Showing posts with label ringtail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ringtail. Show all posts

June 22, 2018

A New Site for Ringtails

Some years ago my friend John S. was telling me about a backpacking trip he had made into the Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area in northeastern Fremont County in southern Colorado.

During the night, he said, a noise at his campsite awakened him. He flicked on his flashlight and found a "skinny raccoon" trying to get into his pack.

"That was a ring-tailed cat," I said, using the common nickname. (They are not really felines, and in fact they are related to raccoons.)

It was a case of being book-smart rather than speaking from experience. Truth is, I have never seen one one of these nocturnal "skinny raccoons" in the wild, despite all the nights that M. and I spent hiking around places like Beaver Creek SWA in the mid-1990s when we were censusing owls for the Bureau of Land Management.
They forage exclusively at night, feeding on mice, birds and insects. They are slim enough to hunt woodrats in their dens. Frequently they hunt in pairs and in autumn forage as family groups. Ringtails have efficient kidneys and may not need to drink, thriving instead on the moisture in their prey (Colorado Parks and Wildlife).
Gray foxes are nocturnal too, but I spot one now and again, most recently last week while walking the dog at 10 p.m. Not these guys. I did get some blurry images on a camera at one location, but it is not a location that I care to use anymore.

So the new summer project is to find them on our property, and I just succeeded this past week. Not much of an image, but now I know they are there and can try different camera sets.

November 02, 2014

Two Ringtails and a Weasel Went to a Waterhole

Last spring I wrote about my first scout camera photo of a ringtail, which was something of a trophy, in that they are secretive and nocturnal.

On Wednesday last I picked up the camera at Camera Trap Spring, closing the site for the winter, and found that two ringtails had visited that spot as well in early October.

Unfortunately, they were right at the edge of definition for the infrared flash — the batteries may have been weakening too — but I was still delighted to see them.

It is a weasel, and apparent size suggests a short-tailed weasel (ermine). But I did not think to place a vertical ruler by the water source. Any mavens of Mustelidae out there want to make a definite identification?

UPDATE: The Camera Trap Codger, who is an actual wildlife biologist, opts for long-tailed weasel in his comment — which is what I sort of thought too until I argued myself out of it.

April 11, 2014

Ringtail: Another Blurry Scout Camera Trophy

12:14 a.m., April 10, 2014
This photo might not look like much, but it is a trophy for me in my sporadic camera-trapping — my first ringtail (Bassariscus astutus). Some people call them "ring-tail cats," but they are not in the cat family, although they are a little cat-like. 

Some years ago a friend was describing a backpacking trip into a wilderness study area in eastern Fremont County, Colo. "I woke up, and there was a skinny raccoon trying to get into my pack!" he said.

That was a ringtail.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Division's page for ringtails says "most sightings are ne water," which this location is not, being on a slope covered with oak brush, boulders, and scattered pines, but the locale is good for woodrats, and as CPW's page also states,  "They are slim enough to hunt woodrats in their dens."

My first goal was to get a photo of a mountain lion — and it is time to take a camera back to that spring — but I was not sure how to proceed with ringtails.

Last winter I discovered this "alcove" between a big boulder and a crude dry-stone drift fence that some cowboy(s) worked hard to build decades ago — stone walls are pretty rare in this country. The area is covered with the usual Gambel oak and ponderosa pine. 

Gray foxes pass through there all the time, along with the occasional turkey and skunk. So I think that I will leave a camera there semi-permanently and see if the ringtails come back.