It's been a good week for unusual wildlife.
We got a surprise a few nights ago when flipping the porch light on to take the trash out: a bat was clinging to the wall just outside the front door.
It was tiny, and very calm -- so motionless we feared it was dead. (I took advantage of this to run inside and grab the camera.) It didn't move at all while we were there. The trash mission accomplished, we turned out the light and left the bat alone. Happily, it wasn't ill or dead: it was gone a few hours later.
We see bats fairly regularly flying back and forth across the patio early on summer evenings -- insects are apparently attracted to the light visible through the windows from inside, and the bats follow the insects. But this was the first close look I'd had at a stationary bat, and my first chance to photograph one.
I'm not completely sure what sort of bat it is: almost certainly
some species of Myotis (mouse-eared bats), and most likely
M. yumanensis, the "little brown bat". It's hard to be sure,
though, as there are at least six species of Myotis known in the area.
We've had several woodrats recently try to set up house near the house or the engine compartment of our Rav4, so we've been setting traps regularly. Though woodrats are usually nocturnal, we caught one in broad daylight as it explored the area around our garden pond.
But the small patio outside the den seems to be a particular draw for them, maybe because it has a wooden deck with a nice dark space under it for a rat to hide. We have one who's been leaving offerings -- pine cones, twigs, leaves -- just outside the door (and less charming rat droppings nearby), so one night Dave set three traps all on that deck. I heard one trap clank shut in the middle of the night, but when I checked in the morning, two traps were sprung without any occupants and the third was still open.
But later that morning, I heard rattling from outside the door. Sure enough, the third trap was occupied and the occupant was darting between one end and the other, trying to get out. I told Dave we'd caught the rat, and we prepared to drive it out to the parkland where we've been releasing them.
And then I picked up the trap, looked in -- and discovered it was a pretty funny looking woodrat. With a furry tail and stripes. A chipmunk! We've been so envious of the folks who live out on the canyon rim and are overloaded with chipmunks ... this is only the second time we've seen here, and now it's probably too spooked to stick around.
We released it near the woodpile, but it ran off away from the house.
Our only hope for its return is that it remembers the nice peanut
butter snack it got here.
Later that day, we were on our way out the door, late for a meeting, when I spotted a small lizard in the den. (How did it get in?) Fast and lithe and purple-tailed, it skittered under the sofa as soon as it saw us heading its way.
But the den is a small room and the lizard had nowhere to go. After upending the sofa and moving a couple of tables, we cornered it by the door, and I was able to trap it in my hands without any damage to its tail.
When I let it go on the rocks outside, it calmed down
immediately, giving me time to run for the camera.
Its gorgeous purple tail doesn't show very well, but at least the photo
was good enough to identify it as a juvenile Great Plains skink.
The adults look more like Jabba the Hut
nothing like the lovely little juvenile we saw.
We actually saw an adult this spring (outside), when we were clearing
out a thick weed patch and disturbed a skink from its hibernation.
And how did this poor lizard get saddled with a scientfic
name of Eumeces obsoletus?
[ 11:07 Jul 30, 2015 More nature | permalink to this entry | ]