On a recent camera check I found that something had dragged a skunk carcass near the camera (not me). The carcass attracted some attention from a coati, turkey vultures, and a mountain lion and her sub-adult offspring:
One of my new camera trap locations recently caught an adult female mountain lion and one of her yearling offspring:
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.
A coopers hawk:
A bat catching a sphinx moth at a cactus flower:
And a cute little western screech owl:
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 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!
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:
The camera traps I’ve set up have captured some very nice mountain lion activity. The following two videos show two different mountain lion families some 20 miles apart.
The first video is from Cat Canyon:
The second video is from Lion Wash, which I have had camera stationed on and off for over two years:
Yesterday I made the hike out to check on two camera traps I have set up in a wash in the Sonoran Desert. This is the same wash where my cameras captured three mountain lions when the cubs were nearing a year old (Second video below).
The following video was captured just last week. I’m so happy to see they are alive and well!
It’s been a long few months since finishing my tour on Sea Sheperd’s Operation Milagro. I worked on-board as a deckhand hauling in illegal nets, briefly as quartermaster on the bridge and primarily as one of a few drone operators. Here’s is Operation Milagro’s season end recap video:
During this time my dad passed away and I spent a few week back in Tucson with family. I officially left the Sea Shepherd campaign after my three month commitment ended at the end of April. At that point I needed a break to re-energize and reflect on the loss of my dad.
Since that time, I’ve been back in Tucson working on my house and volunteering again at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. I’ve also been catching up with my wildlife camera-trap projects at home, the Catalina Mountains and at the Audubon’s Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch. I’ll be posting regularly now that things have settled down.
Here’s the best so far from a camera in my yard:
Here’s another mountain lion from one of my Catalina Mountain cameras:
A bear showed up at the Audubon research ranch:
I took the following photos of Cruz, an orphaned mountain lion, at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.