Sunday, February 23, 2014

Deer Exodus

The melting snow in the Shenandoah Valley from last week and rain all around have made the Potomac River rise to "Flood Stage".  It's raging and is a dangerous monster when this happens.

Flowing on top of the water is a scattered garbage dump full of what I call "River Nonsense".  River nonsense is mostly made up of pieces of lumber, sticks, oil barrels, and general trash.  It's all the stuff that gets moving when the river floods its own banks.  It's not pretty, but sort of interesting in a weird way.

With the flowing water and garbage also comes another interesting sight.  Deer (the white-tailed variety of course) are swimming all over the place.  They're swimming to islands, from islands, to the mainland, and all over.  

They do this because some of them live on the islands of the Potomac River across from Great Falls, Virginia.  There are islands big and small, and when the river water rises this high, it makes for a very crammed problem for these deer. 

So what do these deer do?  The move, and to move away, they start swimming.

I saw this today and have only seen it once before during Hurricane Sandy's wrath.

I couldn't get a good picture of the deer since they were maybe around 300-400 yards away, but it was quite a sight.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Skunks in the Snow

The Centreville skunks have been out and about in the snow.  Like the raccoons around here, skunks are a lot more active in the night than in the day.

I was surprised that I didn't smell the noxious odor of a skunk when checking the camera on a large plot of land in Centreville, Virginia yesterday. I usually do smell it first.

We can clearly see here that there are two individuals walking in front of the camera.  One is a lot darker than the other, with most of its coat being black.  The other contains lots of white.

The coats of skunks vary greatly in color, but they all stink terribly.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Fairfax County has the famous fox that we all call "White Legs" (see previous post on White Legs here: A Friend of White Legs" but what famous fox does Loudoun County have?

The answer:  Loudoun County is home to a red fox that we'll call "Rat-Tail".

Rat-Tail is a unique red fox with a tail that is not bushy at all.  It is unknown why this fox looks like this.  It could be mange, disease, parasites, genetics, injury, or self-inflicted, we just don't know yet.

Rat-Tail first appeared on camera-trap images last year, then went A.W.O.L. for months, until now.  Rat-Tail could be a male or a female, there's no telling yet.

This fox could have a mate, since we have seen it romping around with another red fox lately.  It came across this camera in the daytime, just trotting by in a very canine-like fashion with its nose down.  It didn't stop at all by the camera, and continued on quickly.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snowy Owling

The snowy owls are all over now.  They've come from Canada and other places in the extreme north to visit for the winter.
Photo credit:  Hayley Ake
This year, the owls have come more south than in the past few years.  It's all part of the Snowy Owl Irruption.

I've seen a few of these owls in the past few months, and have been on the hunt to view them with my girlfriend since we heard of the first sighting around here.

These beasts hang out at local airports because the mowed grass and vast fields of airport lands are VERY similar to the landscape of the tundra where these owls come from.

They are experts at living in this weather and above lands with short vegetation.

Springfield Mall, Fairfax County, Virginia was the most recent place where we went to go see a Snowy.  People were lined up with binoculars and scopes, trying to peer at the owl.  It made for a great experience, especially when mall shoppers, children, and joggers came by and asked about what everyone was looking at.  The expert birders told them, and everyone seemed to have an extreme interest in these birds

These owls should be around for another month or so before they venture back towards Canada.  I'll be looking for them during this whole time.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wildlife Experiences

In the past two weeks I've been experiencing wildlife in incredible ways.  I've been trying to blog but have not had much time to check as many cameras as usual, but that short break of blogging ends now, and I'll be checking at least 12 cameras tomorrow.

During this little break, I've had some amazing wildlife experiences.  Here's a little list of what I've done and seen in the past 2 weeks.

  • Saw a coyote on a deer kill in Reston, Virginia.
  • Presented at the Virginia Chapter Meeting of The Wildlife Society.
  • Compared data and conversed with the leading biologist of the Smithsonian about camera traps that he had in Virginia. 
  • Camera-trapped some kind of weasel.  I am still in the process of identifying it but will post about it shortly.
  • Talked with other camera-trappers of Virginia Tech, Ferrum College, and Radford University.
  • Saw a bald eagle pick off a Canada goose on the Potomac River.  The fight only lasted a few seconds.
  • Got a new camera-trap location in Falls Church, Virginia
  • Supposedly had another bear attack a camera yesterday.  I'll be checking that camera tomorrow to see the damage.
It's crazy to think how all of these wildlife experiences all started with me putting up a single camera in a local park, just over a year ago.