Wildlife Neighbors

There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.

~Linda Hogan

I recently bought another trail camera and have been putting them out in our woods the past few weeks trying to document who shares our 14 acres. I look for game trails and natural junctures (like our creek bed), placing the cameras on trees for a couple of days, and then retrieving the images. It is always a thrill to see what triggered the cameras and when. I’m also starting to look for places where there has been obvious recent activity, like the pileated log from my last post. Of course, the photographer in me wishes the images were a higher quality, but the naturalist in me is delighted with what the cameras are recording when the woods are on their own.

By far, the greatest number of captures have been of Eastern Gray Squirrels. Our woods seem extra full of them this year, perhaps due to the extraordinary mast year we have had that produced an abundance of acorns and hickory nuts. There have been many trips that did not record any animal as there is a delay between when teh camera senses movement and when it starts recording. The mouse on the pileated log from the last post is a prime example. During the day, a quick moving squirrel or a bird flying in front of the camera can leave me with nothing but guesses as to what set it off.

Below are some of my favorite captures from the last four weeks of trail cameras (best if viewed full screen) with notes on each…

One of the mystery visitors (what do you think it is?)
I think one of these guys is the culprit from that first clip (I have recorded 4 raccoons at one time on the trail cam, possibly siblings?), Notice the interaction of the two in the background
The second most recorded animal has been White-tailed Deer, with as many as 5 in the field of view at once
I have seen this buck on a couple of cameras, both day and night
This buck is an 8-pointer, but has 5 points on one side and 3 on the other. I have seen this one and the one above bedded down near our fence during daylight recently
This was the first time a coyote was caught on camera. He looks up toward the house before running, so I assume I made some noise like splitting wood or chainsawing a log. The cameras have caught one coyote on several other occasions this past week at night and once have recorded two. We hear them on occasion but I have only seen one on our property with my own eyes..
This is the wildlife neighbor I have enjoyed seeing the most. It has been caught 3 times now on camera. Before this, we had only ever seen tracks in the snow. The black legs (especially front legs) and lack of a black tail tip is characteristic of a Red Fox (Gray Foxes have black tail tips). This one seems to lack the usual white tail tip of Red Foxes (or it is very faint).

I usually take my camera with me when I go check the trail cameras, but earlier this week I was in a hurry and just wanted to make a quick trip. As I headed down slope, I noticed something through the gray tree trunks. I pulled up my binoculars…it was the Red Fox staring at me. It looked at me for a few seconds and then trotted off down toward the creek. Suddenly, three deer, apparently startled by the fox, came running up toward me. It was a doe and two beautiful bucks (the 6 and 8-pointers shown above). They stopped, looked at me, and may have realized I was without camera, so they gave me a nice pose. I decided to wait another day to retrieve the trail cam footage. I hope the other wildlife neighbors will reveal themselves “in person” some day. In the meantime, I’ll let the trail cams tell me who is out there.

Here is a complete list of species recorded this month:

Eastern Gray Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, mouse (species unknown), Dark-eyed Junco; American Robin, Hermit Thrush, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, White-tailed Deer, Raccoon, Virginia Opossum, Red Fox, Coyote, unidentified moths

12 thoughts on “Wildlife Neighbors

  1. Thanks for always providing delightful wildlife photos and videos. It is a real pleasure to observe wild creatures unhurried and relaxed in a quiet setting.

    • Thanks, Ann. Yes, it is fun being able to see what is happening when the wildlife is not disturbed. Although, I may need to get one of the dark ops cameras that shows no red IR dots, because the coyotes really notice these cameras and are a little spooked by them at night.

  2. Funny you mentioned bumper crop of acorns. We experienced the same thing with our Black Oaks about 60 miles West of South Lake Tahoe. One big Oak branch is over our house and it was constant pinging of falling acorns for weeks. I even got hit a few times outside as they ricochet around.
    What would trigger a nationwide bumper crop?

    • From what I have read, good mast years depend, at least in part, on favorable weather conditions in spring when the flowers form. It can be quite variable, even on a regional scale, so it is interesting to hear you had a bumper crop as well.

  3. It’s great to know al this wildlife it out there. The 8-point buck and the coyote really seemed to be smelling something- perhaps your scent from when you placed the camera?
    We had a coyote cruising along the edge of our deer fence the other day. Have been hearing woodcocks peenting at dusk- will be watching for the mating flights as it warms up.

    • I agree, fascinating to see the critters that have left some sign n our woods. Both of those cameras were set on well used trails in the woods, so it could be my scent they are picking up, or any of a number of other animals. Cool re your woodcock. A great species to have around.

  4. Your videos are fun to watch to see what goes on when the camera is triggered night or day. The buck was extremely wary and the raccoons didn’t seem to mind at all! I will look forward to future videos!

  5. Thanks, Mary Kay. That same buck was pretty unconcerned the other day when he and the 6-pointer were bedded down outside our deer fence, so who knows what they are sensing. But, yeah, the raccoons have shown no concern whatsoever in the many video clips I have of them.

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