Wednesday, April 27, 2011


                                                            ~ Dawson ~


It’s with a very heavy heart that I post this entry. My camera trapping partner passed away Sunday afternoon. As those of you that have followed my blog know Dawson was my constant companion in my camera trapping hobby. He liked nothing better than to hop in my old blue pickup and hang his head out the window as we rolled down the road. Checking the cameras was high adventure for him with all of the different sounds and scents he came across in the fields and forests we explored. I think my wife summed it up best….”He had as good a life as a dog could have. He lived like a King.”

                                    Rest in peace buddy. You are sadly missed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Duck Finale

Here's the last of the duck pics before the great flood. I did finally got a couple of Mallards. I think Nancy said the Mallards were her favorite duck. So here you go girl. You can bet there won't be anymore on the pond pics this year ;). If we get any water pics on my cameras for a while it'll have Noah's Ark floating by ;). LOL!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tragic End

The beginning of the end.

As I briefly noted in my Sunday post one of my cameras met a tragic end last Saturday. It got caught in the flooding during the bad storms we had Saturday evening. I had it mounted about 12 to 15” above the pond trying to get pics of the ducks that migrate through each spring. I checked it about 1:00 Saturday afternoon and the pond hadn’t raised any and was handling the rain well. There’s an 24” drain tile at the end to control the water level and an overflow spillway to the side for when the pipe gets about three quarters full. So it can handle a lot of water.  I made the decision to leave the camera in place. Major mistake on my part or as one of my buddies so eloquently likes to put it….”ya dumbass”!!!
The final picture.

We got a LOT of rain in a cloud burst Saturday evening and the pond raised over 12” in a little over an hour and the camera was history. Circuit boards and water don’t play well together. Sadly The Codger had posted earlier last week on his blog about losing a camera to flooding but did I heed the warning…oh noooo. So I have no one to blame but myself for this one :(.

Reconyx Hyperfire
  This lost put me in the market for a new camera. Moultrie doesn’t make this camera anymore or I’d get another one like it since I already have the metal enclosure. The trigger time was the only drawback on this camera. I like the color pics at night so I really don’t want another IR camera. That narrowed my search way down to the visible white flash cameras. I’m having trouble finding one I really like from the few that are available. Each one seems to have something or another I don’t like about it from reading the reviews on various sites. Narrow sensing fields, poor color, slow response time, clunking sound on taking a pic, questionable customer support, etc. etc. I would have probably sprung for a Reconyx if they had a white flash model but they don’t. The Reconyx’s are the Porsches of trail cameras. If my IR camera dies or I manage to kill it I’m definitely going to look at going with a Reconyx to replace it.

Scoutguard SG565
So after a lot of study a Scoutguard SG565 looks like the way to go for a commercial camera. The only problem is a couple of reviews said it has a loud clunk from the filter operating when it takes a pic but it seems to meet the other functions I want. Those of you that follow my blog know I have a Moultrie I-40 IR camera that does make a loud clunk when it takes a pic. My personal experience is that the clunking sound affects the animals far more than the white flash does. One site has a 90 day no questions asked return policy and they assured me ”that in their testing the clunk wasn’t any louder in the Scoutguard than any other camera”. Now does this mean it’s as quiet as the one that got flooded, or are all of the cameras they tested loud, or has Scoutguard solved their clunking problem?  I’m going to mill this over for a few more days before I decide.  While not a huge investment anytime I’m shelling out a couple of hundred bucks I like to be sure I’m getting what I want and expect.

Sony S600
I’m also working on a homebrew that I’m building for a Sony 600 camera but my supplier is having a problem getting a couple of the parts that I need from his suppliers. For those who aren’t familiar with homebrews they are custom made trail camera setups that use point and shoot cameras in a pelican case to take the pictures. Hopefully I will have my homebrew up and running before summer. The Sony 600 gets rave reviews for the quality of pictures you get from it from people that have used them in homebrews. Another advantage of a homebrew camera is you can repair it yourself.  Maybe the homebrew route will be the solution to getting a camera that takes good day and night time color pics with the functions I want and without the other issues. This was probably a lot more information than you really want but hey...I was on a roll and I'm usually not this long winded ;).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Long Beards

Finally got some pics of some of the bigger toms in the neighborhood after spending several weeks only getting some smaller jakes. The one tom looks especially nice with a long beard and full body. But still no one wants to strut for the camera.

Glad everyone liked the "albino" heron in the earlier post :). Got some more nice duck shots that I'll post later this week after I've had time to restore some of my pride and self esteem after a major catastrophe with one of my cameras. I'll give you a small hint....FLOOD :(.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More Ducks

And an albino Heron. Actually I think the Heron was a wee bit close to the flash when the picture was taken ;). I'm a little surprised I haven't got any Mallards. They usually stop for a visit on their way north.

linking in to Nancy's Sunday Best at A Rural Journal

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Does and Gobblers

Been getting a lot of Turkey pics lately. The breeding season is getting cranked up and there’s been a lot of activity. I heard two birds gobbling while I was checking my cameras. The primary breeding period is from mid April through mid May in my area. I’ve been hoping to get some pics of one of the gobblers strutting but I haven’t got any yet. Hopefully over the next month I’ll catch one.

Below are some pics of a group of Does crossing paths with two small gobblers. One of the Does is either very curious about the birds or annoyed they are browsing the same area she is. I’m guessing annoyed.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Hike

A bunch of us got together for our Spring hike this morning. The day didn't start out too promising. We have had bad weather here for the last couple of days with lots of rain and fog. This morning was no different being very damp and foggy. But as we gained elevation the fog lightened and by the time we reached the top of the mountain we were in full sunshine. But has we looked out across the valleys on both sides they were still totally covered in fog with only the distance peaks extending out of the fog. The ridge we hiked didn't have a lot of openings to get pictures from but below are some of the better shots. You can check out this post to see what the valley usually looks like without the fog...Fall Hike.

The first three pics are looking to the south and southeast. The closer ridges are the top of the Massanuttten and the peaks in the distance are the Blue Ridge. The rest of the valley is covered in sea of thick fog.

This pic is looking to the north. Lairds Knob is raising above the fog on the right hand side.
The tops of the Alleghany Mountain can be seen in the distance.

The next two shots are looking to the east into the valley in Page County with the peaks of the Blue Ridge off in the distance.

We got back out of the mountains in the early afternoon and the fog was gone from the valley. The first shot is of Lairds Knob reflecting in a pond at the base of the mountain and the second is the southern end of the Massanutten range.

Overall a day that started out without much promise turned into a pretty enjoyable day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gray Foxes

A couple of Gray Foxes have become regulars at the mountain camera the last couple of weeks. Both have really nice coats and I suspect that they are a breeding pair. The mating season runs from January in the southern states thru April further north with the pups being born about 53 days later. The Gray Fox is unique in that they are one of the few canids that can climb trees.

I thought it was interesting that in the first pic one of the foxes was at the set the same time as a raccoon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wood Ducks

I had moved one of my cameras back to the cabin pond in anticipation of the arrival of the Wood Ducks two weeks ago. The first week back there I got zero pictures...zilch, zip, nada. I even checked the camera to be sure it was taking pictures because surely something was on the pond in a seven day period. The camera checked out fine and I put it back for another week. As you can see below the second week was the charm...lots of Wood Ducks.  
The Wood Ducks are my favorite duck. The males are just beautifully marked. I keep saying I'm going to put up a nesting box back there but never seem to get around to it. Maybe next year ;). The Mallards and Canada Geese try to nest back there most years but the predators usually win out.

Looks like we're having a little face off here between the two males.