Please do not use "post comments" to ask for camera help and advice. Use phone or Skype IM in the first instance.

Updates and posts to this web site are delayed due to ongoing problems I am having with internet access. This is because of the degradation of the existing phone line infrastructure which it is hoped will be upgraded by the spring of 2017.

Friday, 31 December 2010

Problem with ProStalk PC2000 trail camera

I've had this camera out on a site for nearly two weeks and it's worked well shooting jpeg's  during the recent sub zero conditions.

Three days ago I decided to switch to video and shorten the delay time to it's minimum of 5 seconds.

I left it for two days and when I checked yesterday I found that the card was full of empty videos so I brought it back to do some tests.

I discovered that when set to the 5 second delay the camera was shooting a video every 10 seconds without being triggered and the same when shooting stills.

After a bit of experimentation I found that above a delay time of 15 seconds it seemed to be working normally, while in between about 10 and 15 seconds it would occassionally fire without being triggered.

This would seem to be an electronic component tolerance problem which has developed over time as it performed ok from new until now; and my guess is that it may have been brought about by the sub zero temperatures which have been down to -14C.

If anyone reading this has experienced similar problems with this or any other model or make of trailcam, I would be interested to hear what they have found.

I'm going to set the camera out on a deer trail today and see how it perfoms with a 15 second delay time.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Tay Beavers are damned by SNH

I couldn't believe what I was hearing when I was told about this and after I'd read the article I felt compelled to add my two cents worth.

It seems that some people and organisations have to feel as if they're in control. God forbid that Beavers should be doing something without SNH's permission. They spend a large amount of taxpayers money (probably a lot more than they needed to) doing a controlled release of Beavers in Knapdale and now they're spending even more money removing Beavers in the Tay valley who have been reintroducing themselves at no cost to anybody and without causing any trouble.

The reasons that SNH are reported to have given for their actions sound very weak to me and I'm always left with the feeling that they are control freaks.

The underlying facts are that the actions of Beavers are generally beneficial to their environment, in that they slow down water flow which reduces flood risk, improve biodiversity and ecosystems and add to the human enjoyement of the area.

The impact on fish stocks is probably also beneficial. Let's not forget that fish have been living alongside Beavers a lot longer than we have.

As to the health of the Beavers in question, the only danger is us!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Trail Camera

I started to experiment with a trail camera a few months ago but what with moving house and fixing the van I didn't get time to do anything serious with it until recently.

Last Thursday I got it out in the forest in an area where I'm  surveying Red Squirrels, using Peanuts and Sunflower seeds as ground bait.

Nothing happened on Thursday but at 0543 on Friday a Brown Hare passed by and was caught on IR.





















Nothing else until 0610 today when a Pine Marten arrived and spent about 12 minutes making a pig of itself.

























Then at 0829 a Red Squirrel turned up briefly and shot up a Norway Spruce about 2 minutes later and wasn't seen again. What suprised me was how soon after first light it appeared. At this time of the year and at the sub zero temperatures we've had for over a week now I would have expected it to be foraging a bit later in the day. I think maybe there was still Pine Marten scent hanging around which is probably why it didn't stay or return.























At 1042 a suprise visitor was this Jay which stayed for about a minute.















No more after that until I collected the images at about 1430.

I've left more bait and will be going back in a couple of days.

All the images are shown original size with cropping. I'll talk more about trail cameras at a later date.

Monday, 20 December 2010

A hell of a year in paradise

I don't know why but every time I move home it seems to trigger a period of snow. It's exactly a year since I moved to Culbokie Cottage and now I've just moved a mile down the road by the village; and each time winter hase arrived with a vengeance. Happily, this time I'm by the tarmac and can get in and out, just!

Now I've got a telephone and internet access, so there's no excuse for not replying to emails and keeping the blog up to date.

I'm making a few changes to the way I do stuff online, most notably the website is going and all the prints for sale will now be available from Wildlife and Countryside Services . I'll now be using most of my time to continue with the Red Squirrel Survey and Photography; and I'll be posting regularly here and on the Red Squirrels of the Highlands  website, among others for which I'll provide links as they happen.

I managed to get a reasonable amount of survey work done this last Autumn and I've just started to experiment with tracking in the snow to build up a better idea of distribution in a typical forest plantation nearby. It will be interesting to see how the results tie in with the autumn survey.

Friday, 29 October 2010

On the move


Sorry for the absence. I've had other issues, over and above the difficulties in accessing broadband, during the last two months.

Earlier in the year the old van decided to develop a gearbox problem which, by September had become rather noisy, to the extent that I began to wonder just how long before its inside ended up outside. So having saved up a few pennies I got a replacement second hand gearbox fitted and hoped for the best. 300 miles on and what a difference. Looks like a good one.

On top of that, my laptop which I use for internet access, finally put it's feet in the air for the last time, having had a mug of tea spilt on the keyboard some time ago. This really was a problem because of my limited resources. Happily a friend donated an HP Pavilion fx1000 which I love to death (the friend and the laptop) and I'm back on the wire.

I've been able to do more Squirrel surveying but apart from shots for records I've done very little serious photography; which will probably be the way of it up to the end of the year because I'm moving house during November. I'm only going about a mile down the road but there's more room, it's just on the end of tarmac and I'll be able to get broadband, which will improve things considerably.

Looks like autumns getting seriously close to winter now. The days are getting shorter with a first fall of snow a week back and a few frosty nights. One of them measured -7C and got me hoping this coming winter wont be as severe as the last one.

The trees are well on there way, Oaks being the most colourful and Birch, Hazel and Larch all yellow and falling.

This will be the last entry until end November when I should be up and running with my own internet connection.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Tree Wasps

Wednesday last week was a warm, sunny morning, so I took my first cup of tea and went outside to enjoy. In the rough pasture, not far from the garden gate, is an old decaying log under an Oak tree. It's so soft inside that when you sit on it, it's like a big, comfortable cushion which I've used occasionally to watch the start of the day.

















The midges weren't on the warpath so I sat down and relaxed for a moment; but it wasn't long before I was aware that there were rather a lot of wasps gathering and giving me a lot more attention than I would have preferred. They were being fairly nice but persistent, so taking the hint I stood up and moved away. These were Tree Wasps rather than the larger Common Wasp which is probably why they didn't sting me, because I'd unknowingly sat right on top of the entrance to their nest.

Tree Wasps generally hang their nests from the branches of trees and bushes, but also in holes in trees; and it obviously doesn't matter if the tree is standing upright or laying down. It's probably a good thing they weren't Hornets.

Not wishing to miss the opportunity, I returned later in the day to see if I could get some photographs of them moving in and out of the nest and the shot below is one that worked fairly well.


Taking photographs is great at focusing your attention and while I was working, I realised that the wasp on the left, was staying in the entrance and greeting other wasps as they returned. On another occasion, a returning wasp partially entered the crack above the nest and then hovered with it's abdomen curled under it's thorax. It then did ninety degree turns whilst bobbing gently up and down for several seconds before going inside the nest. There seemed to be plenty of communication going on but not being an expert, I can't offer any explanation.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who can shed any light on this behaviour.

I'm going to take some more photographs of them when the weather brightens up a bit.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Fires and Litter












I will never understand why it is that certain people think it's perfectly OK to go into the country, find a quiet spot, build a b****y great fire, sit round it drinking beer and whisky and then breaking bottles and throwing tin cans all over the place.

















Don't get me wrong. I've got no problem with a safely sized and located fire, or with sitting around it and eating and drinking; but why do they think it's OK to just dump there left overs without a thought for possible consequences.

















To anybody with half a brain cell the issues surrounding this sort of behaviour must be blindingly obvious.


I can only think that people who do this sort of thing are mindless, hedonistic, self centred, idiots who's only pursuit is their own indulgence. In future I would hope that they spare a thought for the people and animals that live and work in the places they would despoil.

















Take rubbish home and leave as you find.

 

Monday, 2 August 2010

Dogs dinner
















A few days ago, I was along the river with the dogs while they had their daily walk. Kali is a six year old Collie and George is an eight year old Springer Spaniel.

George is happiest when he's in the water and doesn't mind how deep it is, but Kali really dislikes getting out of her depth; so they've worked out a partnership where every time I throw a stick into the river, George goes and gets it. While he's doing that Kali waits in the shallows and he brings the stick to her. She then takes it from him and brings it to me, whereupon I have to throw it into the river again.

It's a bit like perpetual motion until I get fed up and walk away. They don't give up easily though, because Kali follows me and repeatedly throws the stick at my heels; which is really annoying when it's a big one.

So off we go, and I'm crossing the meadow on the way back to the cottage, when a Scotch Argus butterfly obligingly settles on the grass in front of me. Ah, I thought, grab the opportunity; so I'm busy taking a few photographs.
















I'm using a long lens so I'm able to stay about three feet from the butterfly, and had just taken this shot when it disappeared from view and was replaced by George's head. I looked past the camera and was in time to see him swallowing the butterfly.

















He'd obviously been paying attention and looked really pleased with himself!

Anyone want a dog?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Waiting for spring

Still snowed in and iced up, with no phone or internet connection. Engineer still can't get to the cottage so I'm still making use of a wireless connection when I can.

 

This pair of Blue Tits (not suprising in this weather) were trying to get a drink in a frozen wasteland. Measured about -18C over the last two nights.

Here's a view over the forests to the east of Glen Affric looking west.

 
 I'm sorry but that's all I have time for now. Will try again soon.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Lovely Weather

Sorry it's been a while but weather conditions are making life a bit difficult and I still don't have any method of communication at the cottage. I now have limited access to the internet on odd occasions, this being one of them.

Here are a few images from the last few weeks. As you can see, it,s all very white and icy.

This connection is very unstable so I'll leave it at that and be back in a few days, hopefully!

A very happy new year to everyone.


 
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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.