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Monday, August 20, 2012

Think MINK

Mink
(Seneca Falls, NY 8/12)
With the drier weather we had this summer, I watched my ponds get smaller and smaller. Mink tracks started popping up on the muddy shoreline and I thought I would try to specifically target them with the camera traps. I placed a Cuddeback Capture at the pond in our backyard, facing the eastern edge of the pond. It only took two nights to produce this photo! This is one of my best mink photos ever (see this for my other favorite...). The composition is nice and the exposure is near perfect. I love those "white flash" cameras.

The other camera set I made for mink was with a Cuddeback Attack IR. The advantage was to be the video this camera takes. The disadvantage was the infrared flash. Don't get me wrong, I understand the value of the IR, I just prefer the color images. None of the video is worth sharing (animal moves out of frame almost instantly) but two of the still photos are nice. This set was on the edge of our reconstructed wetland about 1/4 mile from the first photo.

This was the first photo taken on the new set:
Mink
(Seneca Falls, NY 8/12)
Same mink? I am not sure, but I do not think so. Look back at the first photo an note the small white patch of fur on the chin. Mink often have some white or light coloration on the underside and if this mink had a white chinny-chin-chin, I would think it would show in this photo. However, his head is cocked just enough to make me think it is possible that white could be hidden. Perhaps I am being over cautious.


Mink
(Seneca Falls, NY 8/12)
Speaking of over cautious, I spent a long time looking at this photo in order to confirm my initial identification of mink. Let's look -->
First, note that this animal is wet. There is water to the right so it probably just emerged from there. The head is mostly hidden but the tail is visible. That fully furred tail rules out reasonable suspects like beaver and muskrats (we don't have nutria here) and leaves mink and river otter as the two most likely candidates given the habitat. But before we go there, I should also rule out less likely animals as well. It is not a woodchuck. Woodchucks can and do swim, but this is not a chuck. The fur is just too plush and chucks show a color difference from the body to tail usually. It is not a cat. There are no other rodents to eliminate. We have a few very dark skunks around, but a wet skunk looks different than this. No, I am comfortable with our short list of mink or otter. For me, there are two clues that make this a mink. First is size. An otter would be much bigger compared to the cattails. This animal DOES look large, especially in the rear half, but I think that is just the normal hunching of the back as it moves. And I have the added benefit from actually seeing the site in person. Second, the tail hair is too long for an otter. Otters are more sleek, especially in the tail. As unsatisfying as this photo may be, this is a mink.

My last mink photo is a a touch out of focus as it is so close to the lens. What a great look at a species that keeps to itself and goes largely unnoticed...
Mink
(Seneca Falls, NY 8/12)

2 comments:

  1. Great pics! Mustelids are just about my favorites, but I've also found them very difficult to get photos of (mink, in particular, just don't seem to ever sit still!). So these shots of yours are well-earned!

    I've been getting an increase in Mink clips lately too....they must be picking up their activity with the approach of fall.

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