Saturday, January 31, 2009

Finally a deer picture

I usually never target deer this time of the year while all the predators and the smaller animals along the river are easier to study, but on occasion a deer will pass by a camera. This is the same location where the elk went by just on the other side of the trail.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tips for game camera photos of Otter

I show a lot of River Otter photos on my blog, mainly because I understand and admire their behavior, plus it gives me a great challenge for trail camera photographs. These are very difficult animals for close up photos.

First thing you need is to be able to identify otter sign along the river and ponds. They usually have certain places they go onto the bank and leave scent for other otters to recognize, they are like a big family. These landings, as I call them, can be far apart and unless you place a camera on the landings you may never get an otter picture.

The photos above give several things to look for to identify a landing. First is the blue circle showing the brown moss killed by the otter leaving a urine scent on the rock. This is very common when an otter is just passing through the area. Next is in the red circle showing where an otter left it's scat on the rock. Otter don't really have a stomach but a spiral intestine, they gorge themselves with food and it doesn't digest completely so I can tell what they eat and from that where they have been. Blue gill scales show they have been in a lake, crawfish bones from creeks and rivers and then eels and salmon.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Elk just off the close trail

This camera was set up close for deer and predators, so I was glad the elk herd decided to use the far trail. Elk are terrible on cameras and especially if they are low to the ground.

It helps to have more daylight for the photos in the timber and can't wait for the warmer weather.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Finally a clear Otter picture

The clear cold weather has been great for my otter landing photos and just in the nick of time. They should be leaving the river and looking for dens along the creeks and ponds to get ready to have their pups. Sometimes the female will allow the male to help raise the young but others will keep the male away.

I ended up with 5 different families of otter and 4 lone otters checking out the landing, the males were the loners looking for a mate and the families had from one to four pups each.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Frost Flowers"

Not a game camera photo, but had to take a picture because it's so beautiful and gone so quickly.

I've seen this in the woods for years in the winter and never was able to get a true identification. I stumbled onto a great website ... was given an answer within minutes. Fantastic website for anything you wish to learn about plants and more.
The "Frost Flower" is formed as water is drawn out of cracks in the wood by capillary action and freezes upon contact with the cold air.

Will check the cameras on the mouse trail and otter landing thursday for more updates.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The best use of your game camera

I'm sure some people wonder why anyone would set a game camera on a mouse trail as I did in the 2 previous posts. But to be a good hunter or gain more knowledge about wildlife, you must know how to recognize animal sign, whether it's tracks, scat or any other reason that would attract an animal to a certain location for a photo.

I wanted to know what type of mouse used the trail, and if the travel is more at night than during the day. I know that mice are food for coyotes, bobcats, hawks, weasels and owls to name a few. Now I can set my cameras up farther away from the trail for larger animals and even find a perch where maybe an owl or hawk will sit looking for food. Because I don't bait animals for my photos I must find their food source and learn how and where they hunt.

So keep your eyes open and study everything in the woods while you walk, if something looks different, then figure out why and set a camera up for a week to solve the mystery. You can be amazed at what you will learn and how you can use this information to better understand nature.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mice on the runway

Well, I lasted 2 days before I had to see if a mouse used the trail. Sometimes it's better to check a new setup and how it worked before waiting a week and finding out that the focus or flash was not correct for a close picture.
I used a Sony P41 and an XLP board for this situation as the XLP is great for close pictures and is very fast to trigger the camera. The focus was set for .5 meters, and the distance was 18 inches to the trail which worked out fine, the flash was set on low and I used a large card in the camera. I learned that mice are fast in a distance of 20 inches, which is the field of view for the P41 at a distance of 18 inches. I ended up with 4 pictures of mice out of 49 total photos, which is fine with me without using any bait.
Now for the interesting part, as I believe there are several different species of mice. Identification of mice is certainly not my field of expertice, so a little help is needed. Do different kinds of mice live together and use the same trail?
I had to crop the first photo even though is was close but I think it is a deer mouse or kangaroo mouse, the second might be the same, but the last apears to be some type of shrew.
Edit: I was close but no cigar today. Camera Trap Codger identified all photo is a deer mouse....middle is a shrew... and the bottom is a meadow mouse. The Codger is a master in animal identification.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Otter came back right after the flood

Seems the otter came back as soon as the water went down four or five feet. Getting a good clear picture has turned into a difficult task this year or I was lucky in the previous years. With all the rain the digital cameras pick up all the fog and rain drops that show up as small circles in the photos, I just need a sharp clear picture of a family of otter so I can identify as many otter as possible.

The first photo in the snow was taken before the flood and the nice male otter looking at the camera was after the flood. I still have some time before the females head for a den to have their pups, so maybe we can get some good weather.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Active Field Mouse trail

Found this fresh trail in an opening where a field mouse is using quite often, so I'm testing different settings on my cameras so I can get a closeup of a fast mouse. I have an Olympus 380 that is very fast and trying to see how long the batteries will last in a Sony P41 if left in the on position all the time for a fast trigger speed. All I need is for the batteries to last a couple of days. I believe a little grated cheese will slow it down some and get it to smile at the camera.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Flood water covered the otter landing and camera

The heavy snow and then the warm rain caused severe flooding in western Washington so it was difficult to check a few cameras I had set on the upper Toutle river for otter. Was quite concerned about the camera getting wet and what I saw was amazing. The camera must have been under water for at least several hours and most likely 5 or 6 hours.
The deer photo was taken on the January 2 at 9:50 PM, after that the camera filled the card with 69 pictures of the high water on January 7th. The river crested 10 hours after the last high water picture and the high water marks on the bank were a foot over the top of the camera.

The camera was dry inside the case and the Yeti board still worked, in fact I just changed batteries and left it on the same tree.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Weather looks bad for tree cutters

A non-predicted snow fall did not stop me from setting the camera up for the tree cutters. I do not expect much action till spring or the snow melts, but if you snooze you loose.

I also wanted to try out my camera holder on a rod to use around ponds and creeks. Everything went well and the setup looks like it might provide a good photo within a year or two LOL.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tough setup for beavers

I found this location where beavers have been climbing up onto the vinemaple and cutting down a few new branches to eat the bark and fix the dam. My problem is to try and give enough time for the beaver to climb all the way out onto the vinemaple and begin chewing beore the camera takes a picture.
The easy and first thing I might try is to set the camera on 10 second delay using the delay on the camera, this is easiest but that setting on the camera only works for the first picture, so I will use a board that I know to be a little less sensitive and hope another animal doesn't pass by and trigger the camera. The next choice is to use the XLP board in stealth mode that waits 5 seconds to trigger the camera, but I have only one of those boards and it is being used on an otter landing. The last choice is to use a very small hole or cover the pir lense to a small opening and aim it at the middle of where I want the beaver.

I think I will use a small opening and set the camera on 10 second delay. I will drill a small hole in a piece of plastic and use double sided tape to hold it over the center of the pir hole lense, this will give a small trigger area so I can aim it where I want the animal.