Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 3 at the Hole

After sending the pictures of the weasel and the groundhog from the voyeuristic game camera to our naturalist Jay Barber, he suggested that we contact him when we got pictures of a mountain lion at the burrow.  It turns out that we are part way there.

The morning after the groundhog showed up, a busy gray squirrel explored the hole at 8:31 AM, but didn't stick around.  There is an overhanging walnut tree as well as multiple hickories along the other lane and he seemed to be out collecting.  It is possible that he thought the hole was deserted and a good place to hide a nut.

Breakfast Nut

At 9:22 AM, a fox squirrel passed by within a foot of the hole, pausing for pictures before hauling off a nut for breakfast.  It seemed to ignore the hole, intent on its mission.  This field has a large population of fox squirrels which had a very successful breeding season this year.  It is seldom that we ride down the lane without having one dart out.

On October 3rd an armadillo showed up for a picture at 6:00 PM, crawling partway down into the burrow opening.  At least one armadillo had babies this year along this stretch of the 1833 Ozark Mail Trace Road.  By now, it is hard to know if this is the adult or one of the kids that have grown.  It showed up again at the burrow around 10:00 PM as seen on the infrared camera picture below.  

Early this summer we traced one of the young armadillos quadruplets to a burrow just a hundred feet away from this burrow.  We watched as the youngsters would dart in and out of the hole, running down the road in front of our ATVs.  The burrow was conveniently located in the thick hedgerow adjacent to the field overgrown with forbs and weeds.
The news at ten
Summertime teenager

Animals frequently appropriate holes left by other species so it is unclear if this was the armadillo's property or if it was just house hunting.  If it belonged to the groundhog there would just be an amusing little confrontation between two vegetarians.  If it belongs to the weasel, the groundhog might be on the menu.

Bobcat sniffing the hole
On October 4th a whole new breed of cat showed up around 2:30 AM.  There isn't an outside domestic cat within a mile and we haven't spotted any dropped off strays recently.  Its tail is difficult to see from this view.  It was relatively large compared to the other animals photographed from the same fixed game camera, much bigger than a house cat.  My diagnosis, a bobcat, looking for dinner.
Sniffing the camera
The bobcat, apparently curious about the camera, came up for a sniff and super closeup.  There is a lot more nightlife out there than we imagined so it should have some good eating opportunities.  That is unless a coyote or gets there first.   If we get many more species showing up we may have to put in a stop light on the road.  Who knows, Jay may get his mountain lion yet!

More on animal burrows can be found at this National Geographic site.
An extensive resource on burrowing behaviors is in this pdf from Current Mammology.

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