Saturday, November 19, 2011

Where the Wild Things Are

The wild things are in our swamp, in front of the trail camera. Our camera has captured, so far, many deer and raccoons, one opossum, several coyotes, three different bears, and one bobcat. Oh, and two horses who are now, hopefully, locked out of the swamp. Jessie Anne seemed to delight in putting her nose on the trail camera and fogging it up.

I cannot figure out how to capture individual frames of the videos to print as stills. I think I need more sophisticated programs than I have on my computer. Or at least a more sophisticated, tech savvy, computer operator. Birder friend LaVon told me she solved the problem by taking photos of her camera videos on her television set. I thought that was a great idea so went to all the trouble of moving our trail camera videos to a CD (it took me hours since I am computer illiterate)... only to realize a CD is not the same thing as a DVD and cannot be played in our DVD player and viewed on our television. I have watched my camera videos on the tv, but it has ports (or something) for connecting to the VCR.

LaVon said she had never had luck taking photos of the video captures on a computer because the pixils (or something) show up and make funny lines. Well, she's right.

Having failed at the television angle, I took photos of the video frames I wanted on the computer, in as many different ways as I could dream up. Some of the wavy lines that appear in the images are quite attractive, but do make it difficult to tell what wild thing one is looking at. Here are the shots that are the best I've come up with so far.... at least they are recognizable. I have no clue what to do about the big white eyes. I have now reset the camera to 24 hour surveillance instead of night time only, so perhaps day time videos will provide better images. The still shots the camera has taken the one night we set it for stills were pretty awful. It's tough to get a wild thing to pose for the camera.

Three different bucks have appeared in our videos: a 3 point, a spike, and a 5 point.

It's more difficult to tell the does apart, but one has twin fawns, as seen on the left.

Everyone can likely recognize the fat coyote, fat opossum and fat raccoon in photos above.

Our original reason for buying a trail camera last year was to capture photos of the bears that were leaving their calling cards all over our lawn. So it was nice to have photos of them that we didn't have to take by leaning out the bedroom window in the middle of the night. We knew there were at least two different bears in the neighborhood, because we had seen Three Foot in the pear tree by our house and a smaller bear in the orchard. But we had never seen Big Bear until he appeared in our trail camera by the swamp. And we thought Three Foot was big. This fellow is huge.

Below left is the first bear who appeared in our camera. A video of him is on an earlier blog:
Compare him with Big Bear, on the right and in the video above.

I can't help having a soft spot in my heart (head?) for Three Foot, the bear that raided our pear tree, ripped open our dog food container, and destroyed a sack of chicken food. He has a mangled right front paw that he holds off the ground. There are still remnants of claws on the foot, and we have seen him hang on to the pear tree while picking pears with one front foot, so he manages. But when he turns right, as he is in two of these stills, he lurches to keep all that weight over his other three legs.

It was exciting to finally see a bobcat appear in a video this morning. We know they are around as we and neighbors have seen them, but they are not as bold as coyotes or bears. This one stood and stared at the camera the entire 30 seconds of the video, slinking away at the end. The cat's eyes are about half the size they appear here. I have no idea why they look like this in the video.

We have also seen skunks and porcupines on our farm, neither of which have yet appeared in our trail camera. And we know at least one cougar visits our neighborhood occasionally. I'm not at all sure I want to see him in the camera. If I do, I might be a bit hesitant about going back into the swamp, where the wild things are, to retrieve the camera card.

Addendum: After reading this blog entry, friend Toni sent this news release:

"The word is out! Auditions are now being held at Fink Family Farm on the new Wild Animal Trail Camera site. Although originally searching for wild nocturnal animals, the producers of this popular reality show have discovered new talent in well-known domestic animals who made surprise appearances during the auditions. Further attempts at gate crashing of this sort is, however, being strongly discouraged. Would-be stars should be advised that casting is complete for the "Three Bears" and "Bambi" episodes, as well as "The Masked Bandits", but the search is still on to find that "special someone" to fill each of the starring roles in "Stinky and Pokey, Lost in the Swamp." Another major project awaiting production, "The Big Cats," has been temporarily sidelined due to an accident on the set. Although officials would not confirm or deny it, a rumor has been circulated that one of the co-stars was so overwhelmed by the opportunity of performing with THE BIG CAT that, when he first saw him on site, his eyes literally popped out of his head. We will keep you posted on his condition, but at press time, his eyes still had that totally "gone" look."


  1. These are so cool. It is so great that we can live in proximity with something as huge as a bear or lovely as a bobcat and rarely see it. In my 18 plus years of living in Sheridan in the woods, I saw a bobcat only once, and I was about 5 years old, walking to the outhouse in the middle of the night. I saw coyote, lots of dear, a few elk, some raccoon, possum, and only saw a porcupine one time while hiking Spirit Mountain with your gang.
    My mom saw her first bear on our property this last year, but I imagine they have been there all along. That is a really big bear----but I am glad it is out there.

  2. I thought I already left a comment here but...anyway, I was very excited to discover your blog--it does my heart good do see these wild animals! I love the trail camera idea and what you've captured with it.

  3. Hi, just curious as to what kind of camera you are using, as I am interested in buying one. Thanks in advance & love your photos!

  4. Michel, ours is a Wildgame Innovations Model #IR8X, but I just bought the simplest I could find because we are technologically challenged. We have to charge up the battery frequently but maybe that's because we have it set for videos instead of stills.