Friday, July 31, 2009

Wall Street in the Woods

Alternate title: A Sign of Economic Turnaround?

As previously reported, I've started a project to regularly survey the fencelines around our family lodge near Yosemite to see what comes across where, when and how often.

For my second survey, I took the camera to the north fence where I had found evidence of bear transit. The evidence being that the bears had repeatedly knocked down the tattered old fence whenever they wanted to get across. I'd prop it up, they'd knock it down. Rinse & repeat. After several cycles of this over the last year, I finally created a small gap in the fence so they could get through and continue their territorial travels. My out-smarting had one flaw - I didn't know the neighbors had decided to run bulls on their property this Summer. D'oh!

Fenceline Survey #2 - Under the Canyon Oaks near the Old Road

The camera was set for 21 days on the fence gap. It triggered 78 times for 234 photos (I had it set to take 3 shots per trigger event).

Camera POV: the camera is pointing north towards the fence - the gap is just beyond the multi-trunk canyon oak. Behind the camera to the south is one of the main trails/paths that leads into the property and towards the pond & house. Photos are in chronological order.

The resident Mule Deer ladies triggered the camera often while wandering the properties:

Mule Deer does

A Western Gray Squirrel living nearby accounted for 1/4 of the events (60 pics):

Western Gray Squirrel foraging (or posing)

A Bobcat transited twice, maybe looking for that squirrel:

blurry bobcat
Blurry Bobcat

Our Cinnamon Black Bear came through on 6/24 at 5:04pm, fiddled with the camera with her paw, and then trundled off under the oaks. No pics were deleted though - maybe she's just a geek and likes camera tech. Glad she has a gentle touch!

bear paw
Cinnamon Black Bear claw

bear butt
And the fuzzy butt of the Cinnamon Black Bear

Black-tailed Jackrabbits were caught a few times. This one did the freaky sit-and-stare at the red glow of the IR flash again. Weird.

freaky jackrabbit
Transfixed Black-tailed Jackrabbit

The young Mule Deer bucks came through on their rounds as well:

Buck Mule Deer

A Black Bear smiled for the camera on 6/28 at 11:09pm - probably the cinnamon again (the fur color is light in the IR flash):

Smiling Black Bear

And now for some bull. Ginormous Black Angus Bull that is. Unbelievably to me, one of the neighbor's monstrous bulls found his way through the thick brush to cross the gap in the fence. I'm guessing it's because the grass truly IS greener on our side of the fence, and he could smell it (along with the pond, which is where he happily ended up).

But before he made it to the pond, he hung out by the camera for an hour:

a camera full of bull
In comes the Bull...

Bull taking a nap in front of the camera for an hour

Bull getting up to leave - definitely a boy! (TMI)

And here's the neighbor coming to get the bull and fix the fence:

checking fence
Neighbor on ATV

Hope the bull enjoyed his mini vacation by the pond. Now that the fence has been patched and stabilized with new posts, it's gonna be interesting to see what the bears think of it. If they start trying to knock it down again, I'm guessing we'll have to come up with a gap solution that's bear-friendly and bull-thwarting. Should be easy enough.

Back to the wild things. A handsome Jackrabbit ran by on 7/4:

jack on the run
Black-tailed Jack on the run

Here's an interesting pair of pics. They're from the same trigger event, but are 10 seconds apart (when set to take multiple pics per trigger, the camera pauses about 10 seconds between shots). Either the Black Bear did a circle to come back by the camera, or there were two...

bear 1
Black Bear on 7/6 at 10:52pm

bear 2
Same bear going by 10 seconds later? I think not...

A Striped Skunk foraged through twice. In this shot he squared off with the camera in a classic "come any closer and you're gonna get sprayed" pose.

skunk striking a stance
Striped Skunk squaring off with the camera

And finally, a curious Mule Deer doe stopped for a peek at the camera on 7/7:

Curious Mule Deer

A little more color commentary...

78 camera events over 21 days:
Misses (no visible animal)17
Western Gray Squirrel20
Angus Bull16
Mule Deer11
Black-tailed Jackrabbit7
Black Bear3
Striped Skunk2
Wild Turkey0
Mountain Lion0
Gray Fox0

Not many misses and all but 1 of them were during the day. My guess is that most were triggered by the Gray Squirrel foraging the area.

Bear(s) came through on 6/24, 6/28 & 7/6. Whether they're all the same bear or not, it shows that they don't really hang out, but move around a much larger territory that includes our property. The ripening of the Summer berries is probably why their visits are getting more frequent though. This also seems to confirm that they're coming from the north - from the wild Forest Service land that's but a stone's throw that direction.

No Mountain Lions of course - still no takers for the freed-up territory I guess.

No Gray Foxes and Coyotes. Perhaps they come through the fence elsewhere.

And no Wild Turkeys. Maybe they were still nesting - several hens and a slew of fat poults showed up around the house a few days after I pulled the camera.

16 triggers from Bulls and 3 from Bears - does that mean the economy is going to be OK?


Interesting factoids:
  • Angus cattle originated in Scotland in the early 1800's. The two main progenitors of the breed were a bull named "Old Jock" and a cow named "Old Granny." Old Granny lived 35 years and had 29 calves, and the majority of Angus cattle alive today can trace their heritage back to her and Old Jock.


Wikipedia - Angus Cattle


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