So on Friday afternoon Neil and I, along with our YPM colleagues Tim and Jess, met in the parking lot at Roosevelt Forest. We were armed with an impressive array of trapping hardware, including multiple types of live traps, automatic cameras, and our secret weapon - two jars of Dead Ringer. This substance, which looks vaguely like beef stew, if smeared onto trees and bushes is reputed to attract carnivorous mammals from miles away. All I can say is that this particular mammal thought that it smelt like the concentrated essence of 50 rotting skunks. We also had a bottle containing a cocktail of several different types of urine to spray liberally over our traps. When you come right down to it, Mammals are disgusting things.
When applied to our camera positions the Dead Ringer was so potent that even we could smell it from a mile off. So it was with high hopes that we left the forest at nightfall. Of course, it pissed down with rain all night and we returned the next morning we found we had caught... nothing. However, when we pulled the camera traps we found that we had actually managed to photograph some mammals - an opossum, a couple of deer, and a fox. Add that to the racoon tracks that one of our colleagues saw at the beach, a squirrel sighting, and a couple of fresh-ish paw prints on the bank of a stream that we decided were coyote and we had added six species to the inventory. Most importantly, after years in the bowels of AMNH I had rediscovered that fieldwork was actually quite fun. We are already revising our sampling strategy for the next BioBlitz, in August.
Running around in the woods, hunting animals, and equipped with foul smelling substances. Oh My God - I have turned into Ted Nugent.