Finding the Fog shrew (previous post) had a seductive effect. I decided to set three cameras in the damp fern-choked slash on that same north slope.
I was still after mountain beaver, but I wanted to see what else was scooting around in there.
I was looking for the charismatic little guys.
"Botherations" visit the camera trapper in a thicket.
You need a scaled-down perspective, and to get a Lilliputian's view you have to crawl around in the undergrowth.
It was a different world in there, but various camera trap sets soon presented themselves, and I decided to skip the use of bait or lure.
The holidays came and went, and last week during a spell of clear weather Terry and I made a dash for the cameras.
All but one contained water and several were too wet to work. (A few days over the wood burning stove fixed all but one.)
I was pleased to get mountain beaver, shadow chipmunk, and another shrew, as well as the usual deer mice and a winter wren.
But the prize was this vole. It wasn't the usual meadow vole, that I knew.
But could it be the mysterious white-footed vole (Arborimus albipes), the arboreal browser of alder leaves? Or was it the California red-backed vole (Myodes californicus)?
It never hurts to have friends who are taxonomists, so I sent the photos to Al Gardner at the National Museum of Natural History.
He identified it as the California red-backed vole, Myodes californicus.
Myodes californicus? What happened to Clethrionomys californicus? That's the name in my mammal books. Am I living in the taxonomic past?
". . . some Russians are trying to resurrect Clethrionomys, but I don't think they will be successful. The few Arborimus albipes I looked at all have longer tails and lacked the "reddish" back. I did not see any Arborimus albipes in the general collection from Arcata, which is the type locality. It would be nice to get specimens (with tissue). If you get up to Arcata tale a look at the mammal collection. Incidentally, some M. californicus do have white feet."
This is not a species you attract with bait.
California red-bacled voles are subterranean fungus eaters, truffle specialists, and according to Chris Maser's excellent book, they are usually found in conifer forests with little ground cover but abundant rotting logs.
This is where I found the vole.
There are redwood groves near by, but it is not coniferous forest. It's early second growth -- braken and sword fern, salal, Ceanothus and alder. And a colony of mountain beaver.
So I wonder?
Is the California red-backed vole another free loader seeking truffles in the mountain beaver's underworld?
Maser, Chris. 1998. Mammals of the Pacific Northwest. Oregon State University Press.