Sunday, December 16, 2012

All Puffed Up

This spruce grouse was all puffed up when this photo was taken in mid November in Pittsburg N.H. I think it was as cold as we were when the cameras were checked later that day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fisher pauses to smell and look

This fisher (Martes pennanti) paused in front of the camera to observe a visual attractor above the camera and to leave his calling card. Even some of the smallest mammals show a curiosity in things such as a visual attractor that they know don't belong in the woods.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Snowshoe Hare changing color with the season

A photo series showing the transition of snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) from brown coat (summer) to a white coat (winter) over a period of weeks in Northern N.H. As expected, showshoe hare are very prevalent in certain locations but in all my time in the woods I hardly see them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Moose and Calf

A couple moose calf pictures from the spring in northern N.H. The first was shot through the mothers legs, the others are self explanatory. Moose in N.H. have declined significantly due largely to winter ticks, and this has resulted in significantly lower moose hunting permits (and thus less revenue). A single moose can easily have > 50,000 ticks which remain on the moose for months to complete their life cycle. Moose in particular are victims of the tick because they cannot reach or groom as well as white-tail deer. It is common to see hair loss or bald spots of moose from scratching, which gives the moose the local nick name "ghost". Moose calfs are the most susceptible to the winter ticks because high densities of ticks literally suck more blood from a calf then it can produce in the spring (April is known as the month of death for moose). Mortality of N.H. moose calfs can be over 70% in bad years while adult mortality rates can be as high as 20%. Luckily this calf looks in good shape, but the true test of survival will be this april.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Antelope and magpies

The last few pictures from this camera set in Wyoming. An antelope paused to smell the scat (above). Flipping through the pictures it was clear that the scat started to disappear faster then it should decompose. The culprit was a flock of magpies. Magpies are considered to be extremely intelligent birds, but I can't say for sure what they do with the scat after they carry it off.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

           A few pictures taken in Wyoming of a mule deer and a small black bear traveling on a great ridge trail set. The bear was only photographed once but this deer in velvet was photographed multiple times (events). Time of a visit and frequency are important in gathering more information about this animals behavior, home range, etc, but this is a fragment of the information that the photographs from remote cameras can provide. Animal health, activity patterns, predator prey relationships, and powerful educational tools among others are a few of the reasons why remote cameras are growing in popularity with hunters, biologists, and those who love the outdoors. This is the same ridge trail where I photographed a wolf. This camera was only up for 10 days but exemplifies the diversity of wildlife over a ten day period on one trail.

Friday, October 19, 2012

       I'd like to post a link to a blog with some good info and great wildlife photographs. Zach Dautrich has given me a true interest in birds and is the reason why I often pull the car off the road and grab the binoculars. He is extremely knowledgeable and regularly updates his blog. Click HERE to view his recent posts and read about some of his inspiring work.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The West is bigger...

         Things are just bigger out west, or at least it seemed that way in Wyoming. It's a different type of landscape from New England, one that's often open enough to easily watch wildlife from the road. In the early hours of the morning, dozens of mule deer in bachelor groups devoured everything in their path. I couldn't guess the score of antlers, but it was clear that we saw some huge bucks, maybe even record breakers.
           Holding true to crepuscular activity (animals that are active primarily during twilight), we often saw these deer on the side of the road between 4-6am. The high beams would inevitably flash across the field and in the distance the glint of eyes from a lifting head covered in a dark velvet crown. This photo was a decent buck that we often saw on the drive to work. There were a few much larger bucks that I would have loved to chase around. Photographed the first week in July, this guy had a long way to go.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

        This black bear stopped, climbed, and then smelled the tree where there was recent bear activity. I was hoping the bear would climb just a another foot higher before pausing but I was happy with this picture considering the variables.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

     This bear tree was found by a friend and suggested as a good camera spot. I had missed the tree on my last walk, but I couldn't agree more for this great location. These heavily marked bear trees always remind me of the large conifers that grow to close to the road and inevitably get hit year after year by giant snowplows. Although this large pine was hundreds of meters from the nearest road, fresh sap from a recent bear visit ran slowly down the dying trunk. If the tree could choose, I think it would have picked the snowplow over the bears.
    The beauty with building your own cameras is that you know and understand the functionality of the entire system. You are aware of it's capabilities, risks, and rewards. Once comfortable with a thorough understanding of how a system works, you can experiment with different setups and use your understanding to not only photograph wildlife in new ways, but discover interesting and effective methods for studying ecology. Often one idea or method leads to another and so on. Some believe that remote camera photography is simply running out and strapping a camera to the nearest tree, and for some it is. It usually takes at least a couple hours (sometime days) of walking to find an ideal camera location. When you really dive into the process there is so much more then simply putting a camera out. My use of remote cameras for photography/ecology is a pursuit in which continued progression by use of technology and methods is the ultimate goal.
       In this set, I hung a camera from wire to try to photograph bears visiting the tree. I placed a large rock on top of the camera to stop it from swaying and being triggered by motion. It took about 30 minutes to get to camera wired up correctly and another 10 to get the rock on top of the camera and balanced correctly. I probably could have picked an easier tree considering the first branches were 10ft off the ground. Results from this camera located in Wyoming will be posted shortly in a follow up post.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bear cruising the beach

          I found an old piece of drift wood and jammed it a couple feet down into a clay riverbed about 10ft from shore. I wired the camera up to the piece of driftwood, and after 5 minutes of tinkering to get the perfect camera angle, I left the camera to do it's work. Hopefully some of these photographs demonstrate not only ways to document a species, but new methods, angles, and ideas for observing and photographing wildlife.
           There were plenty of tracks along the bank to suggest heavy animal traffic, but unfortunately I could only leave the camera out at this location for 5 days. I was hoping for a passing wolf pack, as the tracks showed they had been at this site a week prior, but I was happy with this picture of a big bear wandering by.
           Leaving a remote camera outside always poses a serious risk for the owner. Cases can leak, people can steal them, and animals can destroy them or carry them off among other things. It an especially large risk to leave a camera dangling above the water, were a passing beaver or a curious moose could easily swat it down, but always the believer in "All or nothing" I decided to take the risk in the attempt to get the shot I want. This picture was taken in Wyoming.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wolf on the cat scat

         This collared wolf paused by the camera, located on a high traffic ridge trail, at 2:00 am to smell a cougar scat left only a week earlier. I didn't expect this this canine to take any interest in feline scat-but wildlife always has a few surprises. Look at the size of the hind legs and paws on this guy! This picture was snapped by my remote camera in western Wyoming.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


A few elk wondered by this mountain trail along with a few other animals (will be posted soon). Mountain trails, especially directly above or below trails, in my experience serve as high traffic areas for wildlife.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A coyote walking away from the camera paused to smell a scat that another Canid left. Canid's often seem to be interested in other Canid sign-seemingly to ignore scent left from Felid's or other animals. Sometimes natural scent works the best, but it's all just one big experiment in the end. I placed a collection of different scats in front of the camera to what would interest the local wildlife. This picture was taken in Wyoming, with many, many more to come.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Finally a picture worth sharing. This photo of a mule deer was taken in Wyoming-the first time I have used my cameras outside of New Hampshire. This photo was taken at 6:39 am as the sun started to climb over the horizon. I was still curled up in my sleeping bag watching the minutes tick by.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A few photo's I took of wildlife in June for Northern N.H. Sometimes the wildlife does all the work for you. It is an amazing time of year.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Spruce Grouse Dance

      This Spruce grouse put on a little show and the camera was lucky enough to capture it. Spruce grouse normally are often found in bog like areas and start displaying around April/May depending on the weather. Males will clap their wings, fan their tales, and make flutter displays with distinctive noises to attract females. Videos of displays can be found on the web, one such video can be viewed HERE

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Old and weary-but alive

      This big old buck survived the hunting season but looked tired. He staggered off and was never photographed by this camera again. Only a few deer were captured camera trapping in Pittsburg N.H. despite having 10 trail cameras active all winter (2012).

Monday, May 7, 2012

A few small mammals including this ermine and American marten (more commonly known as the pine marten) made visits to a number of cameras this winter. These cameras were checked in late April 2012.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A few pictures of Moose from Pittsburg N.H. Moose were one of the most common visitors to the cameras during their five and half month deployment. Many more photo's to come.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

        Made the trip to northern N.H. and retrieved all but one cameras. These are the first of many photo's from 10 cameras that were out for 5.5 months! Most cameras were either still working or had stopped working April 10th or 13th. These are pictures of spruce grouse-a species of concern in N.H. I am told that these birds had never seen a human before and didn't associate "two legged" animals as predators. I was able to photograph a number of birds from as little as a few inches away!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Turkeys at the scratch post

The leaf scratches were everywhere and it was apparent Turkeys had been regularly sifting through the oak leaves trying to find a few acorns and insects that had survived the winter. When I checked the camera that's exactly what I found, lots and lots of turkeys. I was hoping for snow shots but the small amount of snow that had survived thus far disappeared in less then a day when the thermometer hit 70 degrees.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Life under the ice

 I thought I could get away with it for a couple weeks, but it's clear from these pictures that in order to achieve the picture clarity I desire, I need to put foam in the case to stop the flash bleed. Two weeks ago I crawled out onto a thin sheet of ice to place a camera next to open water that beavers have been keeping open to collect their winter food. After three days of above 50 degree temperatures I had to move the camera. I was lucky, I didn't fall through the ice collecting the camera, but another day and the camera would have been underwater.  Due to the problems associated with PIR detection of animals in cold water, I didn't get any pictures from that set. I moved the camera to the shore where the above pictures were taken. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Back to the Log

         Back at one of my favorite logs, this camera was set up for otters and I got what I asked for on this one. Upon approach, I noticed an otter latrine (a group of scats together used for marking), and it looked as if otters had been near my camera. The camera was placed just a foot to close to the log so I moved it back and will wait for the otters return. All otter visits were in the evening or the early morning. A porcupine and a number of raccoons were also some of the visitors.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The First Lynx

My favorite picture of the lynx- a male, pausing to check out the scents I had put down over a months earlier.  

           A good friend and local biologist saw a lynx in Pittsburg N.H. earlier this summer, but with no photo's to show, there wasn't the proof needed to confirm this species. A few transient lynx have passed through NH in the last decade, evidence that has been found in tracks, but the last known NH lynx was killed by a car in 1993. 
              In mid July I began to set up the cameras I built in Pittsburg N.H., using many of the same tricks that I had used for bobcat. I checked my cameras at the end of July, in August, and then again in early September. I added a few cameras and moved them around to put the most reliable cameras in the best locations. Essentially I was focusing on the best snowshoe hare habitat, the Lynx's primary food--as confirmed by many scat analysis studies in Maine and southern Quebec. 
           Checking and deploying the cameras is a full two-day job, sunrise to sun set. In November, after 4.5 months, and over 10,000 photographs, I had the pictures of a lynx that I wanted. The picture above is one such example, and is to my knowledge the first picture of a wild lynx in New Hampshire habitat ever. I have exhausted all of my sources in search of another photograph of a lynx in NH, and it seems unlikely to me, after talking with biologists, scholars, and examining the history of lynx in N.H., that such a photograph exists. When I check them cameras again in another month or so, I will be trying a few new tricks that I picked up from some old trappers, and I believe these new techniques will make my camera sets very successful. Look for new pictures that will be posted here in the coming months, meanwhile I have deployed enough local cameras in some of my favorite spots to keep the pictures coming until then. A special thank-you to all of those who have supported my efforts, they would not be possible without the support and constant information from those at home an on the web.

Here is the link to the published article by N.H. Fish and Game:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The cat call

            Cats, like other animals respond to a number of stimuli in order to find prey, avoid predators, etc. As a wildlife photographer, I try to think about what what senses make the animal I want to capture so successful, and use them to my advantage. In a basic sense: how does the animal see the world. In the "cat world" audio and visual stimuli can entice a cat's curiosity to come in close. In my experience for Canines it's all about smell, where as cats you use a visual attractor to get them to the site, and scent to hold them there, for canines scent can do both. It doesn't have to be something expensive, just something out of the ordinary, like a feather or a CD that will dance in the gentlest breeze. 
       On this set I had an audio caller playing at dark at 30 second intervals. I was expecting to get photo's of the cat coming in to the camera, but didn't expect him to sit down in front of it. I will have to change the camera placement next time I use the technique. On another note, this is a perfect example of why you should turn the time/date stamps off of your camera. The time/date is automatically stored in the file data and can ruin a nice picture if you choose to display it. Lesson learned.