How do you observe wildlife without disturbing them? With a trail camera! A trail camera is motion-activated camera that takes videos or stills. It’s also known as a camera trap. It runs on rechargeable batteries, has a waterproof housing, and can be left outdoors. A crittercam is something else, it’s a camera that you attach to an animal so you can see things like what it looks like to swim underwater like a whale. A trail camera is positioned in one spot, usually an area where animals are known to congregate. Then the camera takes photos or videos of whatever wildlife is in the field of view of the camera.
When we were camera shopping, we were worried that the camera wouldn’t be able to detect birds. Many of the cameras we saw online are used by hunters for monitoring deer and big mammals. Since they are set up for bigger animals, they don’t get triggered by small birds. Then when you adjust the camera, the next setting is overly sensitive and you end up with lots and lots of photos of the wind moving through the grass! In the end we bought the model that was recommended by Rob H’s friend who does fieldwork with birds and camera traps. One feature it has that we were looking for is the invisible flash. The IR-flash on this camera is covered by a special black filter so it is invisible to animals and people when it flashes. Some articles we read suggested that wildlife were wary of or avoided cameras with visible IR-flash.
Other features are: individually adjustable Multi zone PIR motion sensor, 8 megapixel resolution, adjustable resolutions: 4:3: 8 MP, 5 MP, 3 MP // 16:9: 6 MP, 4 MP, 2 MP – HD video resolution, up to 5 consecutive images and 30 second videos, 2“ TFT colour display. It also says “Battery life up to 6 months”! Wow, does that really mean you can leave it running for 6 months on one set of batteries? The top of the line Minox wildlife camera can send photos or videos to your phone or computer via MMS or email. This one doesn’t have that capability.
For the first run, the camera was on medium sensitivity and lowest photo resolution for two days. This is what a typical shot looks like. It has the date, time, burst number, phase of the moon (!), temperature, and birds!
I’m impressed with the output. This is my dream shot, to take a photo of the Philippine Ducks swimming in one of the ponds. Ha! The Minox did it many times over two days!
The Minox can even do bird in flight!
What fun to see different species in one shot.
Philippine Duck Anas luzonica
Plain Bush-hen Amaurornis olivacea
Barred Rail Gallirallus torquatus
Buff-Banded Rail Galliralus philippensis
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrophynchos
dove species – possibly Island Collared Dove Streptopelia bitorquata
Tonji setting up the camera for the 2nd run. This time the camera is on video mode at highest sensitivity.
Camera all set up! It is in the same spot as the last time.
So far we are very happy with our first experience with a trail camera. It looks like a great tool for observing wildlife. We will also test it in the trail areas.