Sunday, December 13, 2009

In the Woods by the Pond

On one bank of the one-acre pond that sits south of our family lodge is a forest, and on the other a sprawl of lawn, barns, beach, dock, bonfire pit, and tree swings.

the woods on the pond
The woods by the pond (dock, lawn, barn & beach are stage left)

The forested side was well overgrown until a year and a half ago. About that time the pond was filling up from our rework of it, and inspired, we started an informal project to clean up the brush and dead limbs in the oak & conifer understory of the forested area, to make it more explorable by us and the local wildlife. It's good for fire prevention too. We've taken out a lot of brush. Mountains of it. Well, maybe foothills. Here's Ma with a weekend's hard work:

brush we cleared by pond
Mom with our trophies

And we're still working on it. The forested area is bracketed on one side by the pond edge, and on the other by a trail we call Lakeside, that's about 100 feet off the pond, and runs parallel to it. We wanna clean up the whole bracketed area eventually. But so far, it's looking quite good, is very explorable, and signs suggest the animals are happy with our tending. I've personally seen deer, squirrels, jackrabbits, turkeys and wood ducks while poking about in there, and found oak titmouse and hairy woodpecker nest holes. And a couple of big-eared woodrat middens.

To get a sense of the full range of animals that are enjoying our work and foraging the area, I decided to do a little camera trapping survey of the various little gaps, game trails, cut-throughs and clearings in those woods by the pond.

I used both my lodge trail cameras, started the survey in mid-September, and ended it after Thanksgiving. Some of the sets were just a few days, others a month.

The gold star goes to this bobcat shot. It was a complete surprise. I was trying to see if anything lived in an old log pile next to the Lakeside trail and this little kitty walked on by. Pretty sure something was walking in front of it too - maybe another bobcat - the Moultrie camera is way too slow to wake up and catch a broadside shot like this:

A hot day for a beauty bobcat to be out and about!

The raccoon family also clambered over the log pile:

Raccoons foraging through with Mom in front and kids trailing

Nearby, also on the Lakeside trail, this curious jack came by:

Black-tailed jackrabbit stopping to check out the camera

And a western gray squirrel came and went often with groceries:

gray squirrel
"If only I had a shopping cart"

The Fragrant Fox
For a short set, I put the Moultrie trail cam on a little bumpy cut-through that showed signs of animal transit. As a lure, I peed on the focus area - a simple trick that often gets animals to stop and take a smell ("hmmm... wonder who this was?"). And it did. This little gray fox even liked it so much he added some to his own scent, while laying his down:

gray fox
"Mmmm... what is this lovely scent?"

gray fox
Gray fox rubbing on urine mark

The Acorn Foragers
In one set I unknowingly plunked the fast Reconyx camera right down in front of a Black Oak that was about to go all prolific and rain down acorns. As a result, I caught a storm of activity from foragers. Of course, the most active was this local western gray squirrel that "owns" these woods:

gray squirrel
Gray squirrel foraging acorns

spooky squirrel
Evil-twin gray squirrel stealing acorns

One of the worst but best pics is this shot of a chippie. We hadn't seen any chipmunks on the property for many years until this year, so to see them foraging by the pond is an extra treat - even if the pic is terrible. It's probably a Merriam's Chipmunk.

Chipmunk foraging for acorns (left of center, in shadow by blown out sun area)

Black-tailed jacks wandered through as well:


There's that poser Jack again...

And the odd opossum:

Another acorn lover?

Besides mammals, a bunch of feathered-friends stopped in too:

Wild turkey trotting by

Cal quail playing through

steller's jay
Steller's jay stealing the squirrel's acorns

Flicker woodpecker thinking about debugging the camera trap

Overall, I caught 13 species of critter (the above 11, plus deer and a domestic cat). No bears, coyotes or cougars. However, I would expect that if the smaller mammals and birds are hanging out in there, the larger ones give it a visit now and again. We know they use the Lakeside trail - we see their signs. Maybe I'll catch 'em next time.



1 comment:

  1. Yep, you have plenty of prey there for the bigger guys. A beautiful setting, indeed.


Please leave a comment, thought or question at any time.