Monday, March 5, 2012

A Cure for Cabin Fever

A major trial of winter cam trapping is water. Insidious, incredible water. Via rain, snow and fog it brings condensation, lens spots, snow pile-up, sagging branches, washouts, & malfunctions.

And, while there's a handful of tricks to minimize these pains (rain hoods, desiccants...), the most effective solution is to just keep the camera out of the elements.

I.e., put it in, or under, a place where it'll be protected.

And perhaps it'll also be the type of place animals like to go to get out of the weather, too.

In the Tehachapi Mountains, on that amazing old California cattle ranch I'm helping to survey, my eye caught just such a place last year:

old homestead
A classic country fixer upper, complete with security system. In this case, SAS likely stands for "Squirrels, Ants and Skunks"

So, when the "wet" season began late last October, we set a camera inside to see who might drop in for a visit over the winter. Or, maybe even take up temporary residence.

You see, old homesteads and barns like this often become specialized habitats and sanctuaries for a slew of species, such as ringtails, raccoons, skunks, bats, woodrats, mice, birds, herps y mucho inverts. I.e., they turn into land reefs - just like huge, old, dead-and-hollow oak trees.

However, with the lack of rain and snow in Cali this season, it ended up being a pretty quiet time at the old cabin. Programmed to take photos during night only, the camera triggered just 24 times in 10 weeks, with several long gaps of 5, 11 and 20 days of nada, zilch, and nothing.

But, it wasn't all dead air and false triggers. A few fine locals did stop by to break the cabin fever, and give a "howdy"...

gray fox
Quick gray fox playing through

Pacific kangaroo rat (Dipodomys agilis) hopping around the room

Doing, doing, doing... "You get outta this house with those muddy feet!"

black bear
"Well hello!" A white-throated cinnamon black bear peeking in

black bear
Wonder what cinnamon smells? We didn't use any scents - the set was au naturale

door mouse
And a door mouse, of course. A Peromyscus species - perhaps maniculatus

A good cast of characters, but just a bunch of lookie-loos.

None were serious renters for that room - except maybe the mouse.

Might have to put the cabin back on the market this summer to see if the heat brings any interest.



  1. WOW that bear is GORGEOUS!

  2. Great post and story, Ken. I love it. Keep it up, mann.

  3. That bear standing in the doorway is priceless!!


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