Sunday, January 17, 2010

End o' Year Lodge Wildlife Report

When you have a place on the edge of a rural community, such as our family lodge near Mariposa, camera traps are not only fascinating & amusing, they're also quite practical. They tell you what's around, and how often it visits, and that info can be very handy when thinking about building garden fences, putting out trash cans, latching outdoor closet doors, screening roof vents, and letting pets roam. And if you have livestock, such as chickens, well...

So, without further ado, here's my scattered observations, approximate head counts, and estimated regularity of the local Sierra Nevada beasties around the lodge, as derived from my year of trapping with 2 trail cameras, and scouting for signs and scat and beds and kills and such. Oh, with a heaping dash of research on animal behavior and territory sizes mixed in too.

24 species were caught on camera in 2009 in ~ 20 different camera sets/locations that ranged from 1-35 nights, with most being in place 20-30 nights.

Black Bears: there still seems to be just 2 bears that come around - a cinnamon female that forages through every few weeks for berries & acorns, and a bigger, darker (probably near black) male that comes infrequently, and maybe from the direction of the road (The Mariposa Bear?).

Mountain Lions: 0, nada, zilch, none. There hasn't been cougar sign all year - no scat, no kills, no pics, no nothing. Not a bad thing, but the deer could pile up.

Coyotes: 2-3 - a pair and a loner I think. They don't come often, and seem to be quite skittish.

Bobcats: at least 2, but not many more than that. They're around often, if not nightly.

Gray Foxes: at least 2, but not many more than that. They're around often, if not nightly.

Domestic Cats: 3 - an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black feral (I think) w/ white chest.

Striped Skunks: at least one around, but not more than 2. They patrol nightly.

Opossums: at least 2 around, but probably not many more than that. They patrol nightly.

Raccoons: a mom with 3-4 younglets. They patrol nightly.

Black-tailed Jackrabbits: lots.

Western Gray Squirrels: lots.

Chipmunks (Merriam's, I think): at least 2! A new move-in this year!

Dusky-footed / Big-eared Woodrats: lots.

Mule Deer: 15-20ish. I've seen about 5 different bucks, 4 fawns and 6-7 does this year.

Wild Turkeys: I've counted over 45 when the smaller groups cluster together in winter. They seem to merge right around Thanksgiving.

California Quail: lots.

The also caughts: an Angus bull, mice, scrub & steller's jays, a northern flicker, some vultures, and a few wood & mallard ducks.

Of course, this isn't all the animals around. There's also hawks and owls and the occasional great blue heron. And a ground squirrel. But I didn't catch them on digifilm this year.

The Cast of Characters - Larger Carnies & Omnivores:

black bear
Big black bear coming through the fence gap

black bear
Same bear a few nights earlier

cinnamon black bear
Cinnamon black bear on the trail

cinnamon black bear butt
Cinnamon black bear butt

hello bear!
Cinnamon black bear on rock - note light color in infrared


Coyote on flat rock

coyote on the run
Coyote on the run through fence gap


beauty bobcat
Bobcat strolling on hot day

bobcat on the trail
Bobcat on an early morning prowl


gray fox
Gray fox sneaking up on the camera

gray fox
Gray fox sniffing

The Herbies:

cute fawn
Cute fawn going by

doe and twin fawns
Mom and young fawn in garden

a camera full of bull
Angus bull butt

deer party
Mule deer mixer

buck with horn falling off
Buck with dangling horn

The Smaller Critters:

striped skunk
Skunk foraging

striped skunk
Pepe on patrol


Curious raccoons

Night bandits


Jack trotting on by

Two jacks on a rock

stopping to smell the pretty face
Jackrabbit sniffing lilies


Possum poking about

Big opossum in the garden


curious squirrel
Curious squirrel in the snow




Many wild turkeys


Quail crossing




  1. Nice post again. Interesting stats. I think 24 different species is a pretty nice score!

  2. Good report, mann. I especially like the skinny bipedal raccoon and the peeping squirrel.

  3. I enjoyed this post. And I'm thinking I need to get a camera trap...

  4. Thanks all. It was a good year. This year: better shots and new species!


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