Saturday, September 21, 2013

TamCam Trail Camera

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Well, I was pretty happy to find that my very first camera-trap subject was a bobcat. That's gotta be a good omen for things to come. This guy walked through in the middle of the day, the same day I set out my new camera. I set the camera out last Sunday near a water trough, figuring the trail was unlikely to be used by hikers before I would return the following Saturday.



I was quite mistaken about that! A group of hikers stopped by and in the course of two minutes tripped 54 frames on the camera, which is set to fire off three fast frames then wait five seconds before being tripped again. The hikers obviously spotted the trail camera, but thankfully did not mess with it. My plan is to set the camera where humans won't set it off, but if they do, I will delete those images. It seems like poor etiquette to camera-trap people; it's not like I work for the NSA.

The young coyote appears to have been enticed within range by something in the brush, but he never showed his face. 



Buck number one passed by in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. 

The info strip at the bottom of the frame can be turned off, but I like having it.



I wonder if it was birds that set off the camera a bunch of times, only to leave an empty frame. The camera will fire about 0.8 seconds after being triggered by movement, but I figure a bird can fly through too quickly even for such a brief delay. I caught this flicker as well as a junco (who set off numerous frames while hopping about in a tree before finally swooping toward the water trough -- a bathtub complete with rubber duckies), but I had a lot of frames with no animals at all. I suppose the wind-blown vegetation might also have set it off a few times.



This is buck number 2, who took this selfie in the wee hours of Friday morning. Both deer (and the coyote and bobcat) were caught in the fast three frames but were gone before the camera did its 5-second reset. 



I'd like to think this was an owl that swooped in really fast. The next frame shows just a tiny bit of the animal in the upper right corner (also blown out), and the third frame was empty. Rather than an owl, though, it's probably the same buck (note the time), moving toward the water trough.



It was raining when I returned to pick up the camera on Saturday morning. That's an umbrella in my left hand. I took the camera down and brought it back to the Jeep, swapped a new SD card for the old one, and set the camera in a new spot for the coming week. 

The camera is a Moultrie M-880 and costs about $150. Each image is an 8 megapixel JPEG, about 1MB in size. In just one week, I didn't even put a dent in the 32GB SD card I started with. I replaced it with my only other SD card, an 8GB, and I'm sure that'll be fine. The camera runs on eight AA batteries that will last for months.

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6 comments:

  1. Great shots John. I have always wanted to set up one of these cameras. Now I can live vicariously through yours!

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    1. I see one in your future, Alan! Sure is fun to "open the presents" and see what I've got -- reminds me of getting a box of slides back from the lab.

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  2. Congrats on getting the trail camera. You'll probably find it very addicting like many of us. That Bobcat photo has good resolution. Enough to tell its a male. In the words of the Codger, "High and tight, but still in sight."

    Birds can certainly set off the camera and then fly out of the set leaving you with an empty frame, but so can grass blowing in the wind, or Western Fence lizards that have been sitting in the sun (and therefore are warmer than the background temps). If you have more than one blank photo in a row, its likely the wind playing tricks on your IR sensor.

    Owl would have been awesome, but thats the buck IMHO.

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    1. I didn't realize how addicting it would be, and now I find myself wanting a few more cameras to set around.

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  3. I must have missed somewhere where you were going to get a trail camera. Pretty neat I say. The thrill of seeing what you caught, I can relate to that. On a side note, a fellow runner friend of mine stopped by as I was cleaning up the RV from our last desert trip this past weekend. He tells me he came across his first mountain lion in Annadel last week while running the trails up there. They both just stopped and stared at each other for close to a minute until a mountain biker came by and scared it off. It was a young one, not full sized yet. We've been waiting for years to spot one and he beat me to it. Grrrr... Now how'd you like to see that in your trail camera?

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    1. That would be the motherlode, for sure. I'm also hoping to get a long-tailed weasel. I once found a dead one many years ago, but I have yet to see a live one.

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