White Memorial Conservation Centers 2013 BioBlitz

Red Fox Tracks

Deneen and I had the opportunity to put our tracking to good use for the Mammal Team at White Memorials BioBlitz over the weekend.  For 24 hours a large team of scientists, experts and volunteers counted every living species on White Memorials 4000+ acres of very diverse habitat.  The final count was 931 species.  The Mammal Team counted 31 species, many of which were identified by tracks or sign.  There were also direct observations, live traps, and audio monitoring for bats.

Here was the Mammal team’s list and how they were identified.

Human    direct observation

Domestic Dog tracks and direct observation

Domestic Cat tracks and direct observation

Coyote   scat

Domestic Horse  scat, tracks, direct observation

Domestic Cow   direct observation

Red Fox   tracks

Raccoon   tracks, scat

Opossum   tracks

River Otter   scat

Long-tailed Weasel   tracks

Striped Skunk    scent

Woodchuck    direct observation

Porcupine    feeding sign on trees

Muskrat   scat, tracks, direct observation

Beaver   tracks, feeding sign, dam and lodges, direct observation

Bobcat   tracks

Jumping Mouse spp   tracks

Grey Squirrel   tracks, direct observation

Red Squirrel   track

Chipmunk   tracks, direct observation

White-footed Mouse   (the Mammal Team leader found evidence, I forgot to ask him what kind)

Meadow Vole   caught in live trap

Mole spp  tunnels

Little Brown Bat    audio monitoring

Big Brown Bat   direct observation, audio monitoring

Silver Haired Bat    audio monitoring

Red Bat    audio monitoring

Hoary Bat    audio monitoring

Eastern Cottontail   direct observation ( I could not completely rule out New England Cottontail which are know to be on the property in a different location)

White-tailed Deer    tracks, scat, direct observation

I also share some images from our time on the land.  At the top of the page are Red Fox tracks.

Long Tailed Weasel Tracks

Above Long-tailed Weasel tracks, below a painted turtle laying here eggs.

Painted Turtle laying eggs

Sunrise Litchfield Country Club

Above the Litchfield Country Club Golf Course at dawn (the clubs land is part of the White Memorial Foundation).

Below a spider in its web (sp unknown)

Spider Web

Turtle Tracks

Above turtle tracks, below a beaver trail.

Beaver tracks

Raccoon Tracks

Above Raccoon tracks along with bird tracks (possibly Killdeer or similar).

Below Muskrat tracks.

Muskrat Tracks

Osprey mobbed by Red-winged Black Bird

Above Osprey pestered by a Red-winged Black Bird, Below nest and eggs of a Northern Water Thrush located under bank of a small stream (one of the Bird Team identified it for us).

Northern Water Thrush eggs and nest

Jumping Mouse Tracks

Above Jumping Mouse sp tracks, below old Porcupine feeding sign (missing patches of bark)

Porcupine Feeding Sign

Otter Scat

Otter scat.

We spent all of the second half of the 24 hours searching for just a few more species, we already counted all but 2 or 3 of the final number by early morning (the time went from 3:13p on Friday till 3:13 p on Saturday). Several species we knew were there eluding us including Mink, Fisher, Bear, Shrews, more mice and voles.

Deer carcass visitors on camera

I placed a smallish road killed deer in front of our game camera in a high wildlife traffic area. In this and posts to come I will document what animals came to investigate and feed off of the carcass. As you will see by looking at the dates and times on the bottom of the pictures it was there for a while before anything but birds actually ate from it. The coyote seemed particularly shy, maybe do the the flash of the camera. Evidently they all got used to it after a while.

Placing deer carcass

Thats us carrying it out in front of cameras former position.  It will be moved 20 yards or so into the woods from this position.

Crows

No disturbance the first night.  Crows come the next day, eventually many of them every day.

Vulture
First vulture

Vultures come on day 2 and are present until 11 am.  Nothing has visited on night 2.

Vultures arrive
Raccoon visits carcass

The first night time visitor is on night 3 when a Raccoon shows up but does not feed from carcass.  Some crows come around the following day, day 3.

Shy Coyote

On night 4 a shy Eastern Coyote comes by and from 11:06 to 11:10 moves in and out but does not feed from the carcass.  We found this strange.  I have read that coyotes become suspicious of bait placed by humans if they have experienced trapping but have know reason to believe there has ever been trapping in the area.  The coyotes here, probably this very one, has eaten the suit I have put out in the past using my bare hands and must be familiar with my scent and humans in general.  All this is taking place in a patchy rural and suburban landscape.

Coyote
Red Tailed Hawk scavenges

Day 4 a Red Tailed Hawk comes on the scene.  I did not know them for scavengers but it comes at least twice on this day feeding.

Red Tailed Hawk
White Tailed Deer investigates carcass of another Deer

Night 4, 2 Deer come.  This made me feel bad.

Female Bobcat shows up at Deer carcass

Now things start getting interesting.  Closer to dawn on night 4 our resident female Bobcat gives it a sniff but does not feed yet.  In the next post you will see more of this animal and other large predators get down to business.

Tracks near the house.

Opossum tracks in the yard. Both front and hind feet are in the picture. The under step walk of the Opossum. He or she had checked my front door, found it closed and moved on. A squirrel tried to get away with this apple.

A Raccoon sat and ate this apple very recently, the water from the old apple was still unfrozen.

Some more Raccoon tracks, leaving the apple feast. This one has a routine of checking all the buildings on the property.
A nice, somewhat atypical Cottontail bounding pattern.

Another good tracking day.

Beaver Bog Swamp at Great Hollow Wilderness School in New Fairfield. Another day of perfect tracking conditions out on the swamp. Raccoon Tracks. Front track on the left, note the crescent palm pad shape.

Raccoon in their typical pacing gait. Close up of Bobcat tracks, front is to the left, hind to the right. Over step walk of a bobcat indicative of a faster walk, covering some distance quickly and efficiently.
Another overstep walk, this time a little slower.
Deer out on the ice.