I teach an introductory course on mammal identification and natural history. This blog serves as a place for all of those stories, photos, facts and fun stuff that simply won't fit in the course. Type in your email below to follow this blog!
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Another camera-set meddler!
My last post described a coyote taking down a camera trap set last winter. Well, my troubles continued with a set I made with my Father's camera on his property in Fremont, NY. I placed the camera near his hunting stand to scout for deer activity. But the very first image on the very first night of the set reveals an animal either investigating the camera or simply trying to climb the tree it was attached to. My initial reaction was raccoon and I believe the second photo adds evidence for my claim.
It is a little like looking at ink blots at this point, but I think we are looking at the face of a raccoon here. The muzzle, an ear, part of the mask -- it all makes sense. But maybe I am just seeing what I want to see. Regardless of who the culprit was, the result was a camera that was pointed mostly towards the ground rather than straight ahead. I still managed to get photos of animals, but they were all pretty close to the camera. And as fascinating as blurry photos of squirrels can be, that was not the intent of this particular set.
(Fremont, NY 8/12)
In the five weeks this set was out, we managed only a single photo of a deer (she looks empathetic, as if she went out of her way to literally stick her neck out for us). This particular angle really emphasizes the shape of a white-tailed deer's face. Look at the placement of the eyes. I imagine that items disappear from view as she reaches in to nibble them.
But the real stars were the mice. With the camera pointed so low, I captured more mouse photos in this set than any other I have made. These Cuddebacks are not really designed to get crisp images of tiny mammals, so I am fine with the results given the camera I was using:
(Fremont, NY 8/12)
There are two mice in our region that are closely related and difficult to tell apart, even when in the hand. Both mice are in the Genus "Peromyscus" and since I do not know what the species name is, I used "sp." to signify the word "species". In other words, I am saying this is one of the species in the Genus Peromyscus and that is as precise as I can be. That stick in the center of the photo above was just too inviting and there are numerous photos of a mouse perched upon it.
One final shot below shows TWO mice in the same photo. Note that the mouse at the bottom left is much more gray than the other. The most likely explanation is that it is a young mouse. Years of running a mouse trapline in our pantry has taught me that juvenile mice come in this gray color and molt into the brown adult pelage from the sides up. I have caught mice with a gray dorsal stripe that were in mid change. For the record, I find camera trapping more rewarding. But I doubt I could convince my wife that setting a camera in the pantry would do the job....