Some good friends of ours recently bought a piece of property in the nearby Sulphur Springs Valley. They live in Minnesota and visit occasionally but asked me to keep an eye on the place and begin some simple restoration to a habitat that shows signs of past abuse. Most of the native grasses are gone and the remaining mesquite is the dominant plant species. In some areas the topsoil has been eroded and so I began constructing small check dams to slow the sheet erosion. I have to admit, even to a confirmed Desert Rat, the place looks pretty bleak.
But we had seen tracks along several of the washes that traverse the property and I decided as part of my monitoring, I would install a couple of motion sensitive cameras to see what was moving when I was not visiting. The results were surprising. Every week I would check the cameras and bring home the chip that stores the images for a glimpse into the unseen world on this patch of desert. I will admit I also left a little cat food as an enticement to any passing predator to stick around long enough to have its picture taken. In just a few weeks I had assembled an album of residents and visitors that include the neighbor’s dogs, several coyotes (one photo had three Coyotes in view), Grey Fox, Hooded Skunk, Black-tailed Jackrabbits, Desert Cottontails, Javelina, Mule Deer, Ord’s Kangaroo Rat and the real prize, a nice Bobcat. We even caught an image of the bobcat returning from a hunt dragging a jackrabbit. A small water basin and some birdseed brought a variety of birds from Black-throated Sparrow to Red-tailed hawk, Chihuahuan Raven and a Greater Roadrunner.
Most of the activity is at night, although the javelinas have become regular daytime visitors to the water basin. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to remotely monitor the activity on this property and the diversity present makes me even more pleased to be a part of its restoration. Now I know there are many residents awaiting our improvements.