As you can see, this very, very bad squirrel was digging away under the planter box (since he couldn't get through the mesh wire fencing) and would tunnel up through the other side to reach the goodies.
Back again, later in the afternoon for round two.
A squirrel's work is never done. Not to be outwitted, Gil eventually ended up pouring mortar around the base of the planter to fortify it against this industrious little digger. It ain't pretty, but it's worked so far.
With the squirrel now unmasked and temporarily deterred, we moved the camera over to our next unsolved mystery: the partially gnawed fruits on our Scarlet Robe peach tree. I was inclined to think it was the work of more squirrels. But, after about 3 days and a couple hundred shots from the critter cam, we had an interesting revelation about what goes on after dark around the grounds. First and foremost, we discovered that there's a non-stop bunnypalooza in the orchard that carries on from dusk till dawn. Looking at the time stamps on all the pictures, it is quite clear that rabbits don't sleep at night, AT ALL!
These shots indicate that the bunnies are out in force, every hour on the hour, from 8:00pm to 8:00am:
After an all-nighter, still bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 8:02am.
Well, clearly, the rabbits were grazing on the fruits that had fallen on the ground and on some of the lower leaves of the peach tree. They certainly weren't climbing like monkeys or jumping like Kangaroos to gnaw on the fruits in the upper branches. On closer scrutiny of some of the photos, however, we believe we found the culprit.
If you look closely, you can see what looks like a rat on the irrigation tubing near the base of the peach tree.
There's the rat-like critter scuttling past the base of the peach tree again.
And there he goes, up into the peach tree (see tell-tale naked tail).
Case solved! The rat did it. We ended up picking all the damaged fruit and just leaving them on the ground for the rodents, rabbits, and whatnot to eat at will. This worked to distract these guys from rest of the fruits on the tree until we were able to harvest the remaining crop.
In the mix were some incidental/accidental shots of some other critters:
Another coyote, upper right.
Ok, this guy (to left of peach tree) does not look like a rat rat. That tail makes me think of a Kangaroo rat, and the hind legs look kinda longish. But then again, the picture is not clear enough to confirm the ID.
So hard to see, but there's the backside of that Kangaroo rat-like rodent (look to the left of the head of the bunny in the forefront). That tail just looks like it has that crest of longer hairs at the end, which could be indicative.
In the meantime, we've reset the camera to a trail near a chaparral stand at the front of the property to see what passes by. Last Monday, there was a notice taped to our mailbox warning that a female mountain lion and two cubs were spotted several times in the vicinity of our property. Just gotta use common sense and take the normal precautions. Would be so awesome if they sauntered past our critter cam for a cameo!