The prairie dogs are outsmarting me. Again.
The site we are visiting this week is located at a recreation area, and yesterday (a beautiful sunny Sunday), dozens of people were out fishing, kayaking, and swimming at the lake adjacent to the colony. Prairie dogs are already vigilant of potential predators, and their wariness is amplified when many people are around. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that in a colony of low density, we have been unable to catch any prairie dogs in two days… We will keep trying.
In the meantime, we have seen a few other critters– different species than we have on black-tailed prairie dog colonies in Boulder. In Boulder, we have seen Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophius tridecemlineatus), prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridus viridus), bull snakes (Pituophis catenifer sayi), desert cottontails (Sylvilagus adubonii), deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and many insects and spiders (sorry, I need help with this type of classification…).
On our Gunnison’s prairie dog colony here in eastern Arizona, we have found fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), one horned lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi (?)), rock squirrels (Spermophilus variegatus) and plovers (uncertain Charadrius species; probably the mountain plover, C. montanus). We have also seen Western Meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta) here (as on prairie dog colonies in Boulder). Rumor has it there are burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) here too… we’ll keep our eyes out!
Tomorrow I will set traps at a colony we’ll visit next week, near beautiful Canyon de Chelly National Park in Arizona. Lucky us!