Saturday, September 24, 2011

More from the Aspens

Of course, those 2 collared cougars weren't the only visitors to the aspen grove.

In all, 10 mammal species and 4 bird species stopped by in only 30 days.

Here's the roll-call:

Collared cougars
Striped skunk
Spotted skunk
Nuttall's cottontail
California ground squirrel (huh?)
Least chipmunk (probably least)
Bushy-tailed woodrat
Desert woodrat
Deer mouse

Northern flicker
Spotted towhee
American robin
Winter wren

A bountiful habitat, to be sure.

But I'm not too surprised. That aspen grove is harboring all sorts of tasties that should attract and maintain a food chain. I saw serviceberry, desert and mountain snowberry, wild roses, wax currants, gooseberries, nettles, and sierra onions. The latter all along the backside of the log.

Below are a photo and flipbook for each of the more interesting visits.

aspen set #2
A second angle of the aspen grove set

Bobcats visited 4 times. 3 sniff-throughs are below. Might all be the same bob. First 2 seem to be. Note that while the collared cougars entered boldly from the open field to the left, the bobcats always snuck through from the thickets on the right.

Bob #1:


Bob #2 - same as above?:


Bob #3 - too bad the cam didn't catch the scratching in full frame...


A spotted skunk came through too. Watch how fast and furious their foraging is:

spotted skunk

And a striped skunk snuffled the same log. Since stripe nicely stopped on the same end as spotty, you can get a good sense of the big difference in their size - over 2:1.

striped skunk

Last, a Nuttall's cottontail, Sylvilagus nuttallii, hopped up on to the log for some nibbles and a nice pose. At least I'm pretty sure it's a Nuttall's (also called mountain cottontails). The problem: Nuttall's and Audubon's cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii (also called desert cottontails), are notoriously hard to tell apart. Per Jameson & Peeters:

Feature Nuttall's cottontail    Audubon's cottontail
Dorsum fur color      brownish generally gray
Ears shorter, round tips, with fur inside      larger, sparsely furred
Back feet not particularly slender slender, sparsely furred

Based on my experience seeing desert cottontails, I'd say the rabbit in the pics below is more brown than gray, and has shorter ears that are furrier inside. Making it nuttallii.

But... while Jameson & Peeters also suggest that this area is out of the range of audubonii, some habitats are right, and I've seen some bunnies while out hiking that DO look very much like desert cottontails. Plus, J & P also say the area should be out of the range of the desert woodrat, Neotoma lepida, and I've caught them on cams and seen middens.

So, I can't call it for sure. Perhaps both nuttallii and audubonii are there, living sympatric.


Gotta love aspen groves.



  1. The flip books are not working for me. Appear as a black box. Might just be my old computer though.

  2. Hmmm... work fine for me in multiple browsers... They're Flash - do you have that turned off, or perhaps blocked by an ad blocking program?

  3. Not working on your Flickr stream either so I think it must be my old firefox browser. Will give it a try on a better computer in lab.

  4. That series of the scratching bob is very cool....

  5. The bobs are a lot skinnier than the ones we are getting in SC. Not a shocking observation, but interesting to me none-the-less

  6. JK - I take it you can see the flash vids now? I like that observation. I noticed it too. I was thinking maybe they were younger bobs, and thus a bit skinnier. The spottiness on the color bobcat is excellent - the most I've seen. Too bad it didn't catch the full broadside.

  7. I can't see the videos either :(

    I used IE9 and Chrome. I have flash installed, etc. Still enjoyed the blog none the less, as always :)

    Eh, wait, as I'm typing this my Chrome did an auto-update and it's working now on Chrome. :) sweet!


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