Saturday, September 21, 2013

TamCam Trail Camera

* * *

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. 

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.

* * *