays into our community on "the ridge" in search of Mr Right. The caterwauling of a lovesick lady puma is a wonderful sound, but it rouses the dogs to bark up a storm, and it makes the neighbors a little testy. 

My advice to my neighbors is step out the back door and enjoy the dogs sounding off in sequence as Ms Lonely Heart moves away. Rest assured that an estrous pussy cat isn't interested in eating.      


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Within a junk pile

What goes on in a junk pile of old fence posts, broken gates, wire, and corrugated tin roofing overgrown with willows? We got a glimpse when we set a camera inside.


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Bears at Play

Herewith,  the best play sequences I got of bears in 2021. 

To view the 4 minute video copy the following link to your browser:


Or click below for the YouTube version.

Happy T'Giving.


Friday, January 1, 2021

A very clean bear

I didn't want to post this. The camera was askew. 

I changed my mind. Happy New Year.

Copy and paste the link to your browser to view the movie (It lasts a minute and 45 sec).


Friday, November 27, 2020

Bear spray with a happy ending

Screen shot of Napoleon 
with my bear spray

What creepy thought comes to mind when you find a tooth-punctured canister of bear spray deep in the woods? Yes, some poor sod made his last stand against Bruin and lost. In this case the poor sod was me, but my can of bear spray made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Last June I absent-mindedly left my bear spray behind when I set a trail camera beside a seasonal creek. A bear visited 2 hours after we left, and during the next 3 months the camera video-captured bears on 50 occasions. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have video proving that Bruin got the big surprise while munching the canister. My lost bear spray was not in the camera’s field of view, at least not initially. But after it presumably exploded in the jaws of a bear -- it became a bear toy. I have video sound tracks to prove it. You can hear bears rolling it on the rocks and crackling the metal in their jowls. 

The canister mysteriously appeared at the edge of a video clip on day 53, and remained in view of subsequent clips until a yearling cub retrieved it from the water 11 days later. This bear -- I call him Napoleon -- seemed to make a statement. He walked up to the camera and dropped the can there. 

It didn't stay there. I found it several yards downstream in the dry creek bed, and how it got there I'll never know. It didn’t smell like pepper spray, but its remaining chemical taint gave me a coughing fit. The crumpled bear spray canister now resides in the clutter of my garage and workshop – a souvenir of another adventure with a happy ending.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Tree-climbing camera inspector

For three years I've photo-captured bears climbing this rubbing tree. It 's about 14 inches in diameter and leans a bit. Cubs zip up and down the trunk, even on the underside, and adults occasionally tackle it too. It was a tree made for an arboreal camera trap, and promised a head-on view of a bear shimmying closer to the camera.       

After hauling my aluminum extension ladder to the site in two pieces, I bolted two cameras on a 1" pipe lag-screwed to the tree with a threaded flange. With neighbor Ted passing the tools to and fro the installation wasn't life threatening.  Here's a bear's eye view as seen from near the base.  The cameras (a Browning and a GoPro) are 11.5' from the base and a vertical drop of 12'.

I used to fit arboreal cameras with bungee cords. If an overly curious bear ripped a camera loose, the bungee would prevent a crash landing. Mischievous bears might play with a dangling camera, and could bite through the bungee cord, but a bungee could save the camera.  Nowadays I  believe most bears are loath to lose their grip while batting at a camera.   

Bears visited the site 18 times, but only three looked up at the camera, and only the camera inspector climbed the tree. 

To see the video copy this link https://vimeo.com/463652759 and paste it in your finder.   

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Travels with Gray Fox, Part 2.

Here's Part 2 of the gray fox footage. I hope it gives you some chuckles.