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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.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Little Brown Book



As far as I know, most camera trappers don't keep notes.

You don't need to keep notes if you camera trap on a small scale or occasionally, if you know your trapping area intimately, or if you have a photographic memory.

None of these apply to me.

I keep notes in a little brown moleskin book, because I'm a compulsive notetaker. It saves me time trying to remember details.

I try to keep the notes basic.

CAMERA SET: This is a GPS location number.

CAMERA: This is the camera's ID (I use an alphabetic letter, A - Z for each cam).

DATE SET: The day I set the camera.

LOCATION: This includes details (e.g., deer trail, log crossing stream, boulder) and general information (Gillis Canyon, 3 miles E of windmill on county road 631, San Luis Obispo County, CA).

GPS: Latitude and longitude calculated by the GPS, usually after it has taken an average from 100 - 200 readings).

ALTITUDE: As estimated by the GPS.

LURE: If I use a scent lure, like castoreum, here's where I record it.

DATE CHECKED: The date I check the cam, change the memory stick and replace batteries. Several dates may be recorded consecutively, if I leave the camera at the set.

DATE CLOSED: The date I pull the camera or move it to a new location.

If there are other details I want to remember, I jot them down.




When I check the camera and find pictures, I replace the memory stick and upload the photos on my computer.

Then I look at each photo on full screen, and record the photo number, animal IDs, and date and time of every picture on a large tablet. Each sheet is identified with the number of the camera trap set and the cam ID.



After I summarize the information in an Excel spreadsheet I file the sheet in a folder .

I only keep the best or most interesting photos. The rest go to the computer's trash can and are erased.

19 comments:

OregonWild said...

This is an interesting glimpse into the details of your work, and I can see that it is a great way to stay organized while allowing you to advance your technique.

I am not nearly so disciplined when it comes to record keeping, but I do keep a list of ideas that I would like to pursue.

cliff said...

I tried that once and lost the book

Camera Trap Codger said...

I may misplace it, but I never lose it (knock on wood). It usually rests in the breast pocket of my trail vest. That can be risky when it develops a bouquet and the redhead gets in a hurry to wash it. But she knows that cleaning the pockets saves her from cleaning the washing machine, especially when I've been chain-sawing, or wood chipping.

randomtruth said...

Good stuff. About the only thing I do that comes close is use the digicam I carry to document everything I do. I take pics of the area and trap when I set it and remove it. I also photograph any interesting details, such as scat that I may be using as bait, or how I camouflage the cam. I have a GPS too, and when I use it I take a pic of its screen to record the coordinates and altitude of the set trap.

All the above pics go into the folder with the resulting cam trap pics on my computer. The images and time stamps on them give me a pretty decent notebook.

Camera Trap Codger said...

I think you have a more streamlined method than I do, RT. Good work.

Owlman said...

Joe Hall taught you well and he most likely got his ideas from Joseph Grinnell.
Steve Herman published a book in 1986 entitled "The Naturalist's Field Journal" Buteo Books, which describes this method of record keeping. A good chapter in your forthcoming book on camera trapping.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Yes, we all got a heavy dose of journal writing, and I am glad I did it because I've forgotten most of my youthful field days.

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