Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two new critters!

I awoke this morning at 4am to get a drink of water, and have been awake since. Panicked thoughts are running through my mind about all of the LARGE life choices I've made in the past several months, and my recent birthday has me slightly closer to the big 3-0 which has definitely fueled a lot of my decisions (and angst).

So I decided to greet the day, and catch up on some school work and blogging.

Yesterday (4/9/2012) even though I had the day off from classes and work, I had to head to the field station to check my cameras and re-scent my sets. I'm in my 9th week of my 12 week study, and I finally, FINALLY got one of my Holy Grail critters...but I'll leave that 'til later in the post.

It was another gorgeous day here in the Finger Lakes- very breezy, but mild and sunny. This week I had a classmate and friend join me on my "chores", Judi- an import from our Mother Land. She's great- sarcastic, funny, so eager to learn our flora and fauna, and I just love her accent.

As I was gathering materials and writing in my journal, she was having a look around where we were parked, and found a bat!

As you can see, we got pretty close to the bat- can you pick it out? Lower left corner of the bat house- yes, that little shadow.

He didn't seem to get the memo on how to properly use the provided bat house, although others must have been in there since the siding was covered in bat scat (guano).

I don't know what to name this little guy. And I mean species, not pet name. I have little experience with bats, just a brief unit on them in a 7 week (BUT PHENOMENAL) wildlife/mammals course. And to be honest, although I'm a mammal-lover, bats don't really pull the cute factor off so well. I have the Peterson's Mammals of North America guide, and so what I THINK this bat is, after a brief flip through the pages, is an LBB- Little Brown Bat. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

So this was an exciting find, new personal species sighting for me. Well, I've seen bats hundreds of times, but...never so close. How cool would it have been if THIS was my new camera-trap species? Last summer at our week long field camp course that's required of students in my program to take, we set a camera up with a dangling eraser hoping the bats would zero in on it and get their picture taken. If memory serves me right, I don't think it worked.

Ok, so onto the Cuddeback pictures! When I first looked at these pictures yesterday at the field station, I felt a little disappointed (even though I got 2 pics of an awesome species!). I feel like activity frequency and diversity is waning as time goes on. But, then I looked at these pictures again and shut my mouth. THEY ARE AWESOME! Of course, if I was to do this project over, there are 101 things I'd do differently, but I have just 3 weeks left of the study and 5 of the semester. So I'll just stick to the protocol and keep plugging away!

Camera A

A wet looking raccoon. I wonder if he was in the water, or just damp from the dew. Cuddeback recently posted on their Facebook page a picture that a customer sent in of 2 raccoons swimming through some swampy water. Well....one was swimming, the other was "piggy-backing".

Camera B

A WTD checking out the scent pad. It's funny how often deer come up for a sniff...as you'll see in the following...


A blur of a red fox

Another blur of red fox

A gorgeous hen Turkey about to lose a feather! AND in fact, I think Mady and I found this feather while on our "Swamp Stomp"!

Red fox


And a red fox up very late! I can't believe I got such a nice picture so late in the day for a typically nocturnal/crepuscular animal. And I think this guy or gal is bringing home a snack to the family, perhaps Microtus pennsylvanicus?

Camera C


Gray squirrel with a mouth full as well!

Camera D



Another neat picture of the same red fox from above- this is the one with a mouth full of rodent, just further along the trail. I wonder if this fox really does have a den full of kits somewhere very near by. I wish there was a way for me to differentiate between fox, because at this camera in particular, I've had heavy fox traffic all season.

Here's ANOTHER fox picture even later in the day with a stick in it's mouth?

An angry CAGO chasing off some American Crows! Awesome picture!

AND finally, the soup du jour, grand finale, Holy Grail critter of the post...

Ta-da! Can you see what it is? I was literally flipping when I figured it out...

RIVER OTTERS! In the picture above this one, there's clearly one of them...and in this one, I see 1 probably 2! I know the pictures aren't the best, but IMHO...these are some awesome pictures. I've been quietly questioning why I haven't seen these guys around at all on camera or in person. They were reintroduced to this swamp in particular about 10 years ago, and ARE still here (obviously), but evasive. I'm so glad to be able to check them off my bucket list!

Below are some cropped pictures to help you pick them out...

The otter's head is to the right (see the eye shine?), and then the curved, humped back and ending in the thick tail to the left.

And those are my pictures for week 9! Pretty successful haul I think. I am left with a few questions though:

-Why has it taken this long to get otters?
-Where are all the beaver that I KNOW live here?
-Why haven't I gotten a bear?! I've found 3 different sets of FRESH tracks within eyesight of a camera, AND scat for that matter.
-Where did all the opossums go this week?

1 comment:

  1. I'm enjoying your study a lot, and I can't wait to hear how it turns out. It sure looks like a lot of animals are interested in your lures, and then at the "fox" site, it looks like you're getting a lot of traffic just passing by.

    How long have your bears been awake? I find that ours are very reclusive until May or so. I know that they're up and moving around some but they seem to stay away from their normal travel routes. I don't know where they are. I wonder if your bears are actively avoiding the places where your scent is since they aren't fully awake yet.


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