Thursday, August 29, 2013

White Legs Returns

White Legs made another appearance at one of the cameras in Great Falls.  It's been a little while since I've seen it last but it's definitely hanging around still.

This time, it seemed more curious, as it stayed within the camera's view for 5 minutes longer than last time and made a lot of peeks at the camera.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fall and Winter Owls

I've decided that a good portion of my cameras will be used for owl surveys in Loudoun and Fairfax counties this fall and winter.  I figured it would be a good idea to take some of the cameras out of the fields that get hunted the most so as to decrease the risk of cameras being disturbed by hunters.  Some cameras will now be placed in buildings.

Barred owls sometimes show up on my cameras by chance, but the new goal for the next few months is to photograph barn owls, screech owls, and great horned owls as well.

Along with volunteers and co-workers, I will map out abandoned buildings and other places where owls are commonly found.  We'll be looking in barns, silos, and hollow trees for owl pellets, owl feathers, and signs of small mammals.  Small mammals are a favorite food of all Virginia owls, so finding out where they are located will help us locate the owls.

At least 6 cameras will be used for this owl survey, but I may consider using even more.  Don't worry though mammal lovers, there will still be a healthy population of my cameras out in the woods still during the coldest months.

For the next few weeks though, the cameras will still be out in the fields and woods of Virginia until I start the owl projects.  With nuts falling from the trees these days, who knows what will come up on the cameras next?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bear Blogging

Black bears are roaming around all the time.  It's hard for me to tell exactly where they'll be since they move so quickly and can cover a huge area of land in just a day.

Today, it was obvious that a bear had been around one of my cameras.  There were scratches and paw prints all over the area.  Walnuts from a nearby tree were smashed open and I could just tell the area was messed with by something big.

Of course the time stamp is wrong.  Even if I switch the camera to the correct date, it still seems to go wrong when the camera enters "sleep" mode.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fairfax Coyote

 This post isn't about the writing or the experiences, but rather just the pictures.  All you really need to know is that the animal is a definite coyote, the place is in Great Falls, Virginia, and that I am really excited.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Landscapes of Leesburg, Moving Cameras, and Bear Claw Marks

The pictures below show some of the landscapes and habitats that make up the wildest parts of Leesburg, Virginia located in Loudoun County.

One area in particular (which I will keep somewhat a secret for now) offers grasslands full of shrubs, deep forests, and meadows that contain beautiful goldenrod flowers.

It really is a cam-trappers and wildlife enthusiast's heaven.  There are bears that filter in an out, coyotes screaming across the meadows, and hawks that patrol the skies.

I've got a lot of cameras in these areas and have had a few there for some time now.  Hopefully more animals will get a photo or two taken of them.

The cameras that were up here were taken to different spots today to see if that makes any difference in the results.  While placing the cameras in their newest spots, I found myself staring at this beech tree.
Yeah, those are bear claw markings!  Although it is the same species of tree and in the same general area as a tree that I posted about months ago (see: Bear Claw Markings ), it is definitely a different tree with a different set of black bear marks on it.

Results from the cameras that I put all over Leesburg should pour in shortly, but for now, it's time for me to get some rest for tomorrow when I do it all over again in a different place.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

White Legs

I've named this particular red fox, "White Legs".  How I came up with this name should be obvious.  I blew up and cropped some of the photos of White Legs so you could better see the coloration of its fur.

Those legs are just so incredibly bright!  What does this mean exactly?  Well, for me, it means that this fox is going to be very easy to identify every time it comes up on camera.  I can estimate the populations of foxes even better when the animals vary this much in color.

Take a look at the picture below of another red fox and notice the different colors of fur on its legs.

White Legs resides in Fairfax County and cannot yet be identified as male nor female.

I hope we'll all be seeing more of White Legs shortly.

7 Raccoons

Usually I don't enjoy raccoon images that come up after every time camera-traps are checked since I get so many of them, but these images are unusual.  There are 7 raccoons in the pictures.  I've never seen this many on camera before.  

They're all hanging out and feasting on the remains of a deer that I found at that exact spot.  They could also be eating the massive amount of insects that are feasting on the deer remains.  Either way, it's interesting to see so many raccoons.

These pictures are only 2 of the 9,800 that I have to check soon.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Virginia Mountain Lions

Cougars, mountain lions, catamounts, pumas.  Call them what you want, I've never seen them around here in person nor on camera.  In fact, the eastern cougar (which is what would be in Virginia) is extinct.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared them extinct in 2011.  The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' website still recognizes the animal, but claims that there have been no officially confirmed cases of them in Virginia for many, many years.   Pumas live in many other parts of the U.S., and should not be confused with this subspecies of large cat.

Even with them officially extinct in Virginia, some people still swear by their sightings of these feline beasts. I've read a lot on recent unconfirmed sightings around here and enjoy the passion that is in the writing of people's stories. I take them into consideration of course, and will have my camera-traps out in the wild anyway.  It would be such an amazing experience to get a cougar on camera in northern Virginia, but for now, I won't expect to ever see one here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Camera-Trapping in a Tick Safari

Ticks are somewhere on the very top of my list of the most annoying animals on the planet.  Those blood suckers are crawling all over the woods around Virginia this time of year.  They're out in the millions.  It's incredibly annoying to get to some of my camera-trap sites now because when I come back from them, I know a good chunk of time will be spent checking my body for ticks.

Half of the time, I just feel them crawling on me, but the other half can be anywhere on my skin.  It really is bad around here this time of year.  The woodiest and most natural areas turn into something that I have been known to call "Tick Safaris".

Even with the ticks attacking, cameras still need to be checked.

A few days ago, I went out with one of the volunteers and did some good wildlife research by camera-trap. She didn't seem to be too bothered by the crazy number of ticks around us.  I admit though, I was a bit bothered.

We moved into some swarming patches of Japanese stiltgrass and got to work.   The typical acts of checking and changing things in the camera were done.  Results were checked on the computer.  One of my favorites came from one that we placed near a stream where rocks had been place to dampen the effects of faster water.  Red foxes seemed to like this spot, and of course, had built a den near it a few months ago.

In other news, I saw a black bear today in Fairfax County.  I'll do a blog post on that shortly but I'm first waiting for cameras in that area to be checked to see if it came up on any of them.  Also today, I saw 3 fox kits playing on a baseball field and a pair of pileated woodpeckers bolting from tree to tree in Sterling, Virginia.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ms. Deer's Parasitic Problem

Ms. Deer walked by a camera a while back.  She was showing off her summer coat dotted with unidentifiable insects and ticks on it.

Look carefully at her back, and you should be able to see tons of them.

Those parasites must be happy.  There's no word yet of what Ms. Deer thinks about her parasitic problem, but one can assume that she must be itching like crazy.

It is only assumed that this white-tailed deer is a female due to its lack of antlers.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fishing While Waiting for the Cameras

With all of the cameras out in full force this past week, I've had none to check for a few days (for once).  I'm letting them all sit out there for at least a few days so that my human scent gets washed away from them after a few rains.  Also, an army of volunteers has been helping me check them, so I'm waiting on a few emails with some great results from the cameras.

In the meantime, I've been on the water fishing a lot for work and play purposes.  Here are some of my best fishing pictures from the past week.
19-20 inch smallmouth bass caught on a tube-lure.
Striped bass caught on live-lined spot on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.