Saturday, February 21, 2015

Exploring with a Trailcam

Nature is full of unseen marvels.  Last summer we were returning from a hike at dusk, driving along a logging road, when our headlights lit upon a creature ambling across the road on stumpy legs.  Oblivious to us, it paused only to turn its behind in our direction and poop in the middle of the road, then shuffled on its way.  It was a porcupine!  Jasper was startled to see this strange critter.  I explained that there are many mammals living around us in the Pacific Northwest, but the majority are nocturnal.  We were watching a show about dinosaurs where they explained that mammals' nocturnal habits are a legacy of sharing their habitats with dinosaurs that favored the daytime. Animal tracking can reveal the clues that mammals leave behind which we generally overlook.  But a trail camera seemed to me to be a great way to get a glimpse of the animals themselves.  My sweet mom delighted me with one at Christmas, and I set it up with the guidance and generous help of friends with wooded property.  When I returned several weeks later, I discovered it had taken 1,687 photos, 1,677 of which were of ferns waving on a windy day!  It was actually rather peaceful to watch the photos loading.  It seems to me a worthwhile thing to pause on a busy day to watch fern fronds waving gently in the wind!  But there were 10 pictures of critters.  Five were of a coyote pausing along the game trail.  Another five were of an animal barely glimpsed and most likely a deer. We moved the camera to a spot less popular with ferns and we'll be back.

Coyote.
Deer (?) in bottom right.
Jasper found a fallen bird's nest.
Our friends know this grouse that lives in their woods well.

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