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Posts categorized Trail Camera.

Mariton: Lean On Me

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

This gracefully arching rhododendron (Rhododendron maxiamum) is located along the Main Trail just past the intersection with the Woods Trail.  (You can see the photo was taken on a cold day, because the leaves are rolled up to conserve water.)  It is a magnificent specimen, and around 100 years old.  Over the years this tree has sagged lower and lower.

I can’t bear to cut it yet. I prop it up because the tractor’s roll bar is about a foot higher than the bough. I often travel this way with the tractor to perform trail maintenance.  Without the prop for elevation, the roll bar would rub off the bark.  The prop doesn’t harm the tree, and has been a good compromise between the two of us.  I really hope this rhodie is still at Mariton long after I am gone.  (On the other hand, I hope it falls of its own volition before something else happens.  I don’t want to be the one that has to cut it.)

Mariton: The Nose Knows

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

The first deer to cross my trail.  Her front feet are literally where I walked to the camera.

These trail camera photos capture the surprise of deer as they came across my trail in a remote part of the Mariton. I normally try to change camera cards just before (or during ) a rain in order  to wash away my scent.  I departed from that in this instance because I wanted to change the card and batteries before a cold spell.  I have to cross the deer trail to get to the camera.  This was the first group of deer to come down the trail after I had been there.  Not only do they “sense” my tracks, but I think they can smell my scent on the camera. They came by the next day and didn’t bat an eye.

They have walked by the camera plenty of times, but this time the smells are different.

Mariton: Oh, How They Grow

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

June 25, 2016

June 25, 2016

The photos of these two fawns were taken by the trail camera about 2 months apart.  They may not be the same fawn, but they were born about the same time.  As the camera is located in the same place you can see how much these fawns have grown.  For the most part, this camera has picked up just one family group, a doe and her twins.

August 26, 2016

August 26,2016

For much of the summer, the two fawns were together in photos with their mother. (Or all three would be captured in sequential photos as they tripped the camera.)  Now that they are older the fawns are seen together less often in photos, even in sequential photos.  I am pretty sure by looking at the photos that one of the fawns is a young buck and the other a doe.  In my experience doe fawns will stay closer to their mother and buck fawns will start exploring on their own.  They still come together, but the trail camera reveals how much the buck fawn is traveling on his own.  It won’t be long before their winter coat starts growing and their spots will fade.

Mariton: June Trail Cam Photos

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.

Gratuitous Cute Fawn Photo.

Gratuitous Cute Fawn Photo

I moved the Trail Camera a month ago to a trail that has an intermittent mud puddle. The puddle holds water after it rains, but dries out quickly.  I expected to see some animals using the water in the puddle because I see tracks there.  I didn’t get any photos of animals actually drinking from the puddle, but I did get a lot of photos of deer using the trail.  In particular, two different does (both of them have two fawns) are using the area frequently.

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How do I know that these are two different does?  *

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(The photos with both fawns are mostly blurred or cut off.  By going through the photos I can piece together the information.)

*Look at the does’ right ears (on your left).

Mariton: Rhodies are Blooming

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.

Rhododendron blossoms

Rhododendron blossoms

One of the things I consider a “natural wonder” of Mariton is the blooming of the Rhododendrons (Rhododendron maximum).  This native “rhody” holds soils on the steep slopes below the Main and Chimney Rock Trails.  Besides being steep this section has a northeasterly aspect making it a little cooler and darker.  The rhodies love it.  It is tough to get a photo that shows all the blossoms on the hillside, but it is spectacular in person.

A riot of rhodies.

A riot of rhodies.

The native doesn’t bloom until late June, unlike the rhododendrons planted in yards . Right now there are still lots of flower buds that haven’t opened, so I think they will look nice into early July.  Every year I anticipate the blooming.   How many blossoms will open each year is unpredictable (at least for me).  I have been watching these trees for over 20 years and still haven’t figured out why some years every tree is covered with flowers, and other years there are only a few blossoms scattered across a forest full of Rhododendrons.  Another reason it is a natural wonder for me.

If you visit to behold the spectacle I recommend walking out the Woods Trail to the Main Trail, and then follow the Chimney Rock Trail for a ways. You will be able to put your face right into the blossoms without having to stray off the trail, where you might damage other wildflowers.  If you don’t mind the climb, walk down (you will have to walk back uphill) the River Lookout Trail for a view of a hillside of rhodies in bloom.

Mariton: More Trail Cam Photos

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Squirrel Highway

Squirrel Highway

I moved the trail camera about a month ago to another location. I wanted to try a larger opening.  I didn’t think about it at the time, but there was a log lying on the ground directly in front of the camera.  The log is a squirrel highway, and I got lots of photos of squirrels, or the tips of their tails, leaving the picture frame.

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Raccoons and foxes used the log occasionally.

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It isn’t a deer travel area, but I did get a couple photos.

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It was a bonus to capture a small flock of turkeys on the camera.  It wasn’t a total surprise; I had seen a lot of turkey sign in the area.

Mariton: Another Snow Time Lapse

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

These two photos show red foxes in the snow.  The first shot was taken on January 13 after we had a dusting of snow.

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The second was taken on January 26 at 2:00 a.m.  This fox is taking advantage of a trail made by a deer  around 9:00 p.m. on January 25.

Mariton: Snow Time Lapse

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Dan Barringer’s blog post featuring his trail cam photos reminded me that I hadn’t checked my camera for awhile. Dan’s shows how a little snow can really change the landscape.

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First, a photo before the storm.

When I checked my photos I saw another dramatic change. With warm weather, the snow shrank in the woods.  The following photos show the snow compaction in a time lapse.  The deer are different, but they are standing in the same place, so you can watch the snow dissolve before your eyes.  I brightened the night photos to make details a little easier to see.

This was the first photo on the trail after the snow storm.  It was taken at 1:30 a.m. January 25.  That was about 24 hours after the snow storm stopped.  Notice how deep the snow is on the buck’s hocks.

The above photo was taken before midnight on January 27.  Close to 72 hours after the other photo.

This last photo was taken at 4:30 p.m. on January 29.

 

 

 

 

Mariton: Another Interesting Capture

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Screech Owl

Screech Owl

This Screech Owl was captured by the trail camera on Christmas Eve.  There is no way of knowing from this photo if it is on a meal.  Perhaps it captured a mouse or other small mammal.  It is just off of a game trail that is used by all sorts of animals including deer, foxes and raccoons.  There are a lot of oak trees in this area, so a small mammal could have been looking for acorns on the warm evening.

If it wasn’t for the reflection of the eye, I would have overlooked this photo.  In black and white, the owl blends right into its background.  A few weeks back I wrote about my wife, Maureen’s encounter with an owl.  The photos in that blog entry showed the owl’s color, but I noted that the owl probably thought it was invisible.  In the photo above, you can see what the owl’s prey sees – and why it feels invisible at night.

I think these two encounters are reminders that it is important to protect wild habitats for creatures that we don’t see, as well as the more charismatic species.

Mariton: Hidden Camera

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

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I recently took a deer carcass to a remote area of the preserve and set up the game camera to capture which animals exploit the windfall of protein, fat and calcium.  I can’t take credit for the photography.  The camera has a motion activated trigger.  (On windy days there are a lot of empty frames.)  Here are the best raccoon photos.

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It is tough to get a good photo of a Red Fox. They always come out a little blurred.  (Most of the photos of foxes are just a blur with a “tell tail“.   They are always in motion, but I also believe they really do sense the camera’s presence. These are probably the best photos I have from dozens of blurry shots.

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This Red-tailed Hawk doesn’t seem to mind the company of Turkey Vultures.

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I plan to keep the camera at this location for a few weeks to watch the composition of species, as well as the decomposition of the carcass.  I will be interested if in time it attracts a coyote (they’re uncommon at Mariton) or perhaps a Bald Eagle.  I am not sure if the motion detector is sensitive enough to pick up Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and other small songbirds.  I’ve watched them feed on carcasses in the past, so I know they will feed here.  It will also be interesting to see which animals chew the bones for the marrow and calcium.

 

 

 

 

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