LIFES A BEACH!

In this video you’ll see “Fran” standing on top of a Sea Lion carcass. Fran is a teenager about to become an adult. Eagles get their adult colours at 5 years of age. You can still see some streaking in her head feathers.Dead give away she’s around four and a half years old? She’s also the offspring of Frank and Frieda. So she is tolerated. If she was a stranger she would most likely be chased away. If she kept coming back,she probably would be attacked! But because she’s part of the family she has a life long membership to come back any time! Fran see’s her father coming over and backs off. Frank is telling her to EAT and go.

Turn the sound up and listen to the sounds Fran makes.

In this video it shows a immature eagle eating. Its early, (5:38am) so I guess its breakfast. This male eagle looks around 3 to 4 years. Another Immature comes in to attack! I recognize this eagle. Its one I’ve called “Ruffles”. I call him that because of the ruffled feathers on his back. He’s a bully. I’ve seen him do false charges at the Ravens.

In this video it shows Ruffles just a few minutes after attacking the other Immature eagle. I think the other eagle is one I’ve called “Rusty” but am not sure? There are half a dozen Immatures feasting on the carcass. Ruffles takes exception to Rusty(?) hanging around waiting for a bite…..so he chases him off!

I’m not that familiar with Frank and Frieda to be honest. What I do know is If it was Frank or Frieda they wouldn’t walk slowly up to the carcass. This male eagle is taking his time,so that tells me he’s not Frank. I suspect this male is poaching,so he’s very alert!

There is one thing I found odd with this video? This eagle did not trip the cameras motion sensor. The camera began shooting way before this eagle arrived. So what tripped the sensor?

I like the light in this video.

MY TURN!!

As some of you already know, I have been documenting the feeding behaviour of eagles on a dead Sea Lion out on Chestermans beach (Frank island). The Sea Lion is a young female Stellar Sea Lion and she was pregnant.

To help them to get at the meat I cut the carcass open. Later when I swapped the card I saw the remains of a unborn pup inside her. I could see whiskers and wondered what it was? I looked closer and realized it was the nose of the pup. Poor thing never had a chance.  I still do not know why this Lion died? I just hope it was from natural causes.

I set up a trail camera station. It took me a lot of work and about three days of figuring it out,but I think I have it now.

In this video an adult eagle has been feeding too long…..according to another eagle and It was persuaded to MOVE!

After the attack you can hear the attacker scolding the other eagle and than hop over for a bite.

GRICE BAY TRAIL CAMERA SET UP

During the winter season we get a lot of Trumpeters wintering over. They fly down from the Yukon. They only stay in very quiet bays. The bears tag team them. When the bears go to bed,the Trumpeters arrive.

In our area Grice Bay is HQ for Trumpeters. There are around 30 to 40 staying in Grice during the winter time. Grice bay is a perfect for them! Nobody ever goes down there…….or very few! In thirty years I have yet to see another person down there when I’m there! People stay away because at low tide the bay empties exposing the mud flats.

Many birds stay down at the end but the ones I’m interested in are the Trumpeters.

So to document the Trumpeters winter stay I have placed a trail camera down there to observe.

Each time I use one of these camera traps the set up is unique. In this set up I hammered a 2X4 into the earth and attached the housing. I need the cover for the camera because of the winters rains!

I think I’ll go back in two weeks time to swap the card and batteries. I never know exactly whats going to walk past?

SALMON VIDEOS

Back in September I placed a trail camera up river to capture the goings on of the locals.

This is my first time using these cameras in this manner. I set it up and left it for several months. I came back twice to swap out the cards. The first time I left the camera for a month. After swapping the card and getting home I found the 32 Gig card had filled up in only 6 days,and than It sat there for 3 more weeks doing nothing! Clearly I needed to cut down on the memory being filled so quickly!  The  camera turns on when anything walks in front of it. I found a lot of the memory was being filled up by bears searching for salmon at night. I couldn’t tell what was going on but I could see their beady eyes shining back at me.

I’ve always been curious If bears hunted for salmon at night? I’ve never been brave enough to paddle upstream to find out myself.  Our eyesight isn’t that good in the dark,maybe we could get away with it during a full moon but generally speaking we are blind as bats out in the dark. Bears have a reflective layer coating the back of their eye. Think of a stainless steel bowl. This reflects the light back out.

The eye is made up of two basic units,rods and cones. Cones are used for colour while rods are used for light intensity. Light coming into the eye hits the front of the rod creating a signal. It than hits the back of the eye and the light is reflected back out to the backside of the rod where it is detected a second time. So by having this extra light capacity the animal can see very well in the dark. Many animals have this ability. Our own pets have this reflective coating.

So I decided to cut out all of the night shots to help reduce the storage problem. I also cut the video length from 30 seconds to 15 seconds. I programmed it to come on at 7 am and turn off at 7 pm.

I found this stretched the memory capacity significantly! Here are a few videos for your entertainment.

This shows a bear searching for salmon. He cannot see but we can that there are zero salmon in that pool. Keep searching buddy!

This video shows a bear that has grabbed a salmon. Once a bear grabs a salmon they usually walk off into the forest right away so another bear won’t see them with the salmon. If another bear does see it with a salmon there is a good chance it would go after that bear. Which usually causes the bear to drop its prize and flee in fright!

Bullying is alive and well in Nature!

This shows a bear walking through the lower pool in search of its breakfast.

You can see a eagles failed attempt at grabbing its own breakfast.

This is the last video I shot. It shows me arriving to grab the camera. Season was done!

BEAR/SALMON CAMERA SET UP

The salmon are beginning to stage in their natal streams! So this year I thought I’d try to do something different. Obviously I cannot hang around my favorite stream day after day, week after week.I’d like to…… but cannot.

So I have set up a Trail camera to catch the action. I placed it in a spot where the salmon are forced to expose themselves. They must move upstream to spawn! I picked this spot because they move from a deep pool to another pool above but have to swim over some washboard rapids exposing themselves.

Of course the bears are smart enough to know where the best spots are! The bears wander along the river banks each day searching and hoping that they are in the right spot when one of the salmon makes a break for it!

I too try to be at the right place at the right time but as I’ve said,I cannot be up there all the time. So I’ve set a trail camera up. I will collect the SD card after a month. Wish me luck! Its taken me years to figure this stuff out…….. or maybe I should say “think” I’ve got it figured out. This kind of stuff doesn’t come with a  manual.

History!

(I had to reuse this shot)
Well,I went out tonight with one purpose and one purpose only……..to get that trail camera dug out of the sand!
I landed on the beach and new instantly that it was gone! I couldn’t see or find it anywhere! The beach had been scoured clean! It looked like a totally new beach! I walked up the beach searched everywhere but no camera. It was in a waterproof housing but I suspect that the salt water most likely would of gotten in and she was toast in seconds after being hit! Very large fresh trees had been uprooted and would of been like battering rams to anything on the beach.
I did find the post,but it had been snapped and the camera case was gone!
Looks like the ocean is interested in photography! I have the card from it however so Mother Nature won’t be taking any pictures soon!!
I did find that Elephant Seal carcass however! But without a camera to record the wildlife,it seems a mute point!

I went on my merry way down Browning Pass and to Tsappee Narrows. Neither the Daredevil or his mate ,Delilah were home.
Romeo was however!
I just puttered around trying to save the afternoons shoot.

OOPS!

The clouds broke after almost a week of stormy weather! I couldn’t wait to get out! It seems so long!
The first thing I did was go check on my trail camera. I found that the storm waves had moved it further into the beach and buried it partially!
I got the card out of it and just left it for the night. I will have to go back tomorrow with a shovel and dig it out.
The carcass is still in the area as well & it’s even further back towards the forest line!

For the rest of the night…….I went up into Fortune Channel looking for bears. I came across two bears tonight.
No eagles today. I think they are all still on vacation at the spawning grounds?
Great to get out after being shut out for so long!
UPDATE : I couldn’t get back to the camera the next day. It took two days and by the time I got back with a shovel,it was gone!
The ocean has taken it!
The carcass was still there however!

Strange Animal?

This is one of the creatures that my Trail camera caught. It appears to not only have strange markings on the side of it’s “body”,but also be holding something in it’s paw? (a Bud I think?)
It may be one of those “Forest Nymphs” I’ve heard about??

OK. It would appear that the vast majority of the shots my Trail Cam took were of people walking in front of the camera! This beach faces south and people just cannot stay away from it. The weather is going to be helping me out in that regard! If it’s not sunny……they will not come! I hope?
If anyone knows this woman,tell her where she can find her picture!

Dead Elephant Seal and Trail Camera Setup

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Looks like nothing has been nibbling away yet! There were campers 150 meters away for the last two nights however.
Wolfs will travel around islands looking along the tide line for tasty offerings from the ocean!
Namely….Mr. Elephant Seal! Another volunteer for my documentation of the local wildlife. Always good to get to know your neighbors!
The carcass is still so fresh that it’s not giving off a large scent cloud yet.
It would be similar to us smelling the Thanksgiving Turkey when we enter a house!
When it starts getting stinky, is when the neighbors drop by for a bite or two?
I’ll keep you guys in the loop!

The rest of the night was spent looking for wolfs and eagles.
I did come across one eagle and zero wolfs. The Daredevil was down at Tsappee Narrows and did two strikes! I was impressed! I haven’t seen them being active in awhile. The light was excellent! Just the way I like it! Served up warm!
After this, I went into the harbour for the sunset. When I was heading out of the harbour earlier,I remembered seeing acouple sailing boats anchored for the night. The “Launa” and the “Lightspeed”.
I did a few shots near sunset of them both. They both were beautiful boats! The Lightspeed looks like a fast boat!
After all was said and done,It turned into another great Tofino Sunset!

The Last Shots

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I didn’t get much of the wolfs on this round.
The tide came in and I didn’t have any nails to keep the carcass in place! Which means that it moved and it was alittle to the right of the camera.
Salty poked her head in for a bite and one of the pups came in as well. Than she dragged the carcass further to the right and that was all she wrote!
I call this black pup “Pepper Jr.”.

New Location

Lets keep our fingers crossed that they don’t try to drag the carcass else where!
This is the spot where the carcass is now. The Sea Lion has been reduced to half the size it was a week ago but remember that some of that size was because of water bloating the carcass.
Now that it’s been out of the water,it’s been drying out and losing alot of weight!
I will have to check it each night this week to see what they have been up to?

Wolfs

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I went to check out that Sea Lion carcass and swap the card in the camera. I wanted to see how it was going?
After looking at the shots,I think I will move the camera closer to the carcass! The resolution of trail cameras is always poor but they are only meant for recon and not high quality shots.
When I arrived,I looked for any activity and did not see anything. I shut the motor off and quietly drifted into the shore. I was just going to swap the card in the camera and check the carcass and make sure it wasn’t moving.
While i was there,I heard some growling very close to me! It came from behind the carcass in the bush! I couldn’t see them but they sure could see me and they didn’t like me being so close to their food cache! They started to howl at me! It was pretty cool to be so close to a wolf howling at you!
I swapped the cards and took a few with my main camera.
The male is the all black one,I call him “Pepper”. His mate I call “Salty” but I didn’t see her around,however I did count at least 4 pups!
I think I’m going to be moving it closer tomorrow!

Let The Show Begin!

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This is the spot where I found that dead Sea Lion. I set up the Trail camera on my new base.
You need to understand my logic here.
The beaches here are way too hard to drive a post into,so I came up with the idea of having a base that is secured to the post. A little bit of a Jimmy Rig to say the least,but I think it’ll work!
I can place this anywhere and simply weigh it down with rocks so that the tide doesn’t move it.
I did noticed that the body had moved from yesterday! The tide had moved it,but I anticipated that!
I took along some long spikes and nailed the body into position. Can’t have it going bye bye!
I’ll be leaving the camera out for 10 days or so. It’s in a spot that I can glass each night I’m out. I go right by this spot on my way to visit the Daredevil and Delilah, I can stop and glass the situation from a distance.
When the body is basically eaten,I’ll go back and get the rig.
I also noticed that something had been chewing away on it since I saw it yesterday!
I bet you it’s wolves!?
I should (?) be getting some great shots! Another thing that I like about this particular spot,is that I’m facing north. Which means the sun is behind me and thats good!
The tide will be submersing the rig,but the actual camera should be high enough not to go under. Nailing that carcass down was a really good idea!
This one should prove to be interesting!

Trail Camera Shots

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OK, I have a confession! I screwed up royally!
Basically in a nut shell…………I didn’t check the battery strength of the Trail Cameras battery’s before I put it out!
I assumed that they would be good? There are 6 D size batteries in that thing and I underestimated the power draw.
I had used it a week before on a another Dead Sea Lion. I checked those shots it took with the same battery’s and more than half of them were shot at night . That would mean the flash would of been firing, and thus draining the power more!
I had the camera out over top of this Sea Lion for almost 2 weeks! After reviewing the shots. I have come to the embarrassing fact that the Trail camera only took pictures on the day I dropped it off!
When it got dark and the flash had to be used,it failed and didn’t have enough power to do anything at all! It just sat there doing nothing!
I missed alot of great shots!
I also noticed another problem!
The motion detector is too sensitive and it cannot be adjusted! After I deployed the camera,it took 169 shots before it failed later that evening.
The vast majority of these shots were of ” water lapping onto the shore”! The water looked calm enough to me but the sensor is way too sensitive and they should of built into the unit a dial to adjust the sensitivity!
Every house has a outside motion detector on their lights. They have a small dial on those so that the sensitivity can be controlled.
I see no reason why they can’t have them on trail cameras?

At any rate……..I’ll be more careful in the future!
I’m looking into making my own unit. Something with better resolution too! These units have a very small sensor and produce “grainy” images! Poor quality but they were not designed for that.
They were designed for recon only! Hunters use them to see whats prowling around?
I did get some wolf shots and a few of those two Turkey Vultures.
It wasn’t a total loss,but more importantly I learned something very important!

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Trail Camera Set Up

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I went down to Cannery Bay today with the specific purpose of setting up my trail camera over that second dead Sea Lion I found.
As with everything else…….the Devil is in the details!
The tide was too high to set the camera where I had originally wanted to set it,plus the beach was too hard to set my pole in!
So I had to shoot from the hip on this one!
I found this piece of wood down there and had some spikes with me. I nailed it to this log. Worked great but I had to nail it on a angle so that the face of the camera was facing the carcass! Kind of a weird angle,but like I said……I was shooting from the hip on this one!
I set it and got out of there,oh and I set it to take one shot this time and not three! Last time all the eagles were setting the camera off and filling up my one Gig card. I bought a 4 Gig card,so that should work……I hope?

Trail Camera Set Up

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This series of shots shows the lay of the land where I found that dead Sea Lion!
You can see that I dragged it up on top of that rock in front of the Trail Camera. I did that so that one of the eagles might perch on top of the rock. Might be a better pose?
This camera will not produce excellent or sharp shots. It’s designed for recon only. It will tell me who’s around basically!
I’m going to leave it there for a week or so?
I expect mature and Immature Eagles,maybe that Turkey Vulture,bears and maybe wolfs? It’s kind of like casting a net out into the water and than hauling it in to see what you got?
If something walks along the beach at night……..it will trip the camera and take a picture of it’s self. If a bear or any other animal happened to be looking at the camera when the flash goes off……..they’ll be bumping into the trees for a few minutes!

Pine Martin

I retrieved my trail camera and had a few visitors to that Seal carcass.
This fellow is a Pine Martin and was a frequent visitor to the carcass. The camera took almost 600 shots,however the majority of shots were empty. My only conclusion for this,is that the wind must of been moving the leaves/ferns etc and triggering the camera motion sensor. I’m going to have to have another look at that manual it came with and see if I can adjust some parameters. The shutter speed on the flash shots was 1/2 sec! Thats incredible! That is so slow,that all moving animals would be a blur!
I need to fine tune this.

Black Bear


A Sow and her cub came by.
I have to reposition the camera so that the angle is better. A big furry butt does not a picture make!
The trail comes in from the right behind the camera. I need to put it so that it’s (camera) looking back at this trail .
Note:
Because I want these shots to stay together,I am not going to put the proper date on. It would put them back into the different days and scatter them in the Blog.

Wolf Taking a Peek(sniff)


When I saw this ,I was happy! I’ve been trying to get a wolf shot for months! It seemed like everyone else was seeing them……………….but me!
I’m calling this guy “Whitey”. I only got one shot. They are very smart and he may have smelled my scent around the area as well.
I’m going to replenish the batteries and put it out again.
Note: I just figured out why he’s reluctant and why I only got one shot. This was shot at 6:30 am and the flash must of gone off and spooked him!
UPDATE (Friday,May 21st) I just reset the Trail Camera and am going to pick it back up in acouple of weeks. I tried to cut down any ferns that would be waving around ,to reduce the wasted shots and positioned it to the right of this perspective. The animal trail will be seen better from this angle and thus any bears coming by will have their picture taken properly and not of their big furry butt ! !