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My favorite Asian leopard shot…!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 posted by Bruce 8:43 PM

After several years of working my Nikon D700 trail cam, this shot stands out as my best overall leopard shot. These carnivores are quite common where I work in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ of Thailand but daytime shots are rare. Unfortunately,  the ‘tiger log’ is now gone (burnt-up in the last ‘fire’ season) and I’m still looking for a good replacement…but I have a few in mind….!! He’s a big mature male Asian wild cat…Enjoy…!

Asian leopard crossing 'tiger log'

 

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After a few years of DSLR camera trapping in the Western Forest Complex of Thailand, I have finally chosen an image of a male Indochinese tiger caught one afternoon at 4.41pm that is my all-time favorite. For this location, I built a Canon 600D with an old Nikon 50mm manual lens incorporating an adapter (Nikon to Canon) in a Pelican 1150 case with an external Snapshotsniper SS II sensor on a 10-meter hardwire, and two SB28s in Tupperware® style boxes also on 10-meter hardwires. This mature tiger was out hunting when he passed the cam and the manual settings were ISO 400; ƒ8; 1/100 sec. and this shot was the last in a string of six. Enjoy…!

indochinese tiger male - Canon 600D

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Nikon D3000 travel cam catches a palm civet, jackals, wild boar, langur monkey and a semi-feral cat…!

Common Palm civet at Ken River Lodge in Panna Tiger Reserve

An Asian palm civet in a dry stream bed at the Ken River Lodge, Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India…!

In March 2016, I made a trip to Panna Tiger Reserve in India after tigers. I was lucky catching two sisters, the offspring of T1, Panna’s first tiger reintroduced from near-by Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. Poachers completely wiped out the big cat in Panna in one year during 2008 but there are 32 tigers thriving now which is an amazing conservation success story.

Jackal at Ken River Lodge in Panna Tiger Reserve, India

Jackal shown here bolting from the flash…! These canidae usually travel in pairs…!

I stayed at the Ken River Lodge outside the reserve several kilometers from the front gate to the park. Pugpundee Safari Company manages this hotel plus others in Bandhavgarh, Pench, Kanha and Satpura tiger reserves in the State of Madhya Pradesh.

Wild boar at Ken River Lodge in Panna Tiger Lodge, India

A wild boar scavenging in the stream bed…!

The owner wanted to see what was roaming the grounds and invited me to set a camera trap in a dry stream bed not far from my room.  After two weeks, I came back through to check the Nikon D3000 with a Nikon 24mm manual lens, one Nikon SB-28 flash and a SSII external sensor.

Indian langur in the Ken River Lodge - Panna Tiger Reserve

A gray or ‘Hanuman’ langur leaf monkey during the day….!

The cam caught a palm civet, a pair of jackals, a wild boar and a langur monkey plus a semi-feral cat. Although not as glamorous as a tiger or leopard, these wild creatures are still just as important to the ecosystem excluding the cat. Leopard tracks have been found near the river..!

Feral cat at Ken River Lodge in Panna Tiger Reserve, India

A semi-feral cat; sometimes this feline was found sleeping up at the resort…!

Tiger Hunter testing Nikon D3000 at Ken River Lodge

The ‘tiger hunter’ with knee pads walk-testing the D3000…!

 

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A close call for my Nikon D700 DSLR trail cam…!

Friday, May 6, 2016 posted by Bruce 9:12 AM

The ‘Tiger Log’ is No More…!

D700 capture Indochinese tiger 2

An Indochinese tiger crossing ‘tiger log’ in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ of Thailand…!

Asian leopard crossing 'tiger log' in Huai Kha Khaeng, western Thailand

Asian leopard crossing ‘tiger log’ in the ‘daytime…!

Tiger log gone

‘Tiger Log’ is left in a long pile of ash after a serious forest fire in late-March, 2016…!

In early March of 2016 before my trip to India, I decided to move my old D700 trail cam as forest fire was edging closer and the fires this year were very intense due to serious drought conditions in Thailand.

Large Indian Civet in HKK, Western Thailand

A large Indian civet crossing the new log…!

This Nikon D700 full-frame DSLR with a 35mm Nikon manual lens in a Pelican 1150 case enclosed in an ‘elephant proof box’ has worked on the ‘tiger log’ in the Western Forest Complex for several years now.

black bear on new log in HKK, western Thailand

A black bear walking the log…!

In the past, I always moved my cameras out of the dryer deciduous areas (usually in March at the beginning of the dry season) to semi-evergreen forests that grow in profusion at higher elevations all year round. Due to moist conditions, these evergreen forests do not burn for the most part.

Male muntjac at the new log in HKK, Western Forest Complex, Thailand

A male muntjac (barking deer) about to cross….!

However, I did have a good run on the log and was lucky to get some really great tiger and leopard shots plus other creatures, big and small. Another location in the semi-evergreen forest was chosen where fires never reach and this year, it was a good thing that I moved my camera as disaster would have killed it on the ‘tiger log’.

Female Muntjac at log in HKK, Western Forest Complex, Thailand

A female muntjac sniffing some scent (Thai fish sauce)…!

When I got back from India, I made a trip into the forest and when I got to the ‘tiger log’, I was shocked. The dead tree had been completely burnt to the ground. All that was left was a long pile of gray ash. If I had left the cam, the old D700 would have been a goner of melted plastic, metal and glass.

Elephant trunk, foot and leg in HKK, Western Forest Complex, Thailand

A big elephant crossing the log…if not tightly secured, the trunk and foot can wreak havoc on cams…!

Here is a collection of images I got from the new log yet to be named. It was OK for a first set but I want to fine-tune the cam (only one flash was working) and also be on the lookout for other ‘log’ locations in the meantime. Fortunately, the first rains have come through and there is no more danger of fire this year. More to follow from the new log…!

Porcupine on New log in HKK

A lightweight porcupine on the log…!

me crossing the new tiger log in Huai Kha Khaeng W.S., western Thailand

A heavyweight ‘tiger hunter’ testing the D700…!

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A goral and a muntjac on the D3000 in India

Monday, April 18, 2016 posted by Bruce 8:39 PM

Two even-toed ungulates caught by my DSLR travel cam…!

Another two species captured on my Nikon D3000 travel cam was a goral (goat-antelope) and a muntjac male (barking deer). Even though these two even-toed ungulates are not as glamorous as the tiger, they are still an indication of the prey base found in Vanghat Wildlife Reserve (private land) in the Corbett Landscape. Hopefully sometime next year, I will be able to return to this place but earlier (about Feb.when it’s cooler). It was boiling hot this year and a bit of a fire hazard (many areas are now being razed by fire) and certainly if I had waited any longer, my camera may have been burnt to crisp)…!

Goral in Vanghat Wildlife Reserve

Goral (goat-antelopes) are found in Northern India in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains…!

Muntjac in Vanghat Wildlife Reserve

A muntjac male (barking deer) are found all over India and a main food source for the big cats…!

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Awhile back, I published a post on ‘my travel cam DSLRs’ on this forum and got some nice mongoose pics from that set last year. I have just wrapped up another trip to Northern India where I set one of my D3000s on a trail in a place called Vanghat resort and private wildlife reserve not far from Corbett Tiger Reserve in the State of Uttarakhand. After only two nights, a female tiger walked past the cam and tripped the sensor several times…this is the best shot from the series…Lady luck doing her magic once again…!!

Female tiger in Vanghat Private reserve

Nikon D3000 with a 24mm manual lens – 2 SB-28s set at 1/4 power..!

Settings: ƒ8; 1/250 sec; ISO 400.

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Creatures in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex – Part One

Friday, March 4, 2016 posted by Bruce 11:07 PM

Video footage of Thailand’s rare carnivores including tiger, leopard, bear and wild dog. Most of this footage is recent..!

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Nile crocodiles and a genet in Kenya

Monday, February 15, 2016 posted by Bruce 12:27 PM

In late December of 2012, I did my last safari to Samburu National Park in Northern Kenya. At the lodge I was staying at, big Nile crocodiles would come up at night into the hotel grounds next to the river (closed-off to people of course) and set-up one of my Sony S600 home-brews on the fence. It was more or less a tourist attraction as the staff fed the crocodiles with left-overs. That night, a slew of them came-up out of the river and the old 600 did its job. One frame shows a genet (little carnivore) caught taunting the crocs…it was one on those weird moments in nature where the little guy must have known it could out-run the fat reptiles…..Enjoy…!

Genet and nile crocodiles in Samburu NP, Kenya

 

 

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Nikon D3000 DSLR Traveling Trail Cams

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 posted by Bruce 3:41 PM

Camera trapping in India…!

A pair of Indian or grey mongoose at the Denwa Backwater Escape lodge in Satpura Tiger Reserve, Central India…!

These small predators were not spooked by the sound of the camera or the flashes…!

Jet travel is fine and dandy if you like to go places that requires a commercial airplane to get to your finale destination. The hustle and bustle, and increased security (but very necessary in this day and age) through airports is a pain if you ask me, and baggage and weight can also add to your problems. A couple DSLR trail cams in ‘Outdoor Products’ cases, plus sensors and four flashes in ‘Tupperware’® type boxes with hard-wires and a couple 10mm Python locking cables will make your suitcase bump the scale up a bit near the maximum for check-in baggage (40 kilograms). I decided to go with a couple small Nikon D3000s that are reasonably priced cameras on the used-market here in Thailand plus they both fit is the cases I had.

Nikon D3000 #1 & #2 trail cams…!

D3000 trail cam #2 in small Outdoor Box and SSII sensor on a 10 meter hard wire…!

D3000 #2 open at the back…!

While I was in the U. S. in 2013, I picked up two ‘Outdoor Products’ or ‘Wally’ cases as they are sometimes called (one small and one large) that seemed perfect for my travel DSLR idea. I put the cameras in and they fit perfectly: one D3000 with a battery pack install in the large one for longer soaks, and a D3000 without a battery pack fit in the small case for short time soaks (3-4 days). I used 3” aluminum tubing for the snorkels and fit 77mm UV filters with Marine Goop. Two ‘eye-ring’ bolts are installed in each cam.

Nikon D3000 #1 in large “Outdoor Products’ case and a SSII in a ‘Tupperware® box…!

As the Nikon D3000 has no remote control port (older model and cheaper), the cameras had to be hacked at the shutter button. This allowed both cameras to fit nicely without any protrusions as if a shutter release plug used as any of the newer Nikon’s in the 3000 series. When I travel, I hand-carry the cameras and pack the traps in my luggage: never put a camera or lens in your suitcase..!

D3000 trail cam #1 open at the front…!

Camera No 1: Uses a Nikon 24mm manual lens with the battery pack (two batteries) and is hard-wired to a SSII in a small ‘Tupperware’® type box on a 10-meter cable. Two ports are for the external flashes: one on a 6-meter cable and the other flash on a 10-meter cable. Both flashes are in ‘Tupperware’® type boxes. A couple of ‘eye-bolts’ are used in conjunction with a ‘Python’ locking cable for minimum security.

Camera No 2: uses a Nikon 50mm manual lens but without a battery pack and hard-wired to a SSII sensor in a small round plastic ‘Tupperware’® type locking box on a 10-meter cable. The camera is hacked inside at both the shutter button and the flash connection and there are two ports for flash cables and a large pair of  ‘eye-bolts’ for a 10mm Python locking cable. A couple of bungee cords are also used to position the cams on trees or poles before installing the steel cables, and then using them to set the flashes in place. This is my smallest DSLR trail cam to date…!

D3000 #2 with two connections on the side of the case for hard-wired SB-28s…!

Nikon SB-28 in a ‘Tupperware®’ style box held in place with a ‘bungee cord’…!

Four Nikon SB-28s in ‘Tupperware®’ boxes and hard-wired from 6 to 10 meters…!

The mongoose pair tripped off quite a few frames attracted by chicken bait and Thai fish sauce

in a small cup surrounded by water in a larger bowl to keep the ants out..!

My safari to India in November 2015 was the perfect time to test these two cams out and is the first time I have used them abroad. No: 2 cam captured a couple of breeding Indian or grey mongoose at the last hotel I stayed at in Satpura Tiger Reserve shown here. No: 1 cam got a scavenger dog (which came out quite nice for sharpness and exposure) and then a feral cat that told me there was no wildlife around Earth Lodge outside Kanha Tiger Reserve.

In 2014, I got a couple of ‘jungle cats’ on a Bushnell Trophy Cam at the King’s Lodge in Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve but this time another feral cat tripped the sensor meaning the wild cats were no longer there. Even though the mongoose images are not super sharp, it was still good to at least catch something really wild. The feral cats and dog was a bit of a letdown but were still good test subjects.

A feral dog drawn in by chicken bait and Thai fish sauce in Kanha Earth Lodge, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India

I plan on going back to India again in March-April 2016 and two locations have already been chosen to do some camera trapping. One sanctuary where camera trapping is allowed is up north near Corbett Tiger Reserve, and the other set-up will be in the hotel grounds in Panna Tiger Reserve in Central India. This is all in the planning stage at the moment but at least the cameras are ready. I will probably just use zip-lock bags for the flashes next time to save weight and certainly don’t need the heavy ‘elephant proof’ boxes here as there are no giants where I will be deploying these traps.

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A male tiger caught by Canon 400D

Monday, November 2, 2015 posted by Bruce 4:10 PM

I recently set-up my other Canon 400D-#2 near the front gate of the sanctuary I’m working in. This is somewhere in the Western Forest Complex of Thailand (sorry; I don’t pin-point locations of my cameras anymore as these big cats are in really big demand for the black market, and location could put them in serious jeopardy). The camera is pointed a bit high and will need to be re-adjusted. I am going there in a couple of days before my trip to India and will take care of that then. Also, this is one of the research team’s collared tigers, and they know him well. I always give the sanctuary chief pertinent information and photos with date and time, and he passes it on to the researchers for their records…! The home range of the Indochinese tiger is about 250 square kilometers that has been well documented by them. I’m not against research; just not too fond of radio collars and sometimes I wonder how much data they really require or need. There are something like eight tigers collared here (both males and females). I have captured several tigers that keep coming around on this trail in their never-ending search for a meal. I have also caught a black leopard at this same location…! Enjoy.

A male tiger with a collar not too far from the main gate in the sanctuary…!

10/13/2015 – 2:08 AM – 1/80 sec;   f/8;   ISO 400…!

Male tiger with collar in HKK, Western Forest Complex, Thailand

Male tiger with collar in HKK, Western Forest Complex, Thailand

 

Another tiger captured last year on my Sony A500 trail cam at the same location-opposite side…!

9/17/2014 – 10:26 PM – 1/80 sec;   f/8;   ISO 400…!

A500 tiger male with collar

A500 tiger male with collar

 

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