Monday, February 20, 2012

Camera Trap Study: Week #2 Results!

I set out this morning to head to our college's field station on the South end of Honeoye Lake. It was yet ANOTHER gorgeous Monday which allowed me to dawdle along the channel path while checking my cameras. By the way, this is another long one...but full of awesome pictures!

For those of you who may be reading this, here is some context for what I'm doing: Research Methods in Biology, Help Wanted, and Results Week #1.

Today was my third week 'in the field', my second week checking results, and the first 're-scenting' of my cameras.

Twas a lovely day in the Finger Lakes! Here I am overlooking the Honeoye Valley (Honey-OY!), carved by receding glaciers 10,000 years ago! The water you see is Honeoye Lake.

The channel looking North and then South, respectively.

I'll just jump into the results, as they are many and very interesting!

Camera A:

Opossum in the snow! Checking out the scent...?

Notice anything? Besides the opossum?

He/she took the scent pad and is chewing on it!!!

NAUGHTY! I was wondering who ripped the scent pad I know. And it was scented with Kaatz Bros. 'Toxi-Dog' Predator Call ($4.50/oz)

Red fox checking the scene out...

And a new species for this study, raccoon!

Camera B:

Eastern coyote

Camera C: Nothing. Scent: Blackie's Blend 'Num-Chuck' Lure

Camera D:

Red fox? I'm going to assume YES...unless someone can confirm another species?

Definitely a red fox!

This fox is totally hanging out. He/she looks very intent and focused, but on what?

So, Camera A is definitely the "hot camera" of the set so far. Only 3 weeks in, but I've gotten the most frequency and variety on this camera. It's not necessarily just the scent either, they're being rotated weekly!

Lastly, here are a few neat things I found along the trail!!

Fresh otter scat at the latrine site I've been kind of monitoring!

Here's the latrine, with the fresh scat indicated with an arrow. For more-ish information about this site, visit this blog entry I wrote several weeks ago: A Natural History Mystery!

 I bagged it, and it's going in the freezer at school if/when someone wants to do some rinsing of the scat (to see what the otters were eating), or some genetic work.

Next was this neat scat. And by neat I mean both interesting and its deposition was neat and tidy. I'm unsure of what to ID this as...although I'm leaning towards the Canada Goose.

This is definitely Canada Goose scat!

Another mystery? I think definitely Canid, and someone has been eating alot of bones or antlers. Very calcified scat! Sorry there's not much for scale. But I'd wager it's a crossover in diameter range of red fox and coyote.

Finally, the best moment of the morning! As I was leaving, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk dive from the sky and land hard in some reed canary grass. When it came up, it had something small, furry, and possibly rodent-y in it's talons! SO COOL! I slammed into park, and jumped out of my car to follow it. It landed in a tree near me, and I watched as it ate the critter. These pictures are the best I could do- used my phone.

GORGEOUS bird. Absolutely stunning. They're everywhere right now, breeding...but this is the most up close and personal experience I've had. At one point it was sitting no more than 20 feet above me. I was talking to it, doing a Screech Owl call, and it was paying attention to every word. SO cool!

I apologize for the unsteady hand, I was literally slogging through knee-high grasses and mult-flora rose in a swamp to get to this bird! Worth it.


  1. The fox photo you question is interesting. I can see how you might think gray instead of red. I think even with the IR you would see some coat difference on a gray and I dont see a gray fox tail (black stripe, tip and a bit whispy)-- I see a red fox tail (robust and full). So my OPINION at this time is red :) lets hear if anyone else chimes in...

    1. Agreed- I just googled gray fox IR camera trap, etc see what gray foxes looked like in a b+w image. I agree with the coat/texture showing up regardless of the IR or flash. That face though, just looks so short. Thanks!

  2. I agree with JVN. Almost certainly a red.

    I've caught Grays hand-over-fist on camera traps when I lived in North Carolina...they don't have the black on the back of the ears (no black rim, like you see in your picture above). Also, no black you probably wouldn't see that fade to dark that's showing up on the legs in that picture.

    Typically the dark line on the muzzle is more pronounced in Grays too....but there's variation in that. JVN said, that black stripe down the back is a great diagnostic character if it shows up in the picture....

    Nice shots!!

    1. Thanks for the confirmation. I also at first thought it was a red, but then looking at that short little muzzle, and having no experience with grays, just thought I'd question it!

      Thanks for the input.

  3. great pics nice to see animals in their nat habitat and not playing car tag! of course the fox pic is probably a badger!!!

    1. Please excuse the Brit, she thinks everything is a BADGA!

  4. Wow, you're having great success with your cameras, especially for this time of year! It's fun seeing all the mammals who you've captured.

    I'll be interested to see if the differences among your cameras capture rates have to do with the scents or locations.

    1. Yes, me too! As of now "Camera A" is the hot one, as I mentioned earlier. "B" and "C" are less active, not sure why. We shall see!

      By they way, did you ever get my email- no worries as I've figured it all out (I think), just wondering!


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