Category Archives: Critters

Objects On Mirror

A sunny SoCal day, top down, heading home from the store, I glance over at the passenger side mirror before changing lanes and I see we have a passenger.

We really don’t see a lot of mantises around here – I think they’re unusual enough so I’ve shared pictures of them before.

It also occurs to me that it could be a selection effect – for all I know the trees are practically dripping with them and they’re really, REALLY good at staying hidden – I just spot the occasional loser and Darwin award finalist.

This critter had some interesting banding back by the back legs.

It was interesting how it moved around, almost like a spider crawling around a web.

About this time it decided that the car was hot (it was), my iPhone was not, so it hopped onto the phone. I was holding the phone at the time to take the picture and had an extremely non-macho reaction. The mantis correctly interpreted my violent shaking of the phone to mean that I wanted it off, so it complied by hopping off onto my hand and starting up my arm.

I neither screamed like a little girl nor did I squish it – I get a cookie!

(For the record, I brushed it off onto the other car that was sitting there in the shade and much cooler. I also warned it about the Freds, who no doubt would invite it to lunch as the entree.)


Filed under Critters, Photography

Gary Gopher

From yesterday’s groundbreaking:

I was glad to see the little guy. I figured if he wasn’t too nervous to come out, if his little gopher senses weren’t all a tingle, there probably weren’t any rattlesnakes in the immediate vicinity.

It didn’t occur to me until just now that he might be thinking the exact same thing about us…

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Filed under Critters, Habitat For Humanity, Video

Raccoon Update

They’re back again tonight after a few days away. I’m probably at least partially responsible for their absence. There was a night last week when they were REALLY raucous up on the roof and I ended up going out into the back yard twice with a big flashlight to try to figure out what the hell was going on.

Mama Raccoon generally doesn’t like that, so it was quiet the next night or three. Then I heard them back for brief periods for a couple night, and tonight they’ve been back most of the evening.

One thing I did find out on that night last week is that there’s a whole gang of kits out there. A quick Google search shows that “two to five” is normal for a litter – they hit the jackpot since I saw five at once and could hear others.

The first time I had gone out Mama immediately let them off across the roof to retreat, and I saw three kits with her then. They were back in about fifteen minutes, at which point the sound level got even worse and I thought they were coming through the roof. When I went out the second time, there was no sign of Mama – but as soon as I flashed the light, five little faces scurried over to the edge of the roof to laugh, point, and ask if I had food.

They are too cute to live. They’re probably only a month or two old, about half the size of your normal adult house cat, and apparently without any fear or common sense. (That’s how this sort of thing happens.) My money says that Mama told them to sit tight and “Be-HAVE!” We know how well that works with humans, raccoons don’t seem to be any better at it.

Time to be thinking about how I can get a better video or picture taking setup on the roof…


Filed under Castle Willett, Critters

Raccoon Wrestling (DEFINITELY A Euphemism)

Tonight as they’re trotting around up there I know there are at least four. I haven’t stuck my head up there (not a particularly good time to be climbing in the dark, especially to invade the territory of some potentially pissed off critters) but at least twice I’ve heard them quite clearly walking by in single file (to hide their numbers, no doubt) and it’s not that hard to tell.

In the last year or two we’ve learned that they’re a bit solitary and usually the only time you’ll see two adults together is if it’s mating season. When you hear a larger group (like the ones in the other pictures I’ve published before) it’s usually a mother and her young, a grouping that can last up to a year and a half.

January – two of them, almost every night. June – at least four of them, almost every night.

One doesn’t need to be Marlin Perkins to figure out how we got from a pair to a full house. (Again, it might be easiest to download them all and then “flip” through them to animate the series.)

Note the time stamps – that’s about three minutes.

Two hours later, she’s still looking a bit “rumpled,” don’t you think?


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Filed under CAF, Critters, Photography

Raccoon Wrestling (Not A Euphemism)

As I threatened to do yesterday, this evening I went up on the roof and pulled down the trailcam.

Are there raccoons up there? Let’s put it this way. It was about sunset, maybe a little after when I went out. When I unlatched and rolled open the heavy sliding glass door to the patio, which is directly under the entrance to their under-eaves hidey-hole, there was a clatter of feet above me as they scrambled back inside.

“Run away!! Run away!!”

As I was walking around on the roof, maybe ten feet from said hidey-hole entrance, I could just see a little black face peeking around the corner in the shadows, ready to sound the alarm if I did anything “funny.”

I did not do anything “funny.”

I did pull off over three months of pictures. Over 10,000 pictures. (I won’t put all of them up here, although that would be an interesting thing to build a twitterbot for…)

One of the first things I did find was an example of the kind of ruckus that I was complaining about last night. This series of photos covers about ninety seconds and makes the sort of racket that will wake me up all the way at the other end of the house.

For best effect, download them all and then “flip” through them quickly to more or less animate them.

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Filed under CAF, Critters, Photography

The “Kids” Are Back Again – Again

I haven’t been hearing the raccoons up on the roof at night in a couple of months, but there was one last night. He/she must have been the scout.

Tonight it sounds like a freakin’ herd of them up there and they’re playing football, or tap dancing, or sumo wrestling, or something.

The wildlife CAM is still up there – probably time to check and see if the batteries are still holding out. (It’s been months – the batteries will NOT have held out. That’s a sucker bet.)

Meanwhile, a better use for the camera (once I put new batteries in it) might be to watch some of the possibly broken screens that lead to the crawl space under the house. While we regularly (once a month or so, maybe twice) smell the neighborhood skunk in the worst possible way, it’s always a situation where you smell it at both ends of the house, inside, outside, all around the town! However, we’ll occasionally get a whiff, not bad, not strong, and only by the garage and/or connected laundry room.

It does make me wonder if they’ve found a way to make a pest of themselves even more so than average.

Time to go hunting. With a camera, just to be clear!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters

What’s The Buzz? Tell Me, What’s A’ Happening?

While we did build these hangers to be the home of flying things, we prefer fixed-wing critters.

No bees or beekeepers were harmed in the making of this story.

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Filed under CAF, Critters