What is BushCam Adventures?

BushCam Adventures attempts to share some of the amazing images, stories and insights that I've collected during my camera-trapping adventures.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Vermin of a different kind.

Sadly the police in South Africa, like in many other countries, often have a bad reputation. There are just too many examples of the men in blue implicated in criminal acivity - from the highest level downwards. Nevertheless I have no doubt that the majority of the force is inherently honest and doing a vital job that none of us care to do.So I wasn't sure what to think when this picture showed up when I checked my cameras recently.
Now I need to explain that this is a very quiet spot alongside a stream that flows into the sea. Here I have often caught pics of  otter, porcupine and genet. I also need to explain, particularly to those of you that don't live along the coast of South Africa, that the illegal poaching of abalone (called perlemoen around here) is rife in these parts. Abalone is caught, processed and sent to the Far East where it has a reputation amongst the wealthy for its 'medicinal' properties. Because the abalone resource has largely been depleted, and is illegal to harvest, prices are high and so 'organised crime' is heavily involved. Illegal harvesting usually usually works as follows:
Divers come ashore at night with their haul and stash it somewhere, usually under water, for later collection. When all looks quiet the 'stash' will be retrieved, often by someone else.
So I wasn't happy to see the next image...

Its not clear from this image but the green bag undoubtedly contained abalone.
So, had it been hidden in the stream for collection by a corrupt cop? That was my initial thought but I had to wonder why my camera was left untouched. It may have been difficult to spot after dark but during the early evening it was very conspicuous.
However the next image confirms, I think, what happened.

This image was recorded a few hours after dark. The person in question was clearly looking for something. I think he had been sent for the 'stash' but the cops, probably acting on a tip-off, got there first.
So well done done to the police. I wish I'd aimed the cameras a bit higher as I might have recorded more detail of the poacher.These guys need to be caught since they are undoubtedly our worst vermin!

Sadly, there is just one thought I can't get out of my mind: what happened to the bag of abalone?

Monday, 21 March 2011

The more you practice.....

Gary Player is credited with saying " The more I practice the luckier I get" and I guess the same goes for using a trailcam. But it's not just about practice - its also about putting in the hours of hard work. Having tried unsuccesfully to "catch" my otter at a seemingly good Betty's Bay site, I decided to widen the search. So we scouted other streams in the area for any signs of these elusive creatures and eventually found what we were looking for. An otter latrine!
Otters habitually use a 'latrine' area where one can usually find plenty of scat (faeces). These scats are often in various stages of decay and give a good indication of how recently the otter passed by (if you'll excuse the pun).
So we set up the trusty trailcam and retired for the night, hoping that we wouldn't be disappointed, again.
When we retrieved the camera the next morning our hopes soared because there was very fresh scat, and right in front of the camera. And sure enough: some great images. Not exactly National Geographic quality but way more exciting for us. Whoops of joy and high fives all round!
We'd caught them at last.

And a few days later.....

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Something to Celebrate

A twentieth wedding anniversary is a huge milestone in any relationship. So we decided to splash out and celebrate in style at a fabulous country  lodge. This establishment is renowned for its amazing food, accomodation and service and, by chance, just happens to have a bit of wildlife that wanders around. So, by chance, the trailcam just happened to find its way into my bag!

The attractions of the lodge, and in particular the honeymon suite, were many. So this didn't leave much time for scouting around for a good site to install the camera. There was however an interesting area in a dry riverbed, just below our suite, that had loads of game tracks. There was no time for further exploration as dinner was about to be served, so this had to be the spot.

There was no indication the next morning that anything had passed the camera in the night. But how wrong I was!

 Something to celebrate indeed!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Ghosts on the Beach

We're fortunate to regularly visit Betty's Bay which still has a great deal of wildlife. Animals like mongoose and francolin are frequent daytime visitors to gardens while porcupine, genet and grysbok can occasionally be seen at night.But my favourite sighting is the otter (Cape Clawless Otter) which we ocasionally see running across the beach. It never fails to give me a thrill to see these wonderful creatures.
Apart from the occasional sightings of otters I often come across their tracks on the beach. Previously this was of purely academic interest, but now, with a trailcam.....!
Their tracks lead to and from a small pond near the beach, so, how difficult could it be to catch them on the cam? Well, it proved to be extremely difficult. If I put the camera at one end of the pond - they went to the other. If I placed it on their usual route to the pond - they seemed to find another route.
The months went by and I began to doubt whether my trailcam could actually sense a passing otter.Or rather, whether they sensed the camera, got spooked and avoided it. They were like ghosts in the night. So I consoled myself with the knowledge that getting wildlife photos is never easy and requires a huge amount of patience and skill.
So, no otter pic with this post - just a sign of their ghostly passing! But I was determined to find a way to 'nail' them.

Monday, 7 March 2011

This is for the birds...

After a few days of 'capturing' the neighbourhood dogs and cats I felt the need to expand my horisons. I was still getting up before the sparrows to check my camera but it seemed I needed a new site.
I'd been hearing our resident African Goshawk regularly but he/she seemed to be spending more time in our garden than usual. A quick scout around showed the tell-tale 'whitewash' under a large stinkwood - things were  looking up! Climbing trees, for me, ranks up there with sticking needles in my eyes but I managed to find a likely looking perch. I got the camera fixed and got down with all bones intact.
And the next morning.....Bingo! Loads of great images of our goshawks. I guess from their calls that one is a juvenile (as a parent I know the sound of a hungry child) but they look pretty similar to me. Can any twitcher out there confirm if I'm correct?