California recent sightings and Channel Islands/SoCal RFI

Hi all,

My family will be staying in Ventura this Thanksgiving and I probably can’t swing an overnighter on Santa Cruz Island, but I was wondering if a day trip would be worth it if Island Foxes are my main goal? Also, is one of the ports better than the other for foxes (or skunks, for future reference)?. Any other decent mammal spots around Ventura? I know Carrizo Plains is a 3-hour drive away. Would that be a worthwhile day trip if I arrive around dawn? Where in Carrizo Plains should one go if their main target is carnivores, pronghorn, and antelope squirrels?


Recent sightings:

On 2 recent trips to Point Reyes, I’ve seen Gray fox in the same location both times. I’ll probably try a third time this weekend to see if I can find it again. Anyone interested in the location can PM me, since I don’t want to disturb it too much if there’s a den around. Both times it was out a few hours after dawn and was pretty tolerant of me following it around for about 40 min:


Other sightings included a bobcat (with perhaps a woodrat in its mouth) along L Ranch road, around 9 coyotes, the usual tule elk and deer, and Botta’s Pocket Gopher. I left in the afternoon both days.

Lake Tahoe: There were plenty of Douglas Squirrels and varied chipmunks around fallen leaf lake. A large Black Bear with a recently hurt paw (missing at least 2 fingers, from an incident with a dumpster, according to some others I met along the path) was catching salmon in Taylor Creek:




  • Venkat Sankar

    I’ve never been to Santa Cruz Island, so I’ll leave that for someone else to answer. For what it’s worth, the foxes are on trails around Scorpion Campground I think and can be seen during the day especially if you take the first boat over. There are a few trip reports of day-trips on this site, so check those out.

    I don’t know any especially good night driving sites around Ventura, but mostly because I haven’t spent much time there… I’ve heard of Ringtail sightings on Highway 33 N of Ojai, and the habitat seems good; thankfully, the moon seems pretty dim over Thanksgiving so that should improve odds. There are apparently high densities of Mountain Lion in that area too, especially in the mountains W of 33 between Wheeler Springs and Ventucopa where the habitat looks great. If you can find a good forest road to night drive in Los Padres NF, it could be productive. Agile Kangaroo Rats are through the whole area, and are common on Frazier Mtn Rd near Chuchupate CG, but I’m sure you could see them elsewhere if it isn’t too cold; Merriam’s Chipmunks are common during the day.

    In Carrizo Plain, Kit Fox and Pronghorn could turn up anywhere–your best chance is just driving Soda Lake Road through the whole park. I find daytime Kit Fox sightings a bit unpredictable, though people see them around the visitor center in the N part of the reserve often. Spotlighting them is usually easy in good habitat, though. Antelope Squirrels are usually around the visitor center/campground, but it needs to warm up a bit so later in the morning is better at this time of year. American Badger is not rare but unpredictable; Panorama and Elkhorn Rds are apparently good, but make sure they’re passable (they’re dangerous to drive after rain)…

  • Vladimir Dinets

    A day trip to Sta Cruz should be enough. There is a pair of foxes at each harbor and they usually show up to greet the visitors.

  • phil telfer

    Hi Nick,

    I spent this Saturday with Charles Hood on Santa Cruz and there were Foxes around pretty much the whole time. We arrived at 9am and left again at 4pm . We reckon we saw between 12 to 16 different animals.
    Aim for Scorpion Harbour at the Eastern end of Santa Cruz, a one hour crossing from Ventura. The Foxes should be easy to see from where you land thru the campgrounds.


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