About Me

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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.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008 annual report

A few words to wrap up camera trapping in '08.

First, I expanded my home range, which means I made 75 camera trap sets in three states.

Most were in California (Butte, Napa, Yuba, San Mateo, and San Luis Obispo Counties), several were in New Mexico (Mora County), and one was in Virginia (Arlington County).

The yield was 2488 animal photos. The majority (2371 photos) were of  32 species of mammals. (I am not certain about my identifications of mice and shrews, so the species estimate is conservative.)

These statistics have nothing to do with relative abundance, and if anything, have more to do with the habitats I have chosen to set the cameras.

I added several new mammals to my species list: desert cottontail, white-throated wood rat, Douglas squirrel, Allen chipmunk, northern flying squirrel, Heermann's kangaroo rat, beaver, American marten, elk and feral pigs.

Bigfoot continues to elude and play tricks on me, like running in front of the camera and giving me blank images. I am convinced they have a sense of humor, but one of these days I am going to trick their butts.  

Two observations got me jumping: gray foxes carrying recently caught wood rats at Rich and my cams in Napa County, and black bears dragging nesting material into their den at the Wind River Ranch.

The 21 species of birds were incidentals. I wasn't looking for them.

It's hard to get good pictures of small birds with these cameras, and I just haven't spent enough looking for raptor roosts. 

Nonetheless, little birds just show up, and their variety makes camera trapping more interesting.

The bird thrills were the pileated woodpecker, blue grouse, and the bathing Cooper's hawk and screech owl.

My new MO was camera trapping with fellow codgers. This was the upshot of a little workshop with some old college buddies I did here a year ago.

As a result, Reno Taini reintroduced me to the wilds of the coast range in San Mateo county, while Rich Tenaza opened the gates to the Cleary Reserve in Napa County.  

Brian Miller led me to the bears den at the Wind River Ranch in New Mexico. I can't say enough to thank Brian and Carina for their hospitality to Dave Rentz and me last September.   

In June we visited Greg McMillan on his splendid ranch in San Luis Obispo County. Greg  treated us just like family. Not only did he cart us to the springs on his property to set cams, but he secured permission to camera trap on his neighbor's spread.  When we couldn't align our schedules he collected the cams and mailed them to me. I photographed more species there than any other locations. Thanks, Greg.

I also want to thank Etienne BensonMickie Enkoji, and Douglas Fox for three popular articles on my camera trapping activities. The articles generated food for thought about ethics and interpretation of animal behavior. 

Plus the publicity boosted blog readership. I'm self motivated when it comes to camera trapping, but I can't deny that its nice to hear from folks too.   

Thanks for your interest.

Several whacky new projects are cooking, so stay tuned. One of these days you will see the Sonoma Tree Mouse disporting itself on its arboreal midden of food scraps or a tree climbing mountain beaver pruning alder twigs in the high Sierra.


Tamatha said...

Just discovered your blog- had never heard the term camera trapping- I'm intrigued. My husband uses the cameras for scouting, hunting purposes, but your usage is superb. Love your blog.

Jayla said...

One correction-it's Fairfax County, not Arlington County.

Anonymous said...

i'm just so tickled reading the summary data. WONDERFUL AND FASCINATING What immediately came to mind was you as the modern day Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz (I LOVE THAT LAST NAME OF HIS) of Transylvania University 1819 who i recall in a history of science lecture was known to chase a bat with a violin; the specimen being more important than the net.
happy new year and many more fascinating photos.
one day i must set one up in my front and back yard where so much wildlife seems to pass.


Beverly said...

Happy New Year to you and your's, Chris! Thank you for your wonderfully entertaining (I darn near spewed my coffee when I read about the illusive yeti) AND joyously educational blog.

Looking at your data and realizing the damage they do, can anyone deny feral animals throw everything out of whack? Pigs is pigs...at least they taste good!

I have the feeling you have a lot of fun; ain't that grand!


Camera Trap Codger said...

Lord Fairfax, how could I forget? Thanks y'all.

randomtruth said...

Cool wrap-up Codger. Inspiring results. After year 1 with the camera I've captured 31 Sierra species - 16 furred and 15 feathered. Not 1/2 bad. Time to get a 2nd trap. :)

Glad to hear that you're trapping in San Mateo County (where I live). A pair of cougars were recently seen entering Edgewood Park, which is quite near me. Glad for it too - they really cut down the trail traffic!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your posts, always checking to catch up on the latest.

Happy New Year!


cliff said...

Oh for education, if I could have only gotten out of the first grade, but I fell in love with the teacher,

Great info and wish you the best in the new year, may you be blessed with the timber fallers.


Anonymous said...

Hey CTC,

Your work is great. My friends and I pop in often to read your cool blogs and check out your images. Your species list is impressive, no doubt.

Speaking of bigfoot, there actually is a good group of professionals and biologists in Texas and Oklahoma who really ARE trying get photos, using many of the same methods that you use. http://www.texasbigfoot.org/index.php/our-research/projects/47-projects/115-operation-forest-vigil.

I think their species count is around 20 since they've been using the camera traps (April 2006).

Again, thanks for the great blog and images. Keep it up; your fan base is growing.

Camera Trap Mysterio

Camera Trap Codger said...

Thanks for the link, Mysterio. Dedicated guys, and lovely swamps. Loved the bear back-rubbing interlude.