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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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

An attempt at subterranean video

I was eager to set the home-brewed video cam (a DXG567) in a burrow so the camera trapping class could see the magical underworld of the mountain beaver or showtl.

In June we revisited the tunnel we used last year, and found that it wasn't feasible.

We couldn't drive a pipe into the hardpan of that tunnel and couldn't mount the camera.

We settled on another tunnel nearby.

Underground set-ups often require special mounts, and since we lacked the necessary equipment we jammed the short pipe mount into the muddy side wall of the tunnel and stabilized the camera with a wooden stake.

It was a sloppy job, but we took a chance.

During the workshop we found that something had uprooted the camera, and when we viewed the video clips we found that the culprit was a bear cub.

Its curiosity satisfied, it left the camera like a tortoise on its back, and it took over 100 video clips of waving tree limbs.

As you can see from the video the camera was positioned too high in the tunnel.

When a camera is underground you can't pre-visualize the picture by looking at the LCD.

Instead of seeing the floor of the tunnel we see a pale fungus above.

The camera took 270 30-second videos, and most of them were of the forest canopy overhead.

Though the underground video clips were poorly framed they show us once again that the mountain beaver shares it tunnel with several other species.


Bay Laurel said...

What a treat to see the tunnel world! Even if it got uprooted, you still got some great visitors while it was in place.

JK said...

I gotta get myself one of these. Such nice quality video compared to the trail cams

randomtruth said...

That is excellent. You can really see the species and what they're doing. I'm with Jake, I want one too.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Thanks matey's; you helped, you know. You too, Aviva.
That little DXG 567 does take some nice video.

Cindy said...

Would a snake trigger the camera?

Mr. Smiley said...

I was impressed by all the mosquitoes and other flies around the tunnel and the occupants. Poor guys. No wonder they want to be underground. I remember those Sierran mozzies.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Cindy, a PIR sensor would definitely detect a hot snake, and even a worm snake.

Dave, you ain't seen half of the mossies down there. They are thick, there's water there for breeding and plenty of mammals to feed on, including the tender humanoid ears of those adorable mountain beavers.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Bear versus camera, again!

We don't have mountain beavers around here, just the common kind, so it has been interesting seeing your various photo-captures of them.

Anonymous said...

That a fascinating use of camera traps. If I can find a suitable location I may just copy your idea!


Camera Trap Codger said...

Go for it, Paul. And whur you (at) by the way?

clippy1812 said...

Thailand - I have been on a bit of a hiatus from camera trapping for the past 4 or 5 months (too much work in the day job and awaiting permissions for a new location) but have just started up again last weekend with 6 new sets.

Fascinated by the underground idea, I would have thought close focus and lighting level would have been major issues but you have nailed it!