Archive for March 2013

Big Thicket National Preserve

March 30, 2013

Hi All,

I am in Big Thicket National Preserve for the weekend. Despite some recent rain, the conditions are perfect for small mammal spotlighting (dry leaf litter and nightly termite flights), and there are some well-groomed trails where you don’t have to watch your step too much while walking them at night. These trails are designed to cover the maximum diversity of habitat. I got seven species of small spp. last night (smaller than an armadillo, an opossum or a rabbit) – that’s my record for eastern USA. (My last record was six, but that was in the Everglades before the python plague.) Watched an Eastern mole (blonde race) hunting for winged termites – that was really cool. The other spp. were S short-tailed shrew, Seminole bat, cotton and golden mice, E woodrat, and cotton rat.

Searching for the Owl faced monkey

March 28, 2013

Following on from Jon’s failed attempt to see Fisher, I’m adding my own tale of an unsuccessful trip. These reports are definitely not as satisfying to write as successful ones, but useful nevertheless. My particular quest was to try to see the Owl faced monkey in Rwanda where I was attending a meeting last month. WCS had been carrying out a study of Owl faced in the south of Nyungwe for a number of years, but unfortunately this came to an end in 2007. The WCS office told me that it would be pretty difficult to find them now, but they nevertheless helped me sort out the logistics of the trip.

A colleague and I drove to the area (c. 5 hours from Kigali), which is a seldom visited part of the Park close to the Burungi border and camped at the ranger post. The next day we walked to the area where we were hoping to see them, with some trackers who had been looking for signs of the monkeys for the past few days. We rapidly discovered that the trails were all heavily overgrown, and the surrounding vegetation exceedingly thick, giving very poor visibility. We slogged our way up and down trails for several hours but realised that we were looking for a needle in a haystack. The monkeys would have had to cross the path in front of us, for us to have had any chance of seeing them, as there was nowhere one could sit which allowed a view of more than a few meters. The overgrown trails also made it very difficult to walk quietly. The forest was surprisingly empty: in 7 hours of walking we didn’t see any primates of any description or indeed and spoor or dung of other mammals except for one bushpig scraping. There were also surprisingly few birds. We did hear one loud boom of a male Owl faced some way off in the distance, which at least confirmed that they are still there. With little time at our disposal we decided to cut our losses and drive to the main tourist area of Nyungwe and see some of the primate species there – which others have written about already, and is well worth a trip.

I think it could be possible to see the Owl faced if you went with just one guide and were prepared to spend a week crawling along paths (this is a notoriously shy species), but the logistics are not easy. The main habitat for this species is a good 90 minute walk from the ranger post so unless one had permission to camp in the forest, you’re looking at a 3 hour round trip up and down very slippery trails to get to the possible viewing area and back. You’d have to really want to see it! If anyone knows of any better locations to see this species I’d be happy to hear about them.


Trip Report – Jersey

March 27, 2013

A short trip to Jersey

Red Squirrel, Lesser White Toothed Shrew and Jersey Bank Vole the highlights




Mystery Beast – Danum Valley, Borneo

March 26, 2013

These two camera trap pictures from Borneo’s Danum Valley have created quite some discussion among experts and – so far as I know – the jury is still out on what they are.

What do people think?




Qinghai Lake and Przewalski’s Gazelles

March 25, 2013

Just finished a whirlwind weekend at Qinghai and finally located the lakeside population of Przewalski’s gazelles.  Great spot and a great species!  Here is a short post on the experience and location.  Enjoy!  Now tomorrow we’re off to Xinjiang!


Parc Du Bic, Quebec

March 22, 2013

parc du bic

I was in Quebec for the weekend with my kids earlier this month. Mainly it was to visit the Hotel du Glace in Quebec City, which was a lot of fun for a night but would be much less fun if we’d stayed any longer. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to check out Parc Du Bic, between Rimouski and Riviere du Loupe, which I had heard was a hotspot for Fishers (its a hotspot for Porcupines too hence the Fishers).

The woman working in the visitors centre seemed not to know anything about Fishers and her English (like many people we met) was not at all good. The park is closed to vehicles during the snow season so we spent 3 hours walking the trails one afternoon, and another 3 hours the next morning. No Fishers. Maybe some tracks though I wouldn’t swear to it. The only mammals we saw in fact were a couple of Red Squirrels.

The reports from a few years ago that I’d heard had made it sound like you could see 3 Fishers in a day in Parc du Bic. That may still be the case, and it might be easier in the summmer, but I’m not at all sure that is still the case. That said it is a nice park and so I will try to spend another weekend there (this time without my kids this time so I can focus more on the Fishers), and I will go during the summer when you can drive right into the park and cover more ground in a vehicle.

I’m going to check out Algonquin park over Easter and maybe I will get lucky there. Maybe…


New European Trip Reports

March 22, 2013

Stefanie Lahaye sent me several reports for Spain, Germany, Poland and Romania that are now on the site and available in the usual place.

Spain, 2012: Stefanie Lahaye, 2 weeks & 26 species including Iberian Lynx, Common Genet and Egyptian Mongoose.

Romania 2009: Stefanie Lahaye, 10 days & 9 species including Chamois and Brown Bear.

Poland, 2011: Stefanie Lahaye, 1 week & 14 species including both Martens and Souslik.

Black Forest, 2012 & 2011: Stefanie Lahaye, and notes of 2 trips with 6 species including Wild Boar.

Her reports are also on her blog