Hidden Wildlife On Salt Creek

Steven Speicher
August 16, 2013

Just at the northern edge of Lincoln, passing underneath the bustling Interstate 80 lays Little Salt Creek. This little rivulet is perfect example of the many backdoors that city dwellers seldom take the time to step through. Many would assume Little Salt Creek to be little more than a small stream for water to run through with no more than the occasional duck along it. Though it lies only a few yards from a gravel road, which frequently growls with single car traffic through the mornings and afternoon, it is filled with a more life than I could have guessed.

This last fall and winter, I placed camera traps around Salt Creek, trying to find with sort of life was hiding in plain sight.

On my first visit to little Salt Creek, I unloaded from the car and made my way down towards the grassy banks. After taking that first step over the hill, a pair of Mallards sprung out from the water noticing a strange visitor. I walked along through the tall grass hill on one side, following deer trails a few hundred yards to get an idea of the new landscape. Proven by the spooked Mallards, I knew I’d be able to capture the most wildlife if I removed myself from behind the camera and used an infrared camera trap, which would remotely capture an image whenever its beam was tripped by passing wildlife, or blowing grass as I quickly learned. I placed my camera along the deer trail I had followed and left it to run for the following week.

Like many first attempts, my first week brought no images of wildlife along the creek. I followed the deer trail further down the creek, this time down to the floor of the river. I placed my camera at the foot of what appeared to be a funnel for wildlife traffic from the banks to the water, littered with raccoon tracks and hoof prints; I knew this location would bring more results. Once again I staked my camera down, and left it to take its images for another week.

This time my efforts brought something back. The camera shot dozens of photos of raccoons scurrying along the creek’s bank or looking straight into the camera surprised by the click of the shutter it had never seen or heard before, ducks floating down stream in small flocks, and killdeer picking through the muddy banks for food. Though they were nothing exotic in terms of wildlife, it was still exciting to know something existed along this creek and it simply took patience and diligence to see.

Since my first success I have continued to uncover new images every time I go to check and download the camera. Now I also have pictures of Muskrats, Skunks, Deer, Coyotes, and Mink. There are few things that can compare to finding photos on the camera of an animal stumbling perfectly into frame.

I plan to keep capturing new images as the seasons continue to change, for who knows what else might be waiting out along Salt Creek, just a step outside into Lincoln’s backyard.

One of the first captures from my camera – a clearly startled Raccoon, about to make his way back up the hill. Photo by Steven Speicher.

A duck searches for food in the muddy banks of the creek, a nice break from the many other shots of ducks floating in the water. Photo by Steven Speicher.

One of the first big surprises for me was this photo of a skunk. I’ve seen him walking along the top of the banks during a few visits out a night, but never back in front of the camera. Photo by Steven Speicher.

A buck hops over the camera before making his way further down creek, no doubt the largest species of wildlife to wander in front of the camera. Photo by Steven Speicher.

A coyote makes his way across a partially frozen creek bed, carefully pawing at the ice to find water to drink. Photo by Steven Speicher.

A mink looks into the camera as it comes down from the snowy banks to the creek. Finally caught muddy pawed, the mink had been something I was hoping to find for quite a while. Photo by Steven Speicher.

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We are a group of storytellers using timelapse photography and multimedia storytelling to explore watersheds. PBT has been in motion since 2011.

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