Friday, April 12, 2024

Big Bear Only In Cover of Darkness

 


Massachusetts fisher scent post activity has slowed down in April. In this video I have  summarized this year’s Fisher highlights. Included are several fisher behaviors that were learned by me camera trapping. Last winter tracking a fisher, two active scent posts were located sixty feet apart. I identified them as a    “ Primary” & “Secondary “ scent post. I didn’t think the two scent posts being in such close proximity of each other would stay active. The graphs at the end of the video show the activity.

 

It has been another good week hiking in the Massachusetts woods. While kneeling to change out SD cards , I looked across the small beaver pond and a bear was foraging along the shoreline. I tried to video it with my GoPro camera, but it was to far away. It was interesting watching the bear as it foraged for food, then stopping dead in its tracks when locating a bear scent tree. It stood up , turned with its back against the tree and started doing what I call the “ The Bear Jig.” This consists of deep knee bends and rubbing its back up and down the tree. It did this for three or four minutes, then laying at the base of the tree. I guess this might have been to rest after the vigorous rubbing activity. After a few minutes’ resting, the bear moved on as it continued to search for food. Watching the bear scent marking was interesting and the bear identified a scent marking tree. A trail camera was set and hopefully more bears will leave there scent travelling through the area. Stay tuned.

Fisher scent post activity has slowed down; however, a male fisher has freshened the scent post twice in April. I’ll leave TC’s for the month.

https://youtu.be/59A6WMamdic

Bear activity continues to increase. The first sow of the Spring with three yearlings passed by a camera trap in the cover of darkness. The video is what I call an evidence vid, it’s low light and doesn’t make for a good show and tell.

The biggest bear so far this year ( cover pic) has triggered the same trail camera five times over three weeks. All have been at night. It’s a beautiful big bear, I hope I’m lucky enough to have him pass the TC during the day.

I did get out in my kayak this week with a camera in hopes to get a few pics of migratory ducks. Nothing yet !

Jim


Thursday, April 4, 2024

Bear # 4 - So Early in The Spring

 

An eventful week to say the least! It started while hiking back to an area that has shown considerable bear sign this Spring. Enough so, that additional trail cameras were packed in. Bushwhacking along, I watched a distant moose canter along the open hardwoods. Certainly, a wonderful way to start the morning. Reaching the area with all the bear activity and kneeling to set up the first trail camera . I felt like I was being watched. Looking up , their stood a moose, thirty yards away, staring at me! Neat and a bit concerning. I stood up, took a few steps, and the moose went on its way. A few minutes later I looked behind me and there stood the moose watching me again. I was glad it didn’t keep following me. Continuing along the swamp edge, movement eighty yards or so out caught my eye. A  bear was foraging, it wasn’t long before the light breeze carried my scent and the bear vanished into the swamp. Two more TC’s were set, and it was time to head out. Reaching a cart road and rounding the corner, a second bear of the morning walked slowly away from me. I watched it for a minute or so before it wandered into a thick area heading towards a hardwood ridge.

Also, this week ,I went to pull the two Fisher scent post trail cameras and was surprised to see that both a male and female had freshened the scent post. I figured scent post marking was over, given it has been sixteen days since the prior  scent post visit. Last year, activity stopped on March 17th. It will be interesting to see when activity stops this year.

Late Wednesday ( before Thursday snow) bushwhacking to check trail cameras, a second deer antler was found. This one is unique (pic). It appears to have shed the winter of 2023. It was still in decent shape, with only a few chew marks from mice.



So, all and all, it was an eventful week in the woods.

With lots of effort and even more luck, my  Browning  Elite HP4 trail camera (Massachusetts) won the 2024 Trailcampro Video Contest. The contest rules were unique animal behavior and video quality. Who would ever believe a bear would behave as this one did in front of a trail camera? https://youtu.be/lsEZ-n4Zt-M

The cover picture bear is the forth different bear. The 2024 bear activity is starting out strong. In early April Sow’s with yearlings should start showing up on trail cameras then late April early May Sow’s with COY.

Jim


Friday, March 29, 2024

More and More Bears Showing UP On TCs

 



Last week after watching two otters preen and rub their scent on top of grass hummocks, I repositioned the trail camera just in case they returned. My efforts paid off with two minutes of wonderful otter footage. I included a snip below.

The cover pic is a young bull. I’m surprised to see he still has his antlers this late in March.

I’ll be pulling the Fisher sets this weekend. Scent post activity has stopped. A female really worked her scent back in mid-March I thought for sure a male would have responded to her last scent post coverage.

A hike this week to check the ledge camera trap sets turned out to be quite an eventful trip. The SD cards had two bobcats passing an opening that possibly could become a den site. Or at least that’s what I thought until I saw bear footage. Not that a bear would be out of the question in this spot, I just didn’t think I would ever capture a bear along this ledge transition line. 



Camera traps also videoed deer mice , chipmunks, and several gray squirrels. A paradise for a bobcat.

Jim



Saturday, March 23, 2024

Spring Trail Cameras All Set

 


What a transformation Scat Swamp has been through since the two beaver dams breached last August. Torrential rains collapsed the primary dam which in tun washed away the secondary dam (shown in the pic above).  The beavers built a new smaller lodge and rebuilt the secondary dam. The new dam has an abundance of sticks that are interlocked  and will be much sturdier than the prior dam. Last week a bobcat used the dam on three occasions. Hopefully, the new beaver dam becomes a bridge for a variety of wildlife.



I had a wonderful otter experience this week, As I walked up to an active beaver lodge  two otters were approaching. Standing motionless the two otters climbed up onto  grass hummocks a short distance from me . For twenty minutes they chattered , preened, played, and napped. My trail camera was set to monitor the lodge and didn’t catch the otters, oh well , it was an awesome experience, 



Finally found a decent eight-point deer shed while checking trail cameras this week. With little snow this winter it was ideal conditions to search for antlers. Three months of bushwhacking gave up two old, chewed antlers (one moose , one deer) before finding the eight-point shed this week.

After visiting Urgent Care and getting a script for steroids my poison Ivy has cleared up. Hope not to do that again !

Jim


Sunday, March 17, 2024

First 2024 MA Camera Trapped Bear

 

Last week I had one of those AWSOME camera trapping days, capturing my first 2024 Massachusetts bear on video. It is a fantastic way to start  with the onset of spring. Skunk cabbage has started to sprout in the local wetlands, A bears first greens. Hopefully, it will not be long be videoing sows with cubs.

Fishers are still visiting the scent post site. It will be interesting to see when the activity tapers off.

I was able to set more camera traps for bears this week. While doing so, I encountered poison ivy. Not sure where or how , but I managed to rub my face and eyes with it. That was a guaranteed trip to Urgent Care!! I am now back to wearing gloves when setting trail cameras. There are  several locations I still need to set cameras up. I will get them set next week.

Waterfowl are migrating north; it is an enjoyable time to be out with your camera. I loaded up the kayak, camera gear and headed out to a local hotspot yesterday. There were plenty of ducks, but unfortunately fog did not lift early enough. I will give it another try soon.

Jim

Morning camera trapping

https://youtu.be/4qeNZ0awrDw

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Massachusetts Bears Soon Will Be On The Move

 




Camera trapping bobcats over the winter was a fun project. In addition to bobcats investigating beaver lodges , coyotes were also frequent visitors. I was able to pull a  nice picture ( cover pic -  video grab) of an Eastern Coyote.

The lodge in the picture ended up attracting more wildlife over the winter than any of the other five lodges.

Last week was the start of setting  camera traps for emerging bears. With warm temperatures in the forecast, no doubt bears will be on the move. Unfortunately, the nicer weather also brings TICKS. I have already pulled them off my cloths. Time to spray cloths with Permethrin .

The heavy rains sure are playing havoc setting and checking camera traps around beaver ponds. I’ve added hip boots to my pack. I needed them last week and with the heavy rain last night, surely will need them next week.

A bobcat has presented an interesting challenge for me. The cat is using a downed tree in the outflow of a breached beaver dam as a staging platform before jumping across turbulent water . A camera trap was set in efforts to catch the bobcat airborne.

Jim

 

Friday, March 1, 2024

Camera Trapping Massachusetts Bobcat's

 

My  Massachusetts winter bobcat camera trapping project is complete. It consisted of monitoring  six beaver lodges, (four active and two abandoned) in efforts to learn more about bobcat behavior around beaver lodges, and  the frequency they visited  beaver lodges. The project goals were to  set camera traps  during January & February, this would provide 360 camera trapping days. ( 60 days x 6 lodges = 360 trapping days. Over those sixty days the hope  ( my fingers crossed) was to capture at least thirty-six videos of bobcats on or near beaver lodges. Then, with a bit of luck there will be at least four interesting captures and one unique capture. There were variables .Setting specific numbers may prove unreasonable. Starting with two weeks during January, there was minimal  or no ice and most of the lodges had exposed water around them. That  prompted me to add one trail camera closer to ab abandon lodge. That addition ended up a GOOD DECISION with  excellent footage captured. My point with sharing that information  is after setting camera trap(s) at a location. they may  need tweaking to increase your captures.

Over the two-month period camera traps captured twenty-seven  ( 73% expectation ) of bobcats near or at a beaver lodge.

Top Captures for the project were:

-          Bobcat on lodge with snow

-          Bobcat looks into camera.

-          Vocal – two bobcats follow each other.

-          Distant bobcat walks by the lodge, falls out of view of the trail camera, then reappears  scent marks and walks close to camera with beaver lodge in background. This is also the most unique video captured during the project.

All six lodges had at least one bobcat  visit over the two-month period.

 Keeping track of the frequency each bobcat visits to the lodges  identified one lodge as a hotspot. This lodge had fifteen visits ,the best I could determine from four different bobcats.

 

 Project Summary:

I wasn’t surprised to see the level of bobcat activity at beaver  lodges. Most lodges create an ideal habitat for rodents. The bobcat in the first video was impressive with its size. I concluded it was a female with the low riding prom… She has been elusive over the years , capturing her on video twice. One lodge had fourteen visits from four different bobcats. Why would that lodge have drawn more bobcats to it than the other five lodges? It comes down to the location of the lodge in relation to its surroundings. This lodge is just west of a dam that had partially breached last summer. Bobcats could still navigate the dam without getting wet. West of the dam is a steep ridge that naturally  funnels wildlife to the edge of the beaver pond. Once on the edge of the pond the first thing in sight is the beaver lodge. Add stable ice around it you become a magnet for predators.

 Camera Trapping Winter Bobcats in Massachusetts

 

 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for spring  Massachusetts camera trapping projects.

 

Jim