Thanks to an equipment loan from WildMetro, during the past six weeks we’ve had a set of eight motion-sensitive ‘game cameras’ arrayed around the Valley. These are cameras that are triggered to take a photograph when something warm passes in front of them, and are a nifty way of studying local wildlife. You can see more photos at our wildlife camera web page. We thought that this week would be a good week to review our snap shots, little did we know….
Let’s start with a camera we have placed on the border of a brushy pasture. Here are some recent shots: (please ignore the time/date stamp on each shot – those malfunction notoriously)
a squirrel (bushy tail at the bottom)....
... Santa Claus...Santa Claus?... Santa Claus!... We quickly called in our lip reader so that we could add 'audio'; he provided the following transcription: "Ach, these special deliveries. Tell me Elf, where to next?"
Elf: "Wait Santa, I'll find where we're going." Santa: "Let me find the box, maybe it has an address. My poor back (mumbled)"
Elf: "Let's see, here's the address,which way is North? Ohh, if he'd only buy a GPS."
Elf: "I got it! It's right over there!" Santa: "OK, let's get movin'; my belly's grumbling."
That was all we recorded from that camera (other than a couple hundred shots of a branch blowing in the wind). So we moved on to check the camera down along the Creek.
Wow, that's cool. Look's like a Coyote. It's taking a gander at the sheep pen.
a few more deer...
Hey, it's the chubby guy and his colorful friend again. Let's listen in - Elf: "I'm sure it's around here."
Elf: "Ahh, yes. Just follow me Santa!" Santa: (grunt) "Coming, coming."
Elf: "Or maybe it was this way."
Santa: "Now where are you going?"
Elf: "What's that funny thing tied to the fence post?"
Elf: "Hello, anybody home?" Santa: "Hello? Hello? ,,,, Darn security cameras, never are very good about giving directions."
And that was it for that camera. I hope those blokes find their way, they seem to be hogging the show. Anyway, on up to the top of Phudd Hill.
Ah yes, here we are at the top of Phudd Hill, plenty of deer...
You know if I had legs like that I wouldn't be such a show off.
and the usual squirrel...
more skinny legs... but at least no sign of the big red guy...
suppose there are antlers?
Oh no.... Elf: "I'm sure we were supposed to turn left at the pine tree." Santa: ''My poor feet. Now look, isn't that the place way over here?"
Elf: "Long distance transport - this means it's time to hitch up Rudolf and fly over!"
Elf: "See Santa? A perfect Reindeer - we'll be there in no time!" Santa: "Great. Just great."
(Read for yourself.) Evidently, the sun went behind some clouds and the camera switched to B&W mode.
Elf: "Hey Santa, there's another one of those friendly boxes." Santa: "Let me just help you out of this silly costume old boy."
Elf: (off camera, we have terrific lip reader working for us) "This way Santa, I'm sure now." Santa: "Where did I put my emergency chocolate?"
And that was all we found at that site. Hopefully, they are now on their way, and we can focus on sharing a little bit of info. about local wildlife. Our next camera is located on the steep side of Phudd Hill.
There's a coon. We've been getting some good photos of them lately. They only sort of hibernate; this one is obviously out trying to put on some fat.
Wow! A fisher! Our first picture of a fisher here in the Valley. These are large cousins of the mink, they range hither and yon, pursuing their diets of small mammals. Let's see if we can turn up the lights...
Sure enough. These are fast, sleek, tree climbers. Let's see if we get a better shot...
Oh no, not again.... Elf: "It's right this way Santa."
Elf: "Errr, I think." Santa: (voice lowering) "Elf. Elf! ELF!"
Elf: "Was that Route 21? Route 21C? or Route 217?"
Elf: "What do you mean, 'climb a tree and look around?'. Elves don't climb trees!" Santa: "Oh yes they do!"
Santa: "Get the binos and up you go!" Elf: (erk!) "Gee, I guess they do climb trees."
Santa: "Up you go!"
Santa: "See anything up there?"
Santa: " Dratted Hat! What was that you said?"
Elf: "I said, 'I think I'm slipping...'" Santa: "Umomph! Off! Get off!"
Elf: "Oh but I saw the place. It's right over!" Santa: (groan) "Right, let's go. Elves (mumble), elves (mumble, mumble... this is a family rated blog you understand)"
Gosh, I hope they’re done and we can finally get down to some serious wildlife watching. The last camera of this little (somewhat interrupted) tour is along the path by one of the vegetable fields. It’s a path for both people and wildlife. Early in the summer, we photographed a bobcat here.
Cats; we get lots of shots of house cats out on the prowl...
Ah yes, and those chipper little squirrels; trying to pack it in while the sun shines...
Elf: "Yep, this is it alright. See, elves have natural homing ability." Santa: "Yes, and dogs can fly (more mumbling)"
By special arrangement with a local news crew, we were able to actually find these two as they were finishing their delivery and bring you the following exclusive photographs (who’s interested in seeing more deer photos anyway?)
Elf: (Whispering) "See, there's the tree." Santa: "Did they lock the sliding door?" Elf: "No matter, elves have nimble fingers."
Santa: "Right-O. and a ho - ho. Let's get this job done; I've got thunder in my belly" Elf: "Shhhhh!"
Santa: "There's the box." Elf: "Got it!"
Santa: "And one styrofoam dinosaur egg." Elf: "I think they call those footballs Santa." Santa: "Whatever."
And, as night finished falling 'or the Vally, the happy duo walked off into the night, with many a jolly chuckle and a sprinkling of holiday good cheer... Santa: "The Diner Elf! How far to the Diner?"
So from our tree to yours, May you all enjoy the holidays, however you celebrate them; and may 2012 bring peace, health, and happiness whoever delivers it!