Sunday, September 23, 2012

Summer Water

Vultures checking out the new cattle trough.
Random Truth just posted great photos of bears bathing in cattle water troughs in the Tehachapi Mountains at his Nature of a Man blogsite. Go see them - they're hilarious!

So that got me thinking about two particular water sources at the Dipper Ranch this summer. One is a  spring that leaks out of a cut bank.  Usually, this has a bathtub size pool beneath it but with the reduced amount of rainfall this winter, the spring is barely dripping. By late August, the pool was just mud. So I dug a series of small pools beneath it to provide summer water for the wildlife, and put up a wildlife camera. Visiting this spring pool seems to be a family affair.

Bobcat walking away from the spring pool which is just to the left of this frame.
A big skunk on September 4th.
A little skunk on September 9th.
A little coyote on September 11th.
And a big coyote many hours later on September 11th.
The other summer water source of interest is a new cattle trough in the middle of a pasture.  The new cattle trough actually drove me quite batty this summer as it's run off the house's distribution system and it kept shifting and overflowing, thereby emptying the water tank, clogging the filters, and causing loud "burping" in the WC. In July, I was completely without water for ten days, but we eventually ironed out the bugs and got the system running again for the house, the cattle and the wildlife.

Vultures are kinda picky about where they will take water. They need to be able to dive off the trough and catch air to soar. This trough has a slope beneath it that gave them lift.
Black phoebes can always be found around water.
A European starling visits the trough. First it poses for the camera.
Look closely, do you see the starling's head just peeking up above the near edge of the trough? It is standing on an escape ramp we've designed for these troughs so that small animals can get out.
Here is a starling back on the escape ramp the next day at almost the same time.

I also observed western bluebirds and lesser goldfinches at this trough. I think the cattle-sized trough is too high for other wildlife except deer, so they just have to visit the spring pool or the birdbaths in my yard, which btw, are empty almost every morning.


  1. Nice! 4 vultures in one shot - that must be a preferred waterin' hole. Mine saw 7 or 8 species of birds, but no TVs.

    Btw - if you look at my shots at Big Shaggy's first visit, in the tub near the upright T-post, you can see the critter ramp disappear. Ah, maintenance in bear lands.

  2. New to your blog, and was drawn by your comments left on the bears in the water trough! I am a camera trapper as well, and look forward to seeing what you post!


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