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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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Last camera trap, last hope for ringtail

The recess -- a predators lair with cattle bones.

Three of the four camera traps we had set at Chimineas had no sign of ringtail.

I've talked about two of the sets already, and I won't bore you with the deermice and woodrats that visited the third set -- a low hillside of weathered boulders.

Of more interest was the secret petroglyph, but like the ringtail, it couldn't be found. 

Our fading hope was the final location -- a v-shaped outcrop with a horizontal recess.  

It was near a dry wash at the convergence of several routes including a dirt road and something had dragged cattle and deer bones into the recess. 

Topographically it was one of those places that makes you want to climb around and explore. 

Two months ago we decided the recess was the place to set the camera. 

The problem had been anchoring the mounting post between the floor and ceiling.

I had jammed it here and there with a vague sense of self-loathing for failing to make an expandable post required by this situation. 

After wedging some rocks under the post I was satisfied it would hold as long as nothing bumped into it.

So here we were two months later.

We looked into the recess and . . .  "Noooo, tell me its not true" --  the camera was lying face down on the bedrock. 

That might not be a bad thing.

We opened the cam and looked at the pictures -- there were 138 of them taken over five days.

Not bad.

As you might have guessed ringtail was missing, but . . . .

there were several pictures of a ringtail imitator.

A wood rat had chimney-stemmed the crevice at the back of the recess. 

A male bobcat had also visited to explore the scents we had planted. 

He didn't show his face, but he made a departing gesture 11 seconds after this photo.

He sprayed urine on the left side of the wall. 

A fence lizard passed through, and one morning Lincoln's sparrow scratched about. 

Correct my id if I am wrong.   

One evening a kangaroo rat (probably Dipodomys heermanni) showed up. 

A nice surprise.

A wood rat in the background and a kangaroo rat up front. 

We weren't ready to quit this place, so we piled rocks around another camera (the one at the top of the page). 

Craig checked it last week.

There was plenty of animal sign, and maybe ringtail had been there. 

But I had set it for 24 hr pictures, a mistake.

Hot air movement triggered the camera continuously.

The card was filled with pictures of hot rocks.  


Seagull Steve said...

I would lean towards a juvenile Song Sparrow rather than a Lincoln's....the bill is somewhat heavy, the tail is relatively long and there arent any blue-gray tones in the face characteristic of Lincoln's Sparrow. Definitely a tricky i.d. considering the angle.

Nice variety of wildlife though!

Camera Trap Codger said...

Thanks for the id, Steve.

dr_fiehlgood said...

The bird is a Rufous-crowned sparrow. If the lighting was better and bird was facing the camera, you would see the rufous crown and pale malar. Song and Lincoln's sparrows are good guesses but are more heavily streaked and found in dense thickets near water. This bird also has a conspicuous eye-ring which also suggests Rufous-crowned sparrow. The habitat is right. These birds are locally common in SLO county, occupying rocky hillsides and steep slopes.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Okay, I guess we are getting this sorted out. Craig also thinks the mouse is a Chaetodipus, based on recent hands-on experience with them. So I stand corrected.

Seagull Steve said...

Hmmm, Rufous-crowned crossed my mind...but they shouldnt show any streaking, nor should they have a strong auricular patch, as this bird does. Song Sparrows can show up in almost any habitat this time of year, but I guess we'll have to ask the bird what it thinks.