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Cute video! Guar-un-teed to make ya smile. Bobcat bonus!

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Mid-July 2014

One of the beneficiaries of restoring the Longleaf Pine habitat is the critters. A previous bucket and bunches of comments have covered Spring Canyon located in rural Gadsden County Florida.

The 100 acres Ms. Helen has been restoring centers around a pond created by a long-ago dam across a ravine and creek. Steep slopes on either side are heavily wooded. Up top on the sandhills are the remnants of Longleaf. Thankfully past owners (a church resort) never bothered with the pines and cloudy titles from its turpentine past kept it from becoming a corporate Sandpine desert like the surrounding land.

So this place became a small oasis for critters with dozens of gophers holes. But not all holes are gophers. The easiest tell is the shape of the hole. It's not round; it's wider and slightly rounded, you know, sorta like the shape of a gopher.

The front claws just happen to be the right size to dig a hole that fits its body. Plus, the body is the right fit to turn around anywhere in its hole. Nature sure is smart.

The video, while it is rather short, is below the fold in case some of you have internet issues with autostarts and download sizes or are tired of the whole you-tubes thing.

OK - here is the video I took with my iPhone. It can go a lot faster than you think. Actually I had to chase it down after Helen saw it in the fire lane and slammed her brakes. I leapt out and ran down to get in front. The GT stopped and tucked up and hissed at me. After we took pictures (my foot next to it to see the size, me feeling its grit-smoothed carapace) it got tired of us and moved off, sneaking past Helen and down towards a hole. I'm not sure it knew the exact spot of the hole but it sure picked up speed!

Not all gopher holes are used by gophers. Snakes, rabbits, anything that happens to come by. Outdoor motion cameras are a big thing down here. Stick one of these cameras on a stick or your hunting stand and see what comes around. Some models have night vision.  

Camera set-up by gopher hole.

Sometimes you get lucky and catch something like this - a Bobcat looking in, might be after a rabbit gone down the hole. From Helen's collection of critter-cam photos.

Last photo - one of the trees we cut down to free up space for Longleaf. We don't cut all the persimmons and oaks as we try to leave some food for the critters.

I sure wish I had a video of what I witnessed right now. Sitting here at my desk, typing this, and looking out into the side yard, a cloudy morning, damp, and 4 dark bodies loped across the yard, turned at my trail and headed up into the woods.  The line was by me and gone in seconds. Too agile and sleek to be beavers, I'm guessing otters headed from the wetlands on my side of the hill to the bigger pond on the "otter" side. Sure looked like they knew where they were going! I'm mightily impressed and will likely spend hours gazing out, wanting another sighting.

OK, your turn! What do you see outside your window?

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Originally posted to Backyard Science on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, EcoJustice, Team DFH, and Community Spotlight.

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