Sunday, December 1, 2019

Tam Cam November 2019

We finally got some rain the last week of November. I knew I'd be out of town during that week of Thanksgiving, and I knew rain was in the forecast. Nevertheless, I risked leaving one of the trail cameras near a pool of water, figuring no amount of rain was going to raise the creek enough to cause any problems. And when I went to retrieve the camera, both the pool and camera looked pretty much as they had the week before, except that now there was a little mat of soaked bay laurel leaves on top of the camera. Did they fall from above? I removed the leaves and opened the camera to find that water had gotten inside the battery compartment, and the cam would not power up.

My first thought was that these inexpensive Foxelli trail cams had failed their first real test of exposure to a drenching rain, but when I checked the other two cams that had been out in the same area, they were fine. What I think happened is the level of the pool rose just enough during the night of the big rain that the camera went underwater. Maybe the mat of bay laurel leaves didn't fall from above, but actually settled on the camera after floating above it. The microSD card was pretty much toast, but did record several very short video clips. Although the camera is set to run video for 20 seconds after snapping two still photos, each clip only recorded for about 3 seconds. No stills were recorded at all.

The only other snag is that somehow the datestamp in one of the cams changed to July! Something I'll have to double-check when I swap batteries in the future....

Early in the month I placed two cams down by Redwood Creek between Muir Woods and Muir Beach, and finally caught my first possum. The possum has a brief tussle with a raccoon at one point. A large tree branch falls into the middle of the frame without tripping the camera, and a gray fox scampers through the frame with what appears to be a brush rabbit in its mouth. The other location turned up raccoons, a fox, a coyote, and a bobcat that clawed the base of a tree. I had set that cam on what I thought was a game trail that crosses a seasonal creek, but all the animals were caught using the dry creekbed itself as their preferred route.

I pulled the Redwood Creek cam about halfway through the month since I wasn't sure I'd still be able to reach it if it rained enough to get the creek going.

My favorite footage comes at the beginning and the end of this month's video. After seeing the route a bobcat took in October, I set up two cams in the hope of catching closer views of it ambling up the creek bed, then jumping up on the fallen tree that spans the creek. I ended up capturing a fox with the two-cam set-up instead. The bobcat did finally appear near the end of the month, but it took a slightly different route up the creekbed, and after it jumped up onto the fallen tree it turned in the opposite direction that I'd planned for, so still no bobcat close-up.

Thankfully the wet season has finally arrived. Walking in the woods finally feels and sounds right. The loamy forest floor is spongy again, and footfalls can be silent. Out on Bolinas Ridge, though, the hills are still as brown as can be. I made a smartphone snap on the last day of the month, after checking on the trail cams:

After checking on the cams earlier in the month, my wife and I did a little hike that took us past a swing that someone has roped to a bay laurel on Bolinas Ridge. The bonus was finding a trio of musicians playing into the wind:

And finally, on the way back from our Thanksgiving stay in Mendocino, we stopped for veggie burgers at Amy's Drive Thru in Rohnert Park. I snagged a cup lid and a fork that are stamped as "compostable" and have set them in my little urban garden beneath my native hazelnut tree (I put the deer antlers in the ground when I planted the then-tiny hazel several years ago; it's now taller than I am). I'll be interested to see how the plastics fare over the winter, especially compared with a hazel leaf:


I pulled the fork and drink lid out of the garden soil on Nov. 25, 2020. Neither seemed any worse for the wear after being buried in the dirt for a year.

Both items could have been re-used in virtually new condition after being rinsed with water. Nice lesson showing that compostable isn't the same as biodegradeable. 

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