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Virtual Campfire Program: Nature Detectives – The Search for Animal Signs



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Hi there, and welcome to tonight's campfire program. My name is Morgan

Guenther and I'm a naturalist with the East Bay Regional Park District. And I'm

so happy to have you here today joining us by the campfire, even when we can't be

at a campground together. It's the unofficial start of summer, and we're so

happy to have you here in the East Bay Regional Parks. Tonight for our campfire

program, we're going to be nature detectives, learning to spot those animal signs that

are out there, even when we don't see the animals. We're going to be singing songs, you

can eat s'mores if you want, and we're going to be having a ton of fun learning

about everything that the East Bay Regional Park District has to offer. So

settle back and enjoy. The East Bay Regional Park District is an amazing

place with 73 different parks. If you have been to Tilden Regional Park I want

you to put your hand on your head. If you have been to Ardenwood before, and

maybe you have seen one of the sheep, I want you to "Baaaaaah" like a sheep. If you've

been in a redwood park go ahead and make a nice redwood tree. If you have been to

Big Break before, I want you to look out at the view. If you've been to Coyote

Hills and you have learned about the Ohlone people who have been living on

and caring for this land for over ten thousand years, I want you to put your hand on your heart.

If you have enjoyed a park or an outdoor space in the last few months, I want you

to give a thumbs up. So, we're so happy to have you here in the East Bay Regional

Parks. Like I said, there are 73 different parks with something for everybody -

playgrounds, lakes, rivers, creeks, there's the San Francisco Bay, these amazing

redwood trees, and there are over 120,000 acres of land to explore, and over

1,200 miles of trails - so there's a lot to explore!

And we're just going to get started this evening. So, we've got a lot to do tonight,

so let's get started. In all of our East Bay Regional Parks we have so many

different animals and so many different animals that call this place home, and

there's a couple of different things that all animals need in order to call a

place home. So, what are some of the things that animals need? They need food,

shelter and water, and they can find those in lots of different places, from

rivers to lakes to oceans to forests. Right now we're here in a redwood forest, and

we have so many different habitats throughout the East Bay. And this song

sings a little bit about how every animal needs to have a habitat, including

us as human beings. So, the way this song goes - I'm going to sing one line and then

I'm going to have you all at home sing right back to me. We're going to go ahead

and the song goes "Habitat, Habitat, have to have a habitat" Alright, go ahead.

"Habitat, Habitat, have to have a habitat" and then we sing that two more times, so

"Habitat, Habitat, have to have a habitat Habitat, Habitat, have to have a habitat"

And then it switches and it goes: "You have to have a habitat to carry on!"

Alright, go ahead. "You have to have a habitat to carry on." So now that we've

got the chorus, there's going to be some different verses, where I'm going to sing

different habitats and maybe you've actually even sung this song along with

me at before. And you can clap along as we do the different habitats, or you can

even sing along with the lyrics there.

♫ ♫ Habitat, Habitat, have to have a habitat Habitat, Habitat, have to have a habitat

Habitat, Habitat, have to have a habitat You have to have a habitat to carry on. ♫♫

Now what is a habitat, where whales and sharks and squid and octopus

and otters - where do they all live? They live in the ocean! ♫♫ The ocean is a habitat,

a very special habitat. It's where the deepest water's at. ♫♫ It's where the biggest

♫♫ mammal's at. It's where our future food is at It keeps the atmosphere intact.

The ocean is a habitat that we depend on! ♫♫ All together! ♫♫Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat.

♫♫Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat. Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat.

You have to have a habitat to carry on! ♫♫ Now, what is a habitat that has

things like deer and bear and banana slugs and raccoons and squirrels and

owls and I'm sitting in one right now? That's a forest! ♫♫ The forest is a habitat,

♫♫ a very special habitat. It's where the tallest trees are at, it's where a bear

♫♫ can scratch its back. It keeps the ground from falling back, renews the oxygen in

fact, the forest is a habitat that we depend on! ♫♫ All together!

♫♫Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat. Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat.

Habitat, Habitat, have to have a habitat You have to have a habitat to carry on. ♫♫

Now what is a habitat, where it flows down mountains or hills, and

there's sometimes turtles in there and fish and otters and lots of animals

come to drink from it? That is a river! ♫♫ The river is a habitat, a very special

♫♫ habitat. It's where the freshest water's at, for people fish and dusky wood-rats.

♫♫But when the people dump their trash, the river takes the biggest rap. The river is

♫♫a habitat that we depend on. All together! ♫♫Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat.

♫♫Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat. Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat.

♫♫You have to have a habitat to carry on. People are different than

♫♫ foxes and rabbits, affect the whole world with all their habits. Better to love it

while we still have it, or rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat, you habitat's gone. ♫♫ All together, one

last time! ♫♫Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat.

♫♫Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat. Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat.

♫♫You have to have a habitat to carry on! Give yourself a hand.

Alright my friends, so we learned that there are lots of different habitats, and

tonight we're going to be talking about all the different animals that live in these

habitats. And some of these animals can seem a little bit scary sometimes, but

nothing out here in our forest is interested, or in our Lakes or rivers, is

interested in hurting you. In fact, this is their home as well. So the next song

that we're going to sing is all about how animals are not out there to eat us.

And this song is called "Bats eat Bugs" And I'm going to teach you the

motions to this song, and then we're going to sing it together and we're going to

sing about some of the different animals then maybe we might be a little bit

afraid of. The way that this song goes is, ♫♫ Bats eat bugs, they don't eat

people.♫♫ Alright, sing that with me. ♫♫Bats eat bugs, they don't eat people.

♫♫Bats eat bugs, they don't fly in your hair. - Bats eat bugs, they don't fly in

♫♫your hair. Bats eat bugs, they eat insects for dinner.

♫♫Bats eat bugs, they eat insects for dinner. And that's why they're flying up

there. - And that's why they're flying up there. ♫♫ Excellent, so we're going to sing

that several times, and if you remember the motions - great! If not, no big deal and

you can make up motions for some of those other animals. Alright get those

hands up and ready to do their motions!

♫♫Bats eat bugs, they don't eat people. Bats eat bugs, they don't fly in your hair

♫♫Bats eat bugs, they eat insects for dinner. That's why they're flying up

there! - What's something that howls at the moon? Oh, a coyote!

♫♫Coyotes eat rabbits, they don't eat people. Coyotes eat rabbits, cause you're

♫♫too big to bite. Coyotes eat rabbits, they rabbits for dinner. That's why they're

out at night. - All together - ♫♫Bats eat bugs, they don't eat people. Bats eat bugs,

♫♫ they don't fly in your hair. Bats eat bugs, they eat insects for dinner. That's

♫♫ why they're flying up there. - Something that slithers in the grass - that's right -

snakes! ♫♫ Snakes eat mice, they don't eat people. Snakes eat mice, that's why they're

♫♫ on the ground. Snakes eat mice, cause you're too big to swallow, but they don't want

♫♫ you hanging around. - All together! ♫♫Bats eat bugs, they don't eat people. Bats eat bugs,

♫♫ they don't fly in your hair. Bats eat bugs, they eat insects for dinner. That's

♫♫ why they're flying up there. - Now, this is an animal that we do not have around

here anymore, but can sometimes be kind of scary, and that's a bear. And they

don't eat us either! ♫♫ Bears eat berries, they don't eat people.

♫♫ Bears eat berries, they don't eat you or me. Bears eat berries,

♫♫ but they'll steal your dinner, so you better hang it high in a tree!

All together! ♫♫ Bats eat bugs, they don't eat people. Bats eat bugs, they don't fly in

♫♫ your hair. Bats eat bugs, they eat insects for dinner. That's why they're flying up

there! - You know what? ♫♫Nothing out there wants to eat you. Nothing out there wants

♫♫ to eat you. Nothing out there wants to make you its meal. Nothing out there eats

♫♫ people for dinner, cause you know how sick they would feel! - One last time!

♫♫ Bats eat bugs, they don't eat people. Bats eat bugs, they don't fly in your hair

♫♫ Bats eat bugs, they eat insects for dinner. That's why they're flying up there!

I would argue that maybe insects like mosquitoes sometimes do want to eat you,

but that's another verse. You can make up your own verses! So the next song that we

are going to sing has to do with one of the clues that animals leave behind that

let us know they're out there, even when we don't see them. And we're actually going

to be listening to some of these sounds tonight, as we become nature detectives.

This song is pretty simple, because all you need to do is when I say the

name of an animal at the end of the verse, you're going to make the sound of

that animal two times. So I might say something like ♫♫ And the OWL that you

can hear. ♫♫ And then you're going to make that sound two times - Hoot Hoot - or whatever your owl

sounds like. When you make that sound, make sure you listen up, because you'll

get to sing some of those different sounds over and over again, and you can

sing along as you start to learn the melody.

♫♫If you go into the night there's music in the night, calling out a song that's

♫♫ clear. A nighttime pal is the great horned owl, with a song that you can hear

♫♫ and the owl that you can hear. Hoot Hoot. If you go into the night, there's music in the

♫♫night, calling out a song that's clear. Down in the bog, there's a million frogs,

♫♫ with a song that you can hear, and the frogs that you can hear. Ribbit Ribbit. And the owl

♫♫ that you can hear. Hoot Hoot. If you go into the night, there's music in the night, calling

♫♫ out a song that's clear. Down in the thickets, there are some crickets with

♫♫ a song that you can hear and the crickets that you can hear. Chirp Chirp.

♫♫ and the frogs that you can hear. Ribbit, Ribbit. And the owl that you can hear. Hoot Hoot. If you go into the

♫♫ night, there's music in the night, calling out a song that's clear. The musical note

♫♫ of the lone coyote is a song that you can hear. And the coyote that you can

♫♫ hear. A-wooo! And the crickets that you can hear. Chirp Chirp. And the frogs that you can hear. Ribbit Ribbit. And the

♫♫ owl that you can hear. Hoot hoot. If you go into the night, there's music in the night,

♫♫ calling out a song that's clear. The silent wonder of the people's hearts,

♫♫ is a song that you can hear. And the silence that you can hear. And the coyote

♫♫ that you can hear. A-wooo! And the crickets that you can hear. Chirp Chirp.

♫♫ And the frogs that you can hear. Ribbit, Ribbit. And the owl that you can hear. Hoot Hoot. And the silence

♫♫ that you can hear..... Alright, so thank you all so much for singing along with our songs,

and now it is time for us to become nature detectives!

So now that we have learned a little bit about the different habitats that are

out there in the East Bay, we've learned about some of the different sounds that

the animals make, and that no animals are out there that are trying to hurt us -

we're now going to become nature detectives and we're going to search for

animal signs. Tonight is all about the fact that even though we can't see them,

animals are still out there, and if we just look hard enough we can see those

signs left behind. So the way that this is gonna work today is - I'm going to show

you some pictures of scat or tracks or different things that animals leave

behind, and then we might listen to some sounds, and then what we'll do is: We'll

see a screen that looks like this. And when you see this screen, all together, you'll

get up your scientific finger, and you'll say in a nice British accent, "By jove, I

think I've got it! It is a...." and whatever animal you think is based on the clues

that we've looked at, then you're gonna yell that out. So, let's

go ahead and practice it all together. And when we get to it, you

can just yell out whatever animal you want. So ready? 1...2...3... By jove, I think I've

got it! It is a... llama! It's not going to be a llama.

All of the animals that we're going to be looking at today, all of the evidence

and clues, they're all animals that live in our East Bay Regional Parks. Some of

them are more common than others so we've got a whole range of different

things. So, let's go ahead and get started! So, this first piece of evidence: when you

look at it, you're walking along the trail, and it looks just like a fern - no

big deal. But then you notice that there is something that is chewed on it - the

ends of it have been chewed up. Now this animal likes to eat plants, and sometimes

it eats ferns in our forest. Now it leaves behind scat that one might say

looks a little bit like Raisinets - that's kind of a gross analogy, but it's true.

And if you look at it, you can see. Does it remind you of any scat you've seen

before? Maybe a rabbit? Or a goat? Or like a

really small version of horse scat? Now, this is a term that I like to use when

I'm thinking about: does it eat meat or does it eat plants? If

it's a plant eater, it's usually a plopper. So, it's scat comes out little

plops, kind of like this scat right here. The other kind of scat comes out in

pinches. So we've got pinchers and ploppers, and if it's a plopper - it's a

plant eater. If it's a pincher - it's typically a meat-eater. And if it's a mix

of a pinch and a plop, it might be somewhere in between in what it eats as

well. Our pincher-plopper mixes typically lend

themselves towards more pinchers. If you look at this: Pincher or plopper? It's a

plopper. So we know that it eats plants. Let's go ahead, and let's look at the

tracks of this animal. You can see it has these characteristic two-toed tracks.

And this animal when you see them, they're pretty common. We can

actually see them in East Bay Hills. We see them in meadows. We see them all over

the place. It's one of the more common things, and sometimes even crossing roads.

Sometimes you'll actually see signs telling you that this animal is crossing

the road. Alright, so we've seen a couple of different pieces of evidence. Ready? By

Jove, I think I've got it! It is a...deer! If you guessed deer, you were right. So this is

a black tailed deer, which is the kind of deer that we have in our East Bay hills and beyond.

If you've seen a deer before, put up some antlers! Right, now deer are a

pretty common animal, and they are plant eaters, and they are one of those things

that you're likely to see in a park. Even if it's daylight, you might see these

animals. Alright, you all did an excellent job on that one, so let's go ahead and

let's see this one. Now this might not look like very much,

but if you look up close, you can see it's almost like a little tower right in

the middle there, with all that redwood duff all around. This animal actually

builds its home out of things it finds, and it camouflages really well and if

you look you can actually see inside of its burrow.

It is silk-lined, and that might be a little bit of a hint for you. These

animals live inside these burrows. They almost never come out of them, and

they build them. They'll come out to hunt. They'll just kind of come out and

grab food. So, these are carnivores... I've actually never seen their scat before,

but they're probably pinchers. so let's go ahead... that's all I'm going to give you.

You were so good at deer, this is all I'm gonna give you. So we know they build

these burrows and they have silk-lined burrows - those towers. Alright, you ready?

By Jove, I think I've got it! It is a...

Spider. This is a California turret spider, and California turret spiders can

be found on kind of stream banks and also on trail sides. These turret

spiders can live up to 16 years, and they live inside these burrows. Once you

start to see them - when you see one, you'll start to see a bunch of them,

because even a trail is a formidable enough barrier that they don't cross it,

because they can dry out really easily. They really only leave their burrows

a few times to mate, and to make their new burrows after they hatch from their

egg. So this is one of my absolute favorites. This is going to be a little bit

closer of a spider picture so if you don't like it, don't look at it. So

even the littlest disturbance on the edge can cause this spider to grab its prey

out of the turret. I've seen these in Briones and

also in Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park. They're all over our park district -

anywhere where there's a nice kind of trail side that's hilly. Keep your eyes

out and you'll start to see these little turret cities. Alright, so we went a

little bit easy, and then we got harder, so we're going to go back and kind of

mellow out a little bit. So this scat, if you look closely, what

are some of the things that you see inside of this scat? Maybe you see some

berries. Maybe you might see some shells or different things like that.

Would you say this is a pincher or a plopper? Maybe a little bit pinchy ploppy

looking. So this animal might eat plants and it also might eat animals.

It's an omnivore. So this scat can be found pretty commonly, and it can be

filled with lots of different things depending on what it likes eat, because

this animal is an omnivore. But it also is what I like to call an "opportunivore,"

because they will eat pretty much anything. Now some of you might be

thinking, I know what this is, but hold it in until we get to that slide. This

animal has really adapted well to our urban environment, so they aren't

just in our parks. They're in your neighborhoods. They're all around. If you

think you've seen one of these animals before, put your finger on your nose.

Alright, so these are the tracks of this animal. You can see we've got the

front and the back track, and they look almost like hands and fingers. And, in

fact, this animal can actually take its food, and it will wash it in streams

sometimes. They have very human-like fingers, and along stream banks is one

of the places where it's really easy to find these tracks. Now we're

going to go ahead and we're going to listen to some sounds. - Chirping and animals noise -

Alright. Take all those clues. By Jove, I think I've got it!

It is a...raccoon! If you guessed raccoon, go ahead and put up your raccoon mask.

This masked marauder, you've probably seen one of these before, maybe in

your neighborhood. That coloration that they have isn't just because

they're a little bandit who likes to steal our food and our garbage, but

they're quite handy, but it actually helps them disguise. Usually, when do you

see raccoons? You usually see them during the dusk time. Yeah, when day is

turning to night, kind of like right around this time. These animals

have what's called disruptive coloration, and raccoons actually can kind of blend

in with the shadows, where they move around. Or sometimes you see them in

broad daylight... and they are eating your food. Alright, you all are doing an

excellent job. We've already gotten a couple of different ones, but we've got a

lot more to go. Now, when you're walking along the trail, you might see these

piles of sticks. These big like cone-shaped piles - if you've seen one of these before

you might have wondered "What in the world is this pile of sticks? What made this?"

Now, the animal that makes these piles of sticks gather some around and they can

be really old. They've actually dated some of these, because this animal

goes to the bathroom, and it goes out the back, and I'll show you a picture of the

scat in a moment, because that's what I do. They've actually dated the urine

that's come out the back that has made layers, and they've dated it and found some of

these nests are actually over 50 years old. This animal has different rooms,

like a room with a kitchen, a room where it sleeps, and it can also bring in

things like bay leaves to help keep other pests and things out of their

nests. You often will find them on the ground, but sometimes they also can be

found in trees as well. Some of the males, or the

younger of this animal, build their nests high up in the trees. This is the most

obvious thing they leave behind. If you were to get closer to their nests, you

might see scat, but I don't recommend that you get close, because another thing

that likes to hang out by these nests are ticks. And ticks are not something

that you want to get! So this animal builds a big nest,

it likes to pack lots of different things into it, and it has lots of

different rooms. If you were to say - is that a pincher or a plopper? Mm-hmm

Alright, that's all the clues I'm going to give you. By Jove, I think I've got it. It is a ...

rat! But a very special kind of rat. This is a dusky footed wood rat. A dusky footed wood

rat, I think, looks like a cuter version of the Norway rat, which we most commonly

see in our cities and such. You can see that the dusky footed wood

rat is actually pretty elusive. It's hard to find and see. I've never seen one, even

though I've seen hundreds of dusky footed wood rat nests. You can see this

is a nighttime shot of one so these animals. Even if you sat and watched

outside of their nests for quite a long time, you may just not even see one. But

the next time you're on the trail, keep your eyes out for those piles of sticks. I

know if you hike at Anthony Chabot and at Tilden and at Reinhardt Redwood, and in so

many different parks, you will see these these nests. Alright, if you're walking

along the trail, you might see just a little pile of bones. You look a little

bit closer, and there's some fur. Now you might just think maybe an animal

died there, but then you see something that's formed a little bit more

compactly. This animal actually catches its prey with its talons, and

catches it and eats it whole - bones and everything, bones and fur. Then it

swallows it, and then it regurgitates it out, and this pellet ends up on the

forest floor. Sometimes it ends up in barns, and there are certain places where

you know that these animals live or like to hang out because you'll see

so many of these pellets left behind. Now these animals have lots of different

unique sounds, and that's another thing that we more typically hear, than see, but

they are definitely definitely out there. So we're going to listen to a couple of

different sounds. Screech, Chatter,

Animal Noises.

Alright, you ready? By Jove, I think I've got it! It is an....

owl. Excellent. We heard three different owl calls there. We heard a barn owl, and then we

also heard a great horned owl, and then we also heard a screech owl. Now here in

our East Bay Regional Park District, we have so many different kinds of owls, and

some naturalists actually lead owl walks, so you can keep your eyes out for those

in the future. Owls are one of those things that if you see one, it feels

really special. They're really beautiful creatures that are so well

adapted to living at night. In fact, they have eyes, that if our eyes were as big

as theirs, they would be almost the size of grapefruits! Also, their wing feathers

are silent, so they're soft and muffled and silent. Their ears

are not in the same spot - there's one a little bit higher than the other,

so that way when they listen, they can triangulate the sound. They can

actually hear the sound and figure out where their prey is. They are such

incredible nighttime predators, and one of my favorite things to hear if I'm

lucky enough to see out in our parks. Alright, so we've got our owl. Next up. Now,

this one is a little bit more mysterious, and it might be something you haven't

even noticed before. You may pick up a stick on the forest floor, and it looks

like it has little carvings in it. And these little carvings look kind of

intricate, and sometimes you'll see a line right along where a lot of little

pathways are coming out. That line is where all of the eggs of this animal are

laid. It's called a gallery, and when the gallery of eggs hatches, they all munch,

munch, munch their way through the wood. You can see the patterns are

extraordinary and some of the big logs in our parks,

you can actually see them. At the Anthony Chabot Family Campground, there are some

logs right near the campfire center where you can see this animal's carvings,

except they're not really carvings. They're just tunnels where they have

chewed through. That's all I'm going to give you on that one!

Alright! By Jove, I think I've got it! It is a....

Bark beetle! There are a lot of different species of bark beetles that are out there, and it's

kind of hard to tell what kind, because you don't always find the bark beetle. But, this is

one of those things, when you pick up a stick, it's not just a stick! There are so

many more things happening, if you just slow down and look a little bit closely.

You might have to peel the bark off of the stick on the ground to find these

bark beetle tunnels, but never peel bark off of a living tree to look for this.

Usually a living tree wouldn't have bark beetle tunnels, because there

wouldn't be much for them to munch on yet. Alright. You all are doing a great

job. We've got some more animals from all over the East Bay. More scat! If you

look at this scat, it's kind of furry looking. It's got some fur in it. Now even

before then, if you were to say - is it a pincher or a plopper? You can see this

is a stretched out, kind of pinched looking scat, and it is filled with fur.

We know that this is a meat-eater. This is a meat-eater. Now, this animal you

can see, has left behind some tracks. If you look closely at these tracks, you

might notice that there are some claws. I want you to think about, if you

have a pet animal, maybe you have a dog or maybe you have a cat, which one of

those animals can pull their claws in and which one can't? If you look here,

you can see that these claws cannot be pulled in. They do not have retractable

claws. If you think that this track comes from an animal related to a cat,

I want you to meow like a cat. If you think it is from an animal

related to a dog, I want you to bark like a dog. Yeah, so this is a track from an

animal that is related to a dog. Cats can pull their claws in and dogs can't, so

that's one of the easy ways that you can tell the difference between tracks.

There's a lot of other different things as well, but that's one of the main ways.

You can also see there's a human track as well, with some tires.

Now we're going to listen to some sounds of this animal, and I want you to listen.

They've got some different kinds of sounds. *Animal Noises*

Alright. By Jove, I think I've got it! It is a ...

coyote! So here in the East Bay we do not have wolves, we have coyote. Coyote are another one of

those animals, like raccoons, that have been very, very good at capitalizing on

urban development. They aren't too afraid to come into cities and things. Some of

you might have heard some of the stories of them coming into San Francisco during

shelter in place. These coyotes are kind of like dogs - your dogs might have

actually responded to them. But the thing is, is that there's a couple differences.

Dogs, when you think about their tracks, are kind of wandering all over the place.

Coyote have what's called "perfect step," where they're stepping in the footstep

of their paw print in front of them. They are common and it's

important, when certain times of year, when coyote are a little bit more active,

for you to keep your dogs on leash in order to keep them safe. An animal like a

coyote is not interested in attacking you or me or any of our animals, but

sometimes when we're in their territory, in their home, they

sometimes can act a little bit different and we can sometimes feel afraid. But you

don't need to be afraid of coyote, you can just respect them from a distance

because they're not out there to hurt you. They're actually omnivores, and they

eat things like rabbits, and they eat things like mice, and they'll even eat

things like grasshoppers and berries. They've got a really diverse diet,

depending on what is out there for them to eat. Now, this scat when you look at

this - pincher or plopper? It's a pincher, so we know that this animal eats meat. And if

you look closely at the scat, it's a little bit different.

There isn't any fur in there... something that's almost scale like. This animal

likes to eat fish! Not only does it like to eat fish,

it also likes to eat crayfish. This animal spends its time in the water. It

does come out on land, and can move around on land, but it can and does spend

most of its time in the water. We're going to look at a track of this animal. Now,

this actually shows a little bit of the webbed paw that it has, that

allows it to move through the water really easily and really well. It's

not super common to find these tracks. You're more likely to see the scat. I've

actually found scat at Lake Temescal as I've been walking around, because this

animal lives there! Something you're more likely to see are kind of what are

called slides, where these animals will slide down into the river or into the

lake or the creek that they're hanging out in. That's a pretty incredible

thing to be able to see that. We've actually got several parks that have

this animal. It's a water living animal, and we know it eats meat,

and we know that it can come up on land. Another thing to know is that this

animal, it is one that was gone for quite a long time from the Bay Area and only

in the last ten years or so has started to make a comeback...and they're one of my

favorites. Alright! By Jove, I think I've got it it! It is an...

Otter! So, this is a river otter and we have river otters here in

Lake Temescal, Lake Anza, they've showed up in Jewel Lake, Big Break -

they're all around. They're really, really kind of elusive. Sometimes you'll

see them and they'll hang around for a while. At Lake Temescal they actually

had pups a few years ago, and they are such incredible creatures. You can

watch for ripples on the water to look for them, but the best thing to do is

really to look for the evidence, because it's pretty lucky to see these otters.

Some naturalists I know have never seen the Otters at

Lake Temescal - I've been lucky to see them a few times. We've gone

from land to water, we've gone from the sky to down low. We've seen all sorts of

different things. Let's see - oh, there's, I forgot about this, we've got there's some

of the otter pictures taken from Lake Temescal - they had cameras up.

This track is a little bit different. It's a little bit shiny and it can be a

little bit sticky. Not all tracks are footprints. Some of them are slime left

behind, and this animals slime is actually super unique because

it's not a liquid or a solid, it's its own phase. It's super sticky and

also this animal can drop down from the forest heights in the redwoods and it

can drop down on a slime cord down to the forest floor. These animals are

one of the largest of their kind in the whole world - they're actually the second

largest. And that's all I'm gonna give you, is that slimy clue! Alright, more

slime. By Jove, I think I've got it! It is a....

Banana slug! So banana slugs, if you were to see their

scat, because I like to talk about scat, it actually would come out of that

hole on the side of its head it's called a pneumostome, and it's a detritivore,

which means it eats things that are already dead and decomposing. They

actually add nutrients to the soil, so they're a really important part of our

habitat and adding to the health of our forests. Not to mention I really like

them. If you look high into the sky, you might see these trees that

have hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of holes in them, and these

holes are stuffed full of acorns. These acorns are put very carefully into

these holes. This animal isn't always actually going

to go back for the acorns, but might actually go back for the grubs

or the insects that actually end up in the acorn. They'll also eat

them as well. These spots where there are thousands of

acorns stored are called granaries, and the granaries can be food for so many

of these different animals. We're going to listen to this animal and the

calls that they make. *Animal noises*

This is another one that's super common in a lot of our parks as well.

By Jove, I think I've got it! It is an...

Acorn woodpecker! You can see he's got that acorn right there in his beak, and

you can see it's got that red cap which distinguishes it. You can see it's

grabbing on with its talons to hold on, and then putting those acorns into the

granary. Acorn woodpeckers, like I said, are a pretty common one. You'll hear them

and you'll see their really distinctive white and black feathers and

you'll see them flying around high up in the trees. Often they are in trees

that are no longer alive because they're putting those acorns in, so it's a little

bit easier to spot them than some of the ones hiding in the branches.

Back to scat. So this scat - pincher or plopper?

It's a pincher for sure, and it looks pretty similar to coyote scat, right? But

there are a couple of different things that are going to help you distinguish it

from coyote scat. One of the things that can help distinguish it from coyote scat

is sometimes they'll have scrapes around the scat and when you think about your

animals at home again, which one of your animals buries their scat? Your cat or

your dog? Meow, if you think your cat. Bark, if you think your dog. Yeah, your cat is

more likely to bury the scat, and this is scat from a cat. Now to affirm that, you

can also look at the tracks, and if you look, you can see there are no distinct

marks of claws, so that tells us this is a cat. Now if you're looking at the size

of this, you can see for size comparison, we've got that compass right there. This

track isn't that big, it's not too much bigger than your cat's track would be.

So that should give you a hint to the size. We're going to listen to some sound and the

sounds, to be honest, sound a lot louder than you would expect.

**Animal Noises**

By Jove, I think I've got it! It is a...

Bobcat! Bobcats are one of those things that you don't actually see all that often, or

at least I don't see them too often out in our East Bay hills, but when you do,

they're such a treat. They've got those pointy little ears, and then you can also

see they have their short bob tail. They weigh about 25 pounds, so bigger than a

house cat for sure. You can see those big strong muscular legs. You can also

see that the color of them really helps them camouflage into their surroundings.

A bobcat would eat something like a mouse or a rat. Also, they could eat

rabbits as well. Something that is this small isn't interested in attacking you

either. Bobcats, one of my favorite things to spot. Alright, it's a pile of

dirt. That's right. This one, you might have seen in your yard or in your

neighborhood. And maybe if you have a garden, you really don't like this one.

You can actually really tell what animal it is because you can see it

actually has closed up its hole right there, and that tells you a little bit

about this animal. If you're a gardener, you probably already know what this is!

I'm just going to leave it at that. By Jove, I think I've got it! It is a...

Pocket Gopher! These pocket gophers are quite

industrious. They can dig tunnels that connect all together, and you'll see them

absolutely destroy. They'll pull plants down, and eat them, but you've got

to hand it to them, they're pretty good at what they do. Alright,

now this scat right here. I know this is a drawing and not a picture, but I want

you to look at what that says. It says nine and a half inches. That's a big

piece of scat. And, is it a pincher or a plopper? Definitely a pincher. This is

really big scat, though this next picture is, I'm not gonna lie to you, kind of

disgusting. But, I've seen this animal scat in real life

and it's pretty gnarly. Alright, here it is. I warned you. So, that's a really big

pile of scat, and we know this is a meat-eater. We're going to look at a

track. You can see how large this track really is. And if you look up close -

claws or no claws? No claws. So that means this is a cat. This is a big cat. This

animal is out there, and it is not commonly seen. In fact, this animal is

more likely to see you, than for you to see it. We'll talk a little bit more

about that, but let's listen to some sounds of this animal.

Alright. By Jove, I think I've got it! It is a ...

Mountain Lion. So this is one of those animals that a lot of people are really quite afraid of, but really I like

to tell people it's important for us to respect these animals, but not to be

afraid of them. We should be understanding of what they

are and know that nothing out there does want to hurt us. Mountain lions are

prey specific, so they really are only interested in eating deer, and lucky for

us, there's a lot of deer that are out there! One thing I always like to tell

people is, it's so incredible that we live in such an urban place, and in such

an urban place we still have habitat for mountain lions.

Mountain lions that we hear of, that we're a little bit afraid of, are often

juvenile teenagers, out looking for new territory, and that's when they get into

a little bit of trouble. Sounds familiar, right? So, I always tell people, mountain

lions are not something to fear, but to revere. They're really special animals

that we should feel really privileged still call the East Bay home. One thing

to say, if you ever do come across a mountain lion, and let me tell you I've

been living where there are mountain lions for over a dozen years, hiking at

dawn and dusk, when you might expect to see them, and I have never seen a

mountain lion, but if you were, they say that you should act really big and loud.

If you can remember to sing a song, sing happy birthday, because you're not

going to forget that, and sing really loud, and be really big to scare that mountain

lion away. But the important thing to know is mountain lions aren't interested

in hurting you or me. We're in their homes, and so if you see one, just

remember those instructions, and to be respectful of their habitat.

Alright, so we've got one more animal that we are going to talk about. This

animal is unique because it leaves behind quite prominent trails wherever

it goes, and these prominent trails are often along really beautiful corridors,

where there's lots of really incredible scenery and things to look at. Now, this

animal has adapted in a way that it actually doesn't always like to eat its

food raw. It actually will cook its food over something called "fire." Often they

also have devised some different things to heat their food as well, some

different methods. Now for some reason this animal leaves behind markings that

are quite unique, and honestly destructive to their environment.

We're not quite sure why they leave these markings, and our hope is that as

as they continue to evolve, they might stop doing this. These animals can be

found in all kinds of different climates, not just in the East Bay, but also in

areas where there is snow, and they'll leave behind this kind of track, which we

call a "snow angel." This snow angel is a pretty unique thing that these animals

do. This animal also leaves behind tracks that have five toes, and this

track actually is called, is actually from a female of this species, and this

is actually a female size ten of this species in track.

You may be wondering, Morgan, you have shown us several pictures of scat this

evening. Are you going to show us a picture of this scat? Well, let me tell

you that this animal is very strange about its scat.

It's very secretive. It's actually created an entire room dedicated to its

scat, and even has built a throne to its scat.

Alright? You ready? By Jove, I think I've got it! It is a....

Human! That's right, it's all of you. Human beings are one of those animals that we actually see their

tracks all over the place. Human beings leave behind tracks of the good things

that they've done, the plants that they've planted. They've also left behind

tracks of beautiful buildings and different things, but unfortunately,

they've also left behind tracks that aren't so great sometimes. They've left

behind tracks like trash, and sometimes they left behind tracks like trails

where there shouldn't be trails. One thing I encourage you as a human being

is to not leave behind any tracks, but just leave behind footsteps and to take

your memories with you and to leave things in the forest behind. Because even

if you don't see the animals, they are out there and they are leaving

behind signs for all of us. All we need to do is to slow down and to appreciate

all of the amazing wildlife that is here in the East Bay hills, in the East Bay

lowlands, in the East Bay parks. I want to thank you all so much for joining me

today for our campfire program. I hope that you've learned a little bit about

some of these animals, and I hope that you've learned that even though we might

not see them, these animals are all around us. Even though we can't be

together at a campfire program in a campground tonight, I hope that you feel

together as part of the East Bay Regional Park District. Thank you so

much, and I hope that you have a great evening... and it's time to eat s'mores!

Nocturnal time, wake up with a screech and use my night vision to see. Nocturnal

time, time to leave the nest, I built in this woodpecker's tree. So, don't make

too much racket or you'll scare away the rabbits and the foxes will nothing to eat

I know what I want to eat tonight, frogs

and flies and fish and furry mice. I know what I want to eat tonight, eat tonight.

Nocturnal time, bats are all around me using echolocation to eat. Nocturnal time, foxes

on the ground are out looking for some rabbit meat. So little creatures scatter, or

you'll be on the dinner platter as some carnivores midnight treat. I know what I

want to eat tonight. Frogs and flies and fish and furry mice. I know what I want

to eat tonight, eat tonight.

Nocturnal time, I've got adaptations that help me fly without a sound. Nocturnal time, my

silent wing feathers help me catch food that is on the ground.

I use my sharp talons and my pointy curved beak, to eviscerate the food I've found.

I know what I want to eat tonight. Frogs and flies and fish and furry mice. I know wanna want to eat tonight, eat tonight.

Have a good night y'all!