Oak Gooseberry, Ribes quercetorum, in bloom at the time
Like ceanothus, it's a common shrub of the area.
It's also a key "safe zone" plant for small ground foraging mammals and birds, such as rabbits, squirrels, voles, mice, woodrats, k-rats, quail, thrashers, towhees... All foragers that spread seeds around, and help cultivate healthy ecosystems.
And, these small critters themselves are targets for many mid-size predators: badgers, weasels, skunks, ringtails, bobcats, foxes, coyotes... Not to mention owls, hawks, eagles, snakes...
I.e., w/o these kinds of dense hides, the animal count drops dramatically.
Saw an example of this first hand not long back. A friend up near Mariposa asked me why his property didn't seem to have the same diversity of mammals and birds we were seeing on our family property, which is close by. Deer came though, and turkeys, but not a lot of small mammals, like foxes and bobcats or chipmunks. And even quail rarely poked about.
His land, unlike ours, had been mostly cleared of all the "brush" - the mid-size shrubs and bushes, such as gooseberry, ceanothus, manzanita, toyon, coffeeberry and like - leaving mostly just the large trees, and grasses & wildflowers.
Park-setting pretty, but no cover, no animals.
Set #12 also shows this first hand.
Set #12 - the gooseberry and ceanothus trail
Like most of the sets in the Tehachapis, the local always-on-the-prowl gray foxes and bobcat showed up for sniffs and sprays:
Gray fox coming in for a sniff of the scent mark rocks
Bobcat marking rock
Some unidentified flying k-rats (UFKs) were also caught:
Unidentified Flying K-rat at 8:12pm
UFK zipping through scene
UFK coming in for landing on rock
Our best guess: they're hearing the camera turn on, and are jumping just as the flash goes off.
A couple of other Rodentia stopped by the scene too:
Poser Merriam's Chipmunk, Tamias merriami
Curious Cal Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus beecheyi
And last, ground foraging birds also came out of the gooseberry to work the trail:
A California Thrasher, Toxostoma rediviva, giving the cam a look-see
Two Thrashers squawking
American Robin, Turdus migratorius
Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
Biodiversity by (and by) bushes. Cool.
- The Nature of a Man (this blog) - posts on cam trapping the Tehachapis