Friday, March 14, 2014

A Skunky Mood

This striped skunk has walked by this wildlife camera many times and ignored it. For some reason on this particular night, the striped skunk (presumably the same striped skunk) decided to charge the side of the camera. Was there a strap blowing around? Was the skunk in a testy mood? Was there an animal behind the camera? I don't know, just one of those camtrap mysteries.

It's interesting to see how the skunk does a quick false charge, a standoff, and then a full charge. I don't encounter skunks very often and when I do I stop fast to observe from the distance. Once on the Dipper Ranch at a location close to the one in this video, I had a skunk stomp its front feet and then charge down a hill after me. I didn't stick around to find out what it would do next. Maybe skunks, as rattlesnakes, don't go straight for the big-guns defense (spray or bite, respectively).

I've spent a lot of time this week coordinating with my co-workers and National Park Service colleagues in preparation for the big bioblitz at Golden Gate National Recreational Area on March 28 and 29, 2014. We had an exciting conversation today on where we might encounter river otters, weasels, spotted skunks, ringtails and badgers over that 24-hour period. The National Park Service is even bringing in their Natural Sounds Program team to capture some of the natural sounds during the event including equipment to monitor the presence of bats at night. I didn't even know there was a NPS sound team.

You get a group of biologists together and they usually encourage and learn from each other, and it makes for a great day outdoors. Sometimes there is an element of competition, something I don't respond to well. I'm definitely not a big-guns kinda gal. One of the reasons I like blog-writing is I don't feel like it has to be perfect. I can collect input from others, correct outrageous mistakes, and it's a chance to develop my writing skills. Today I helped a friend set up her own blogsite. Yikes, she is not very familiar with this "whole world-wide web thing" but she has some great stories to tell, so I'm sticking with her. And I enjoy all the adventures and different styles of the other nature bloggers out there too. So even though it will be a muted spring under these drought conditions, there's lots to observe and learn, so let's go. As Miz Booshay says, "Encourage one another." (and it helps to have beautiful children).

Ok, so this is only the second time I have tried to post a video on Blogger. Will it work? Will I go down in flames and not have time to fix it until June? I can't seem to preview videos on Blogger like I can preview a draft post. I was encouraging my new blogging friend all day to just try online writing and not worry about messing up,  I can't cop out now.  . . . so here goes. (be brave, be brave, be brave . . . )


  1. Nice catch of the skunk's threat response. I've noticed similar reactions on occasion from other animals too. I think that sometimes the IR flash is seen and perceived as possibly being the eyeshine of another animal. And then the cam's "face" is also seen. I generally have only caught it with older IR cams, and when set low to the ground and at angles that are similar to animal eye height. And as you say, the same animal will go by the cam a bunch of times ignoring it, and then totally ignore it afterward as well. In some ways I think it's similar to how we might think we catch something out of the corner of our eye and look to check it out, only to find it was nothing.

  2. When a skunk in my yard encountered the cam trap at a low level, it turned around and left the area. Probably too resource-rich a neighborhood to attack an interloper. I also once frightened a deer with a low camera next to a trail. The deer started to turn around, but finally got up the courage to walk past the glowing red rectangle of death, giving it quite a look of scorn as it did so.

  3. ooh, your commenters have GREAT theories. Like it. Super interesting video. Poor little guy! =) SUPER cute, though.


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