So, I decided to place the camera under a bridge in the park. That's one place I've never tried before and I thought it might be interesting to see what life is like down there.
Some of you who are geocachers know this bridge. Other than pursuing an elusive geocache, I can't imagine why anyone would go down there.
Anyway, I didn't find any trolls. I did find some chipmunks, rabbits, raccoon, foxes, grackles, great blue herons, cardinals, and squirrels. The great blue heron and raccoon especially caught my fancy.
I thought it might be fun to combine the short video clips that I captured, and combine them into two short movies.
....I finally cracked it this time. I really did.
I found the place in the park with almost no wildlife.
I have had a camera in a location for about two weeks. It was set to take a picture every five minutes throughout the day, and also to take a picture if it senses movement. That's thousands of pictures.
So, no doubt you're asking what I found?
Two birds in flight
Several insects in flight
That it. No squirrels, raccoon, fox--nor any people.
That's the quietest two weeks I've ever recorded in the park.
This was fun for a couple weeks. Even though the ending is a tad disappointing, which is my fault.
My wife saw an eastern cottontail in our back yard about the first of June. It appeared to be digging a nest.
I put a camera in the yard and captured several photographs of the rabbit.
As you can see, the rabbit is over the nest at various times through the day and night. Petty cool. The nest is about 4 inches deep, with an entrance hole perhaps two inches in diameter. It's lined with fur that the mother takes from her belly. To tell you the truth, it looks to me an awful lot like dryer lint.
And then I captured something that seemed scary at the time. Several birds raided the nest and took fur, presumably to use in their own nests.
I thought this might mean that the rabbits were dead for some reason. But I was wrong. The mother continued to nurse her young for several days. They nurse only once a day, and at various times. I presume this is to make it harder for predators to track and find the nest; what humans call operational security.
Nursing takes several minutes, and looks like this....
And now for the disappointing part. Sorry.
That is the last event I captured of the mother feeding. I never did capture the babies; I think because the camera batteries were getting to weak to operate the camera. Oops. Sorry.
Anyway, there is no evidence that the babies were predated, so I assume they successfully fledged, and are out being rabbits somewhere in Rodgers Forge.
This is what the nest looks like after being abandoned. Please note that I pulled the grass back from the hole so you can see it better. When it was in use, the mother kept the grass pulled together tightly over the nest, making it harder to see.
And I have noticed more rabbits out and about in the neighborhood this year than usual. I assume the hawks will soon make the same observation. Could be a decent fall for hawks in the area. More later.
While the camera captured several animals again this week, I was especially struck by a red fox that seemed to visit the area several times. At least, I assume it's the same fox, There are several fox in Cromwell Valley Park so it is possible that more than one frequents this area along Minebank Run.
Early in the week, I captured the fox making its rounds, such as in this video.
A couple days later the camera captured this interesting behavior. The fox has killed what appears to be a mouse, perhaps a vole. And it's playing with it. For a long time. The first video was filmed at 05:58 and the third at 08:25. That's over two hours of this behavior. I've no way of knowing how many breaks the fox may have taken in its play.
And while I call this play, I do realize that it is more than simple play. The fox is practicing and refining its hunting skills.
Speaking of hunting skills--some owls and hawks are able to kill and eat red foxes. Wow.
It's a beautiful spring. Go outside and enjoy some of it.
So, many of you probably know this, but the coyote population has been growing in Maryland as the animals expand their range from west to east. They now are certainly in Cromwell Valley Park.
Indeed, this migration is a fascinating thing. Taking advantage of the changes to their environment made by human activity, the coyotes have moved east--and they've bred with wolves while doing that. (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0806_020806_coyote.html)
This is bad news for the red fox population, as coyotes tend to take over the habitat, and force the foxes to the fringes of their territory. (http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1039&context=coyotesw. https://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/f2013/eidensch_matt/interactions.htm)
And as you can see from the photographs below, there is now at least one coyote in Cromwell Valley Park. These photographs were captured on the west side of Minebank Run, about 120 meters north of the Sherwood Farm Bridge.
There is a report of another coyote sighting recently in the park. If any of you have any photographs or sighting reports, I'd like to see them. Perhaps we can get some idea of the population numbers, and whether or not there is breeding activity occurring.
It's going to be fascinating to see what happens in the future.
Coyote's aren't the only animals active in the park. There also are red fox, raccoon, deer, squirrels, rabbits, robins, northern flickers, and mourning doves.