|The first time a bobcat goes by the camera in this time period is November 12 near first light.|
"What animal left this mark?" we wondered. Especially since the scrape was unusually shaped, more of a square than a rectangle, and with a long narrow scat at the back.
"No problem," I said, "I've got a wildlife camera mounted just uphill. We'll check which animal went by after the rain five days ago and then we'll know."
Ten different types of animals went by the camera in November and December 2015, many revealing distinct patterns to their travels. Here they are in general order from small to large size.
California quail, Callipepla californica - a covey of nine shows up once in the daytime.
Red-shouldered hawk, Buteo lineatus - lands on the right side of the trail one day and then quickly flies off. The strong white-black checks on its back indicate what type of hawk this is.
Dusky-footed woodrat, Neotoma fuscipes - appears 5 times*, nighttime only, jumping across the trail with its long tail out.
Western Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus- appears 6 times, daytime only, usually poking through the thick pile of Douglas fir cones on the ground.
Striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis - wanders by five times at night, sometimes traveling towards the camera and sometimes away.
Brush rabbit, Sylvilagus bachmani - the most frequent visitor, appears 26 times and always at night. Two rabbits occur together on one night. Browsing or sitting across the field of view, each rabbit photo series usually starts or ends with the rabbit on the right-hand side of the trail indicating its shelter occurs in the tangled understory there.
|One rabbit on right-hand side of trail.|
|Two rabbits on the trail.|
Bobcat, Lynx rufus - a bobcat passes by the camera seven times in six weeks at night, dusk or dawn. There are probably two different bobcats that use this route. Notice in the photos below that the right eye of one bobcat does not reflect eyeshine to the camera's LED lights (12/4 and 12/13). That eye may have a cataract or otherwise be injured.
|This is the bobcat which appears to have an injured right eye.|
Puma, Puma concolor - passes by the camera on only one night in this November-December period. It has a distinct dot on its right muzzle and both its ears looked nicked on their tips. The dot may be a tick and may or may not show up in future photos. I looked through my hundreds of photos of pumas on this and adjacent properties and did not see any that clearly showed the eartip nicks.
I think the scrape was probably made by a bobcat whose smaller paw didn't budge the stick. Maybe the one-eyed bobcat is unbalanced and leaves lopsided scrapes. In any event, I will keep photographing and measuring scrapes for future comparison, especially if I have a wildlife camera nearby.
Which animal do you think left this scrape?
*Any observation of the same species separated by more than one hour is considered a separate observation.