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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Stumped by birds

I was stumped.

Ever since ringtail exposed herself, I've been angling for more pictures of that trim body, and especially a few shots showing the full length of that gloriously fluffy banded tail. Getting more pictures of that little charmer meant I had to outsmart the fox. Ringtail had stayed away ever since Br'er fox showed up. He had become a camera hog. I mean, 70 pictures a night is a bit much.

My ploy was to place the bait out of the fox's reach, because ringtails are good climbers. As you have seen ("Br'er fox can climb"), a four foot snag was no contest for the fox. So the next night I draped the goodies--chicken neck and liver--on the log's tallest snag, thinking that six feet might be out of reach. I staked the cam 6 feet away and set it for a vertical frame or "portrait".

The next day the bait was gone and I chuckled "Got it"! I switched the camera to VIEW, and got the blue screen with that disappointing message: "No file in the folder"--technotalk for "no pictures". Time for analysis. The sensor must be out of kilter, I thought, and it must be related to the camera's vertical position. Ringtail could also be eluding the sensor by climbing up the back of the snag. I turned on the control board, did the "walk test", and re-adjusted the camera's position.

The next day--same message, no pics. Then it dawned on me. The bait thieves are coming during the day, dummy! I changed the dip switch from "Night" to "24 hour" pictures.

On the third day, the bait was gone, but the cam had captured the images of thieving ravens. I had been stumped by birds.

There were three ravens sat in a tree
Down a down hey down hey down.

They were as black as black can be
With a down

And one of them said to his mate
O where shall we our breakfast take
with a down derry derry derry down down

O down in yonder bramble wood
Down a down hey down hey down

There is a man who's done us good
with a down

Each day he ambles down the trail
his mind is gone, but he's not yet frail
with a down derry derry derry down down

For reasons only known to him
Down a down hey down hey down

He dangles chicken on the limb
with a down

It's such good luck that such lost souls
stuff well-cured mice in wooden holes
with a down derry derry derry down down

He must have gone to graduate school
Down a down hey down hey down

Its only there they make such fools
With a down

Thank God he ignored the honeydo list
Or this fine meal we would have missed

[Okay, okay--I hacked it badly--but it's easier to mangle an old ballad than write it from scratch.]

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