Friday, February 18, 2011

The Clockwork Cougar

So, what else wandered down that little side canyon?

After almost 2 months, a whole lot of rain, and some major road work, we returned to the Tehachapis to find out.

Needless to say, we were a little worried about the cams we had put near waterways. The downpours and flash floods of the December deluges had been severe.

Little did we know, but a clue to our luck came to the porch light while we unloaded the car...

pacific green sphinx moth
Pacific Green Sphinx Moth, Arctonotus lucidus

The next morn we went to collect our cam in the fox-friendly wash first.

For the reset, we'd moved it a short distance to a creek-side trail, where a slope and cottonwood tree created a bit of a gauntlet. Glad for it too - the last location would have definitely drowned.

cam set 1
Reset cam along a small drainage, near a cottonwood

This time the cam had worked properly - lasting 3 weeks and taking 67 photos.

As we huddled 'round the LCD, the first strong character to claim the scene was quite a wow:

With the calm, impenetrable gaze of a Sphinx, this lion casually strolls by

In fact, the pretty Puma concolor had wandered the wash 4 times in 14 days.

Unfortunately, our fair feline came down the watercourse every time, so aside from the above passing glance, all the other cameos were booty views:

Walking away after looking at the cam on December 2nd at 11:23pm

December 8th at 6:27am

December 12th at 8:38pm

December 16th at 4:57pm in full daylight

But those tail-up shots do allow for a little sex speculation. Looking at the cat's "genital spot" (yes, that's a tech term) seems to indicate that she's a she. In males the spot is 4-5" below the anus, and it and the scrotum are usually visible. In females, the spot is only an inch or so below, so usually not visible unless their tail is way up.

Of course, I think it's just one mountain lion, but the December 12th photo does kinda look male, and somewhat different from the others...

So - if a lady lion, is this just a standard hunting circuit, or does she have something special stashed up there? Or, is it more than one cougar, and the cut-through a territorial overlap?

Perhaps we should set there again. But, this time we'll face the camera the other direction.




  1. Beautiful moth and sphinxy cat!

  2. Great sequence, and a lovely moth. What's next?

  3. I like the way she stands with her paw on the rock.

  4. Thanks all.

    Henry - I agree - that big paw really catches your eye.

  5. FYI, I forwarded that GORGEOUS moth pic to a friend who's a moth expert and he said: Yeah I actually published a paper on those. He has the wrong common name though. it's the Bear Sphinx.

    So, if you care, there ya go. A moth by any other name would be as beautiful. =)

  6. Thanks for that tidbit biobabbler. I use, and they don't have that as a common name yet.


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