I’m just back from a few days exploring one of Arizona’s sky islands. After receiving a bit of monsoon rainfall, the wildflowers and wildlife were quite abundant and the formerly dry landscape had turned green with new plant growth.
While exploring I also checked three trail cameras I’ve had in the region for several months. It was exciting to see all the critters captured by the cameras, including a sow black bear with two cubs.
I also had the chance to get this beautiful rattlesnake to move off the road:
I’ve had a camera trap set on my backyard pond going on 7 years continuously. I generally check the cameras every morning to see what critters have stopped by. In that time I’ve found adult bobcats to be quite common. However, this morning I was surprised to see the resident bobcat had brought her young kittens in for a drink last night.
We’re entering the time of year where rain is sparse. Likely no rain until July. So, at this time, when many species are having young or just trying to survive, any water source is a means of survival. This video captures many of the common critters here in Tucson, Arizona, all from my backyard:
Camera traps are one of the best ways to observe wildlife behavior that you’d likely not see because it’s either dark out or your presence would alter the animals behavior. I bought my first camera trap around 2005 and was instantly addicted. I had no idea there were such shenanigans happening when I wasn’t around.
Now, in 2019, I have about 10 personal cameras set up in the desert around my home town, Tucson, including my backyard. I also have another 10 cameras set up at Audubon’s Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch near Elgin, Arizona. We use these cameras for long-term wildlife monitoring, recording which animals and how often pass through the research ranch.
In this post I’d like to share some backyard wildlife action my cameras recently captured.
2018 was an an interesting year in terms of wildlife adventures. Early on there was time on Operation Milagro, working with Sea Shepherd in their efforts to save the vaquita from extinction. Later in the year I was again onboard a Sea Shepherd ship on Operation Treasured Islands, a campaign in support of Mexican biologists studying everything from plankton and plastics to pacific mantas and Hammerhead sharks. As with previous stints with the organization, one of my main tasks was drone operator, as well as deck crew.
Most of the year I was home in Tucson keeping my eyes open for interesting wildlife and maintaining my own set of 10 camera traps. I also continued my informal, long-term (4+ years now) wildlife monitoring project at the The Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch of the National Audubon Society. This project also uses approximately 10 camera traps set up in strategic locations, such as water sources and wildlife trails in order to document what species may be present or just passing through the area.
In both cases, my cameras have captured fun videos and images of desert tortoises to Mountain lions.
Here’s to hoping 2019 brings more wildlife beauty and conservation moments and opportunities. Happy New Year!