BBC Wildlife Camera-trap Photo of the Year 2012 Winners Announced

BBC 2012 Camera Trap Contest

As many of you know, I love to take pictures with digital SLR camera traps. I am still learning a ton about it and people are always getting new and exciting pictures. So I wanted to point out that the BBC released the winners for this years camera trap competition. There are amazing pictures in their gallery — I would highly recommend checking them out!

Two of my images made it as well, both as commended wildlife portraits. The Genet from Yemen.


Small-spotted Genet (Genetta genetta) at night, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

and our local Bobcat from Aptos.


Bobcat (Lynx rufus) in forest, Aptos, Monterey Bay, California

As you can see, the other people in the group are amazing camera trappers, it is an honor to be commended and have my photos displayed alongside theirs.

Ps: My personal favorite is the snow leopard (what can I say, I am a sucker for cats!)

*If you are interested in purchasing any of the pictures displayed in this post, please check out my fine prints page for pricing.*

New Digital SLR Camera Trap Pics

It’s been too long since I have posted some digital SLR camera trap shots so I figured I’d get my butt moving and show you what has been walking through the woods as of late.

I have had the first picture in my mind for years, I wanted to get a deer jumping over a big log. I set the camera up over a year ago but kept only getting deer butts instead of them jumping at the camera. Patience finally paid off as this buck jumped our way.

1Sebastian Kennerknecht-Mule Buck Jumping over log-IMG_83533

Mule Deer buck jumping over log, Santa Cruz, California

Some animals prefer to take the easier way apparently:

1Sebastian Kennerknecht - Juvenile Bobcat on Log-IMG_84569

Juvenile Bobcat on log at night, Santa Cruz, California

A little bit further down the path I set up another camera trap set-up. The first thing to come by was the ever reliable Mule Deer (or Black-tailed Deer, which ever name you prefer):

1Sebastian Kennerknecht - Mule Deer in Forest-IMG_84644

Mule Deer buck in forest, Santa Cruz, California

…and then, my first Coyote image using camera traps. I know, I know, for my fellow camera trappers this is not a big deal, but when you can add another species to your camera trapping list you are jumping up and down, running down the street (it leads to some awkward and perplexed stares from the neighbors).

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Coyote in forest, Santa Cruz, California

That’s it for now, but hopefully more coming soon!

Endangered Neighbor: Brown Pelican

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Brown Pelican in breeding plumage, San Diego, California

This Endangered Neighbor was taken off the US endangered species list in 2009 due to their population rising to what authorities consider to be large enough numbers. As we all know, this doesn’t mean they are in the clear, but so long as we make sure we don’t repeat history, Brown Pelicans should have a stable future. To do this, we need to look at that history to see how we got Brown Pelicans in trouble in the first place.

Chemical Pollution

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Brown Pelican ‘reading’ contaminated water sign, Santa Cruz, California

DDT was one of many contaminates released into the environment after world war II. The problem with DDT was (and still is) that it causes thin egg shells. Brown Pelicans incubate their eggs by standing on them. Because of the thin egg shells caused by the pesticide, pelicans were literally crushing their own eggs. In 1969 only 12 of 300 nests contained whole eggs on West Anacapa Island (the only breeding colony in California), the rest were crushed. In fact, the nearshore waters of southern California have experienced the highest levels of environmental contamination by DDT anywhere in the world. This was not only caused by local agriculture, but by the Montrose Chemical Company which was discharging hundreds of pounds of DDT directly into the southern California oceans.

In 1972 the use of pesticides like DDT was banned in the US (though we are still the number one producer of DDT, now shipping it abroad), which was probably the biggest historical factor in bringing Brown Pelicans back.

As you can see from the image above, chemical pollution is still a problem, not from DDT, but from agricultural and industrial run-off.

Plastic Pollution

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Brown Pelican carrying Plastic Spoon, Santa Cruz, California

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Brown Pelican about to catch plastic spoon in mouth, Santa Cruz, California

Plastic pollution is a constantly increasing modern threat since pelicans often consume them, thinking it is food. Save our Shores reports that they pick up 60 lbs of trash per beach clean up. That is nuts!!! Not only that, but they average around 385 lbs of garbage per river clean up, so you can imagine how much trash gets swept into the ocean that we simply don’t even know about.

The Solution

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The nice part about this step, is that in reality, it is relatively easy. There are a few different easy steps you can take to help Brown Pelicans survive.

– Eat organic foods (therefore eliminating agricultural run-off)
– Buy re-usable bottles and bags, eliminating plastic bags and bottles.
– Throw your trash away in proper containers, but re-use as much as possible.
-Volunteer with Save our Shores (check out their calendar for their frequent clean up days)

…. see, all those steps are super easy!

If we all take these small steps we can ensure to be graced by the beauty of Brown Pelicans for years to come! To see more Brown Pelican images, besides the images below, visit the Brown Pelican Portfolio!

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Adult and juvenile Brown Pelican in flight, Santa Cruz, California


Brown Pelican peeking around rock, Santa Cruz, California

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Brown Pelican in Flight, San Diego, California

*If you are interested in purchasing any of the pictures displayed in this post, please check out my fine prints page for pricing.*


Endangered Neighbor: California Condor

California Condor Juvenile Male in Pinnacles National Monument

Juvenile California Condor male, Pinnacles National Monument, California

Our most Endangered Neighbor is the California Condor with less than 200 individuals in the wild (There are about 181 in captivity). Like the Sea Otter, the low California Condor numbers are due mainly to historical reasons. Many were shot since they were seen as threats to livestock (sadly not true as they are strict carrion eaters) and for museum specimens. Then, as for so many other bird species, came the problem of pesticides, specifically DDT. It caused their egg shells to be too thin, causing them to break.

Soaring Adult California Condor in Big Sur

Soaring juvenile California Condor, Big Sur, California

Though Condor numbers are on the rise the still face modern day threats:

    • Poaching is still an issue (how is this possible?!?!)
    • Habitat destruction

Dying of lead poisoning due to eating hunter killed carrion that contains lead bullets

Junile California Condor male flying in Pinnacles

California Condor juvenile male flying, Pinnacles National Monument, California

Though these guys are not as cuddly and cute looking as our beloved otters, there are still people who are devoting their life to saving this amazing species. Mainly, the people from the Ventana Wildlife Society‘s Condor Project are responsible for their increase in numbers by managing and conducting a few different projects.

    • They collect thin-shelled, wild-laid eggs and replace them with viable captive-bred eggs
    • They treat lead-poisoned birds

They monitor the safety and health of each condor through radio telemetry

Replacing batteries on radio transmitter on California Condor

Replacing batteries on radio transmitter on California Condor

Monitoring California Condor at Release Site

Monitoring California Condor at Release Site, Big Sur, California

California Condor release in Big Sur

California Condor release, Big Sur, California

Cleaing out Rats in California Condor holding site

They (here Lyla Hunt) also get to clean out the dead rats used as food for the California Condors in their holding pen, Big Sur, California – yummy!

Radio Tracking California Condor in Big Sur

Radio tracking California Condor, Big Sur, California

In fact, the wild flock in central California, aka along the Big Sur coast is a direct result of their dynamic efforts.

Now as always, there are plenty of little steps we can all take to help condors out. Trust me, if for no other reason than this one, you want these guys to survive to see one of them soar near you. Their impressive nine foot wing span is awe inspiring!

So here are the steps you and me should be taking!

  • Adopt a Condor
  • Immediately report poaching activities to the Department of Fish and Game at 1 888 DFG-CALTIP (888 334-2258)
  • Hunt with non-lead bullets
  • Finally, there are limited and irregular volunteer opportunities with the Ventana Wilderness Society (call them at 831-455-9514)
California Condor and Turkey Vulture

California Condor and Turkey Vulture flying, Big Sur, California — oh yeah, there is a size difference 🙂

*If you are interested in purchasing any of the pictures displayed in this post, please check out my fine prints page for pricing.*

Aptos Pumas Mating Pair

Like most other felines, pumas live a rather solitary life. The only prolonged periods of time multiple animals spend time together is the 15 month period (on average) cubs spend with their mother.Though undoubtedly there are instances where cougars run into each other (like at a kill, for example when these two females with cubs met) but those encounters seem to be avoided by communication through various olfactory, visual, and auditory signs. Those same signs however can also be clues left by a female to signal a male she is sexually receptive. Researchers believe that urine marks and vocalizing are the primary ways a female advertises her ‘availability’. This vocalization is what is referred to as caterwauling and it is quite an impressive sound. Have a listen:

Audio of Female Cougar in Heat

That would get my attention as well, though I wouldn’t want to necessarily go towards the sound.

Female mountain lions have an estrus of four to twelve days with an average of seven to eight days (data from captive studies). This is a rather short period of time for a male to find a female when you occupy as large of home ranges as they do, so it makes sense to create an obvious ‘hey, I am right here!’ kind of signal. Once they do find each other a breeding pair will stay together for one to sixteen days with one to four days being most typical. After the business is done the male will leave again (I know, I know, typical male behavior….).

So, is this meet up of two mountain lions a mating pair in the pictures below. The mountain lion front and center is our resident female, Artemis (named so after the Greek goddess of the hunt, based on her forehead mark resembling Artemis’s bow — can you tell my girlfriend came up with that one??) but if you look carefully on the right there is another puma, a rather large puma, sitting off to the side.

Mountain Lions in Aptos, California Taken: July 13th, 2011 @ 5:34pm

Mountain Lions in Aptos, California Taken: July 13th, 2011 @ 5:34pm

Mountain Lion Pair in Aptos, California

Mountain Lion Pair in Aptos, California

Mountain Lion Pair in Aptos, California

Mountain Lion Pair in Aptos, California

Is it a male? What do you think? If it is indeed a male and breeding was successful then we may have kittens starting around about October 15th of this year….time will tell!


Ross, P.I. and M.G. Jalkotzy. 1992. Characteristics of a hunted population of cougars in southwestern Alberta. Journal of Wildlife Managment. 56:417-426

Mehrer, C.F. 1975. Some aspects of reproduction in captive mountain lions Felis concolor, bobcats Lynx rufus, and lynx Lynx canadensis. Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Dakote, Grand Forks.

Rabb, G.B. 1959. Reproductive and vocal behavior in captive mountain lions.

Seidensticker, J.C., M.G. Hornocker, W.V. Wiles, and J.P. Messick. 1973. Mountain Lion social organization in the Idaho Primitive Area. Wildlife Monogram 35: 1-60

Audio Courtesy of Felidae Conservation Fund.