Dec 21


Posted: under Wildlife.
Tags: , ,  December 21st, 2008

Observing wildlife–and the sign they leave behind–is one of the satisfactions of having some land. It’s also a necessary part of our wildlife management program. Census is one of the seven essential activities under the Texas Parks & Wildlife private lands wildlife program.

This makes sense–if you don’t know what you have, or (roughly) how many of it, you can’t manage it very well.

Cameras help with observation even when the animal isn’t there: photographing tracks, scat, nests, etc., can document the presence of something you don’t often (or ever!) see. So can simple interventions. We discovered that animals regularly used the paths we mowed for ourselves and the planks we put across muddy dips for our own convenience. In wet weather, they left footprints; they often left scat. One great horned owl neatly dropped two regurgitated owl pellets onto one plank. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec 20

Food: who eats what

Posted: under Activities, photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , ,  December 20th, 2008

Robberfly taking a large dragonfly

Robberfly taking a large dragonfly

I’ve started working on a long-term project to define who eats what and is eaten by whom. Published sources are not as much help as you might think, since they’re not really local and the local mix of food sources varies from both historical record (we have different plants, in different proportions, and thus different proportions of animals for the meat-eaters to prey on) and from published sources set in a different area.

It’s being every bit as difficult I suspected it would be. Critters do not all come and pose in front of the camera with an array of their food sources so consumption can be documented. Nor are they limited to the foods we put out. Killing a lot of native critters to do stomach content analyses (a very accurate way of finding out what *that* individual ate, but non-reproducible in that individual) isn’t something I want to do, or have the time and expertise to do anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

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