Black Bears

When I first started camera trapping, mountain lions were my ultimate goal. It took me a few years to learn to track them and identify the best spots to place a camera in order to catch them in action. When that happened I was ecstatic. By chance, I had no idea I’d also be capturing lot’s of black bear activity.

That said, here are a few clips of black bears in action as captured by my cameras so far this year:

Camera Trapping

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.

Mountain lion in the Sonoran Desert. Copyright: Greg Joder.

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.

A bobcat:

A coopers hawk:

A bat catching a sphinx moth at a cactus flower:

And a cute little western screech owl:

Mountain Lions of 2018

While I am still in Costa Rica, I wanted to share a short video of many, but not all, of the mountain lions my trail cameras captured in 2018. Not sure how many individuals are represented here, though I’m thinking around 8 or 9, based off location and physical characteristics. Feel free to comment if you have a guess or know an easy way to visually distinguish individuals. Enjoy!

2018, a Bit of a Review

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!

A Band of White-nosed Coati

This trail cam capture was a fun surprise, a band of white-nosed coati foraging in a creek-bed. I set up the cameras about two weeks earlier, hoping to catch bears or mountain lions. I was happily surprised to see the cameras had captured the action of this band of coati as they worked their way down the creek. Pay close attention to the youngsters as they climb up and down trees and explore:

Desert Bighorn Sheep & A Bear

I don’t want to mislead everyone that my blog is all about trail camera captures. It is much more than that, given time. Currently, however, trail cameras have been a focus of my outdoor life (I’m not a hunter, but rather want to protect wildlife). I have other adventures in mind that will not involve trail cameras. I hope you’ll stick with me to see those adventures. In the mean time, I have more trail camera action to share with you. First, is a video of scouting a new location to set up a couple trail cameras:

Second are two videos that represent patience and luck when choosing a trail camera location.

A Desert Bighorn Sheep:

A Juvenile Black Bear:

 

Of Mountain Lions …

When I first learned about game cameras I was immediately interested in how such camera traps could catch activities of wildlife undisturbed by human presence. I was also excited by the possibility of catching images or video of large predators in action, specifically mountain lions. I am no hunter and do not support trophy hunting or predator hunting and abhor these practices for many reasons. That said, so-called ‘game cameras’ are an essential tool for wildlife research and monitoring.

It took me several years to learn how to find the right place to set a camera trap that would catch large predators like mountain lions, but I finally caught on and learned to see their activity by tracks and associated preferred haunts.

Here are a few mountain lion videos that my camera traps have captured this year.

Mountain Lion & Fawn:

Mountain Lion in the Desert Heat:

Bear, Skunk, Bobcat and Mountain Lion:

Mountain Lion on the Move:

First Mountain Lion of 2018: