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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kingfisher Chatter

(a blog about Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge)

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Click on the photos below for larger views

Another Deer Kill
On March 9th the Assabet Keeping Tracks (tracking team) surveyed their NW Transect route.  On the 4+ mile snowshoe trek were Andy, Dave, Ceil, Gary & Paulette (the latter two new to AKT).  Early into the route the team came across a fresh deer carcass with obvious signs of a struggle in the snow.  There were lots of coyote tracks over and under the deer tracks.  The deer was likely a yearling. 


Kill site.  The deer appeared to be pinned against the chain-link fence first.  Where it was likely killed.  The deer carcass can be seen on the left side of the photo
Deer carcass as found on March 9th

After the tracking survey was completed, the “Beaver Cam” (aka Trail Cam, Camera Trap, Game Cam, etc.) reported in previous blog posts was removed from the beaver dam site and repositioned on the fresh-kill deer carcass.  This made for a very long day on snowshoes for Gary. 
The Trail Cam is motion-activated camera and has IR flash for night-vision.  Gary uses it for three purposes:


  1. To understand what animals are on the Refuge
  2. Record locations of animal activity
  3. To track habits (such as feeding times/duration of feeding) in hopes of getting some traditional long-lens photographic shots of animal life on the Refuge.


Anatomy of a Trail Cam

Ancillary equipment hauled to the site.  Laptop to download pictures from the Trail Cam's SD card, extra batteries, kneeling pad, camera

The Trail Cam was positioned on the kill site from March 9th until March 20th when the carcass disappeared; presumably carried off by coyote.  Curiously, on March 20th a hiker at the Refuge mentioned that a deer’s leg was found over by Puffer Pond.  I wonder if this is from this same monitored carcass?

Over one thousand pictures were recorded by the Trail Cam.  Fisher, Coyote and Red-tailed Hawk were seen feeding on the deer.  Fisher was photographed day and night.  Coyote was only onsite at night.  Hawk was only feeding during the day.  A dog was recorded on the other side of the chain-linked fence.  Although it tried going under and climbing over, the dog never got to the downed deer.  A good thing too, since dogs are not allowed on the Refuge.  Here are some representative shots from the Trail Cam:


Feeding animals are always vigilant.  Coyote looks over shoulder to ensure that it is a safe environment



In all, over 10 hours of feeding were recorded.  Below is a table of animal camera-captures, feeding onset, feeding finish and feeding duration: 

Animal
First Snap Date
First Snap
(Hrs:Min:Sec)
Last Snap Date
Last Snap
(Hrs:Min:Sec)
Duration
at Site
(Hrs:Min:Sec)
Comments
Fisher
3/9/2104
18:16:27
3/9/2104
18:22:30
0:06:03

Coyote
3/9/2104
18:47:53
3/9/2104
18:48:56
0:01:03

Coyote
3/9/2104
20:01:54
3/9/2104
20:38:38
0:36:44

Coyote
3/10/2104
5:26:25
3/10/2104
6:10:51
0:44:26

Fisher
3/10/2104
9:15:59
3/10/2104
9:16:44
0:00:45

Coyote
3/10/2104
21:30:28
3/10/2104
21:30:32
0:00:04

Coyote
3/11/2104
2:16:42
3/11/2104
2:53:28
0:36:46

Coyote
3/11/2104
5:39:32
3/11/2104
5:58:23
0:18:51

Red-Tailed
Hawk
3/11/2104
12:01:17
3/11/2104


cameo appearance in one snap
Red-Tailed
Hawk
3/11/2104
16:35:20
3/11/2104
17:20:14
0:44:54

Fisher
3/12/2104
4:25:31
3/12/2104
4:27:53
0:02:22

Red-Tailed
Hawk
3/12/2104
10:20:46
3/12/2104
11:05:29
0:44:43

Red-Tailed
Hawk
3/12/2104
14:51:56
3/12/2104
15:19:02
0:27:06

Coyote
3/13/2104
20:43:59
3/13/2104
21:04:50
0:20:51

Fisher
3/13/2104
5:38:36
3/13/2104
5:40:14
0:01:38

Fisher
3/14/2104
5:09:47
3/14/2104
5:35:39
0:25:52

Red-Tailed
Hawk
3/14/2104
14:29:07
3/14/2104
15:03:02
0:33:55

Domestic
Dog
3/14/2104
17:22:11
3/14/2104
17:28:14
0:06:03
Not feeding.  On other side of the fence

3/14/2104
23:41:33
3/15/2104
0:12:26
0:30:52

Fisher
3/15/2104
1:31:48
3/15/2104
1:44:13
0:12:25

Domestic
Dog
3/15/2104
9:58:03
3/15/2104
9:58:07
0:00:04

Fisher
3/15/2104
10:00:04
3/15/2104
10:13:13
0:13:09

Red-Tailed
Hawk
3/15/2104
15:41:29
3/15/2104
15:41:33
0:00:04

Red-Tailed
Hawk
3/15/2104
16:53:45
3/15/2104
17:12:34
0:18:49

Fisher
3/15/2104
18:01:20
3/15/2104
18:09:50
0:08:30

Fisher
3/15/2104
20:27:35
3/15/2104
21:03:13
0:35:38

Fisher
3/16/2104
1:44:15
3/16/2104
1:56:33
0:12:18

Fisher
3/16/2104
3:39:43
3/16/2104
3:39:48
0:00:05

Coyote
3/16/2104
5:03:09
3/16/2104
5:19:18
0:16:09

Fisher
3/16/2104
5:34:30
3/16/2104
5:36:50
0:02:20

Red-Tailed
Hawk
3/16/2104
9:22:15
3/16/2104
9:22:20
0:00:05

Red-Tailed
Hawk
3/16/2104
15:09:12
3/16/2104
15:34:02
0:24:50

Coyote
3/16/2104
19:34:28
3/16/2104
19:55:35
0:21:07

Coyote
3/16/2104
20:22:01
3/16/2104
20:22:05
0:00:04

Fisher
3/16/2104
22:09:35
3/16/2104
22:09:39
0:00:04

Coyote
3/17/2104
3:29:07
3/17/2104
3:29:08
0:00:01

Coyote
3/17/2104
22:58:42
3/17/2104
22:58:47
0:00:05

Coyote
3/18/2104
0:57:22
3/18/2104
1:11:13
0:13:51

Fisher
3/18/2104
1:15:29
3/18/2104
1:19:03
0:03:34

Coyote
3/18/2104
2:52:06
3/18/2104
2:52:11
0:00:05

Coyote
3/18/2104
3:44:24
3/18/2104
3:44:29
0:00:05

Coyote
3/18/2104
20:26:48
3/18/2104
20:28:20
0:01:32

Coyote
3/18/2104
21:26:45
3/18/2104
21:27:27
0:00:42

Fisher
3/19/2104
5:20:21
3/19/2104
5:23:25
0:03:04

Coyote
3/19/2104
19:56:07
3/19/2104
19:58:22
0:02:15

Coyote
3/20/2104
2:10:11
3/20/2104
2:16:55
0:06:44

Total
Feeding Time
10:05:22
Excludes dog times





After reviewing the Coyote and Red-tailed Hawk photographed on the first deer carcass back in January   and comparing to same species photographed on the March kill, there is reasonable certainty that it is the same coyote and hawk recorded then and now on this second deer kill.  On the new site, only one coyote was photographed feeding at a time.  This was true at the previous feeding site but on the last day on that site, two coyotes were seen; one feeding and other standing in the brush either awaiting a turn or looking for a dropped morsel.
If anyone comes across another kill, please send email to the Kingfisher at kingfisherchatter@gmail.com (no “s” on …chatter) so a Trail Cam can be deployed promptly.  Hopefully if there is a very fresh kill we’ll be able to image Bobcat known to be in the area but very secretive

Other

Possible Moose Prints

After deploying the Trail Cam on the deer carcass, overly large deer-family tracks were seen by the Refuge’s North Parking lot.  At first it was conjectured that they were just deer tracks that melted out making them larger in appearance.  But looking closely at the track, the separation between the hooves is still intact.  Had this been deer track melted out, then the separation would like be gone.  Take a look at the photo below:

Dimensioned track possibly belonging to moose found adjacent to North Parking Lot at ARNWR
An expert tracker’s opinion would be nice on this

Summary of Beaver Cam

The Beaver Cam was deployed from February 1st to March 9th.  Despite the obvious evidence of beaver at this site, no beavers were recorded.  Aforementioned evidence included a felled tree next to the Trail Cam but out of the field of view of the camera.  Deer, otter and raccoon were photographed as recorded in the last blog posting.  Only 112 images were recorded in all that time.  Here are a few interesting shots from that site since the last blog reporting:




Deer getting a drink in front of the Trail Cam


Spring is Coming!

Even though the weather has been very cold and the winter long, there are obvious signs of spring at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge.  Ring-necked Ducks, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Mallards, Canada Goose have all be seen on the river at the White Pond Road bridge on the way to the Refuge’s North Parking Lot.  Red-winged Blackbirds can be seen and heard once again on the river and in the Refuge.  Looking forward to the spring bird migration (and some warmer weather).

See you on the Refuge.  Look for me while there.


-  The Kingfisher