Showing posts with label CSI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CSI. Show all posts

June 06, 2010

CSI: Camera Trap Spring

"This is kind of creepy," said M., looking at the forest floor around her.

The ponderosa pine-needle duff was scraped and gouged as though a wrestling match had taken place.

More seriously, my game camera was no longer strapped to the big pine where I had left it. The battery compartment door was over there, the main control-panel cover somewhere else, and the silver C-size batteries gleamed in the underbrush.

Best of all, the camera body itself was in the spring. So was its nylon mounting strap.

Something there is that does not love a camera--other than grumpy movie stars. We reviewed three possible culprits:

1. Bear. The torn-up ground, the muddiness of the camera, a paw print near the spring, and the general destructiveness suggested Ma or Pa Bruin. Plus I had gotten bear pictures at the same spring on May 26.

2. Human. Someone had unbuckled the strap. On the other hand, a hostile human would have likely just taken the camera--or picked up a stone and smashed it to ruin the electronics. Or shot it with a gun.

3. Bigfoot. Just in case we ruled out numbers 1 and 2.

 But hurray for secure digital (SD) cards. At home I pulled the card from the camera, wiped the mud off with alcohol, and downloaded 51 images.

Here are the highlights:

The three foxes were back on the morning of June 2.

(One is drinking from the spring in the shadows at the left edge.)

Just after noon the same day, a bull elk in velvet came to the spring.

Around 10 a.m. on June 3, something knocks the camera askew. Here is the probable culprit.

Two minutes later, someone is back--or had never left.

Then four hours later, around 2:30, the camera captures a shot of a brown ear, a total white-out as though something blocked the lens, and then this bear cub walking away.

A minute later, Mama Bruin comes back. Maybe she is getting annoyed now?

At 3:15 p.m., mama and cub depart. It looks as though the adult bear waded into the spring up to its elbows and then sat in it, since its hindquarters are muddy and there is no other open water nearby.

But wait! Let's smack the camera around some more! This photo was followed by others of the camera pointing 180° from its original position, and up towards the tree tops.

A bear--presumably the same one--came back around 7:35 p.m. In this photo you can see brown fur to the left.

At 7:38 the camera was being knocked around again. (Was this when the bear unbuckled the mounting strap?) For ten more minutes, the passive infrared detector was still being triggered, although the photos were only of tree tops.

And at some point it was "disemboweled," its batteries came out, and it was deposited in the spring. There it lay for three days until we returned for it.

No, it does not seem to work. The case is water-resistant, but there is a limit to that. And the clear plastic disk covering the lens appears to have been bitten.

January 06, 2010

CSI: Birdfeeder

Listen up, team, here is what we know so far.

1. No bloodstains were seen on the lower sunflower-seed feeder on Monday, Jan. 4.

2. When the feeder's owner let his dogs out about 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 5, he reports there was a little "commotion." Unfortunately, he is a coffee addict and was busy preparing his morning fix, so we don't have a eyewitness account.

3. We'll need a lab report. Bird blood or mammal blood?

4. One dog was located near the house about 8:45 a.m. and taken for a walk. The other was located about 9:15 a.m. at a neighboring house, chewing on a strip of elk hide. It's my gut feeling that the elk hide has nothing to do with our case, but check it anyway.

5. The feeder in question is about 15 yards from the house. When the owner's wife, a participant in Project Feeder Watch, scanned it with her binocular about 10:30 a.m., she saw the blood splashes.

Further blood drops were reported on the snow under the feeder in a semi-circular pattern.

6. The reporting party says he found a Steller's jay breast feather about eight yards from the feeder that morning. Again, gut feeling, there may be no connection. Jays drop feathers all the time. Still, it might be something.

7. This is interesting. On Monday the 4th, a squirrel was electrocuted on power lines just a few yards from the feeder. The death was ruled a suicide, but maybe we should take another look at that one too.

Maybe we have a serial killer stalking squirrels--if the lab report shows mammal blood, that is. Apparently this feeder is a favorite squirrel hangout.

8. All right, then. I want your preliminary reports in 24 hours.