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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, April 15, 2011

Camera U's final gift

For the camera trapper who has forgotten that creeks flood and that dirt roads can turn into quagmires, or believes that engineered wetlands maintain a constant water level, or thinks he walks under a lucky star . . . well folks, this is what can happen.

Welcome to the Sacramento Valley in December -- December 2, to be exact.

That's when the story began, when yours truly and Random Truth staked Camera U at the edge of a riparian wetland.

I had great expectations. The place was crawling with wildlife.

And sure enough, otters and raccoons left 12 images the very first night.

That's right, river otters -- my first camera-trapped otters on the first night!

The place was hot.

During the next four days Cam U snapped another 19 images.

The raccoons kept coming, and there was the tail-end of an egret and black-tailed deer.

On December 6 the water started to rise, and the promise of set 444 faded rapidly.

In three minutes the water level rose another 4 inches, and at 45 minutes past noon Cam U went under.

Under water it shorted and snapped 50 blurry photos in 3 minutes.

And that was it.

Camera U was finito. 

A couple days ago I removed the precious memory stick and cleaned the sludge from the contacts. 

It still worked, and that's why there is more to this story than the two photos at the beginning and end.

At the moment Camera U is lying in state on my work bench.

When dry it will join other casualties in the camera trap catacombs, which is just a box in the closet.


Henry said...

Sorry to hear about the camera. Luckily you got some consolation images.

I sometimes feel I'm constantly pushing my luck to new limits, taking bigger and bigger risks. Sure risk is part of the game, but I'm leaving them in places I would never have thought of leaving them when I started. Thus far it has worked out well, but when that lucky star sets... Sing them blues.

JK said...

This appears to be in infra-red hack huh? I am going to have to pick your brain a little bit on it as I would like to make one of mine infra-red for areas with too many humans. I ordered the parts from Yeticam but he scared me into thinking it was quite difficult so they are still sitting in the box.

owlman said...

Tragic man but you have unlimited resources and the perservance of a Badger. A good lesson and story.

Anonymous said...

Those otters, WHAT A THRILL!!!!! YOEW! GOODO


Sebastian Kennerknecht said...

Good thing those memory cards are virtually indestructible. At least you got some images out it. Love the otter ones!

Ginnymo said...

What great pictures you get!!

Shervin Hess et al said...

Have you ever attempted underwater camera trapping? Seriously. I've always wondered about that.

randomtruth said...

"U" is for u-boat... C'mon Codge! I think you can get that one working again - just needs a little TLC! :)

Jace said...


May Camera U rest in peace........


Camera Trap Codger said...

Thanks folks, but this wasn't the worse news from that venture.

Shervin -- send me an email at chindwin@sbcglobal.net and we'll talk about it.

Jake, you can do it, just take your time and don't drink any beer when your'e doing it.

Henry--you're moving into the dangerous zone of "stealth camming".