Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘trail camera

Quick Fox

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That didn’t take long.

From the looks of the feathers that flew, the Buff put up a fight yesterday morning.

Cyndie found the lifeless body beyond the hay shed, not far from our property border to the north. That is a long way from where the trail camera captured the fox crossing our trail in the woods, but it is in the same general northerly direction. We think we have a pretty good idea about what direction from which the threat originates.

Meanwhile, my relocation of the trail cam did not produce the hoped for results. I’m guessing the motion of moving branches was triggering the captures. I scanned 722 images and found one with a nice face shot of a squirrel and one blur of a smaller squirrel leaping through the air. Nothing else, beyond wiggling branches.

Having read about the superb cunning of fox behavior, and their ability to learn patterns of our movement, I’m even more impressed over the great snapshot we have from the morning last week when the two Barred Plymouth Rock hens were dispatched.

It is not lost on us that the elusiveness of this predator has kept us entirely blind to its presence, beyond the one picture. Even though it has obviously been active during the day when we are out and about, neither of us has ever seen it with our own eyes.

Foxy, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2018 at 6:00 am

Being Stalked

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She’s all alone, but not alone. Our sole survivor from last year’s brood, this amazing Buff Orpington, has finally ended her non-stop calling for her two most recent missing companions.

She has avoided death on multiple occasions, once even getting bloodied from a too close encounter within Delilah’s jaws. Now, left to fend for herself alone on the roost in single-digit cold overnight temperatures, she seems to be doing her best to tough out her rather dire situation.

The hungry spring predators appear to be stalking with unprecedented boldness. Based on our experience the last five years, the number of roaming tracks in the snow during daylight hours has picked up significantly.

Yesterday, every time we turned around there were fresh tracks showing up in areas we had recently walked, and they weren’t all the same. I would guess a dog or coyote, probably a cat, and definitely that troublesome fox.

I pulled the memory card from the trail camera, only to find the sly critter had completely avoided detection. Based on her travel pattern, I have relocated the camera, pointing it off the trail into the woods where I hope to catch her looking more into the view, as opposed to walking across it. This will also reduce the repeating shots of Delilah and us walking the trail that tends to clutter the results.

If you look at the shot of the fox I posted the other day, she was leaving our property with nothing in her mouth. Following yesterday’s tracks led us to two different spots where a large number of feathers revealed locations where the future meals had been stashed.

Cyndie wondered about putting extra effort to protect the buff against the obvious stalkers, and as a result, we did end up coercing her back into the coop early in the afternoon. One way I look at the possible inevitability of her fate is that it would save us needing to convince the year-old chicken to accept the twelve new chicks (now looking a lot like “tweens”) that will soon be moving to the coop.

By the time the next brood makes it to the free-ranging stage of life, the phase of ravenous spring predation will have calmed to the occasional massacre by some roving set of fangs like we suffered last June. Then we’ll find out which of our new birds are as cunning and lucky as the Barred Plymouth Rocks and our lone Buff Orpington were.

It’s no wonder why free-range birds are so precious.

It’s a jungle out there. So to speak.

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Written by johnwhays

April 7, 2018 at 10:04 am

Last One

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And then there was one. Cyndie came inside from feeding the horses yesterday around dinner time and reported that the Buff Orpington was the only chicken under the barn overhang.

The chickens are usually eager for her afternoon chores because they get a fresh serving of treats to eat. It was uncharacteristic for the two Barred Plymouth Rock hens to not show up. In addition, it was snowing like crazy, so it seemed odd that they would be off gallivanting around the property without the Buff.

That pointed to nothing good.

I put on my winter gear and joined Cyndie and Delilah in a scouting mission around the grounds. We circled past the trail cam, and I grabbed the memory card from it.

Cyndie had picked up three eggs from the coop in the afternoon, but our search didn’t come across any tracks revealing recent activity in the vicinity.

We headed inside with a sinking feeling of more loss.

For all the multitude of empty scenes that regularly show up on the trail cam, this time we landed one positive ID out of the nine images on the card.

That little fox walking toward the fence was ten minutes ahead of Cyndie and Delilah walking down that trail on their noon trek. They never saw it, but I bet Delilah smelled the scent.

We took a tiny bit of solace in the fact there was no chicken in the fox’s mouth in the image.

At dusk, with a looming trepidation, Cyndie went down to close the coop. The Buff was in there all by herself. With Delilah, Cyndie walked one more loop around the back pasture for any sign of what may have happened.

It was Delilah who took noticeable interest in a dark spot inside the fence. Cyndie tied Delilah outside and climbed through the wires and found the proof of our worst fear.

Now we are wondering if we will be able to accelerate the introduction of our new chicks to the lone surviving chicken from last year’s flock. The poor girl must have been cold and lonely all alone last night in the coop.

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Written by johnwhays

April 3, 2018 at 6:00 am

Roost Achieved

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I was all excited to check the image card after another overnight on the trail camera, but there was nothing there. I think the batteries expired. If any new prowlers showed up on the second night, we’ll never know.

In a strange result of nature, we received a quarter of an inch of rain yesterday before I got home, but the grounds looked like five-times that amount had fallen.

There’s almost nowhere to step that doesn’t turn out muddy when you move off the pavement or wood chips. Delilah jumped up on Cyndie in a fit of excitement and painted a wonderful image with her dirty paw. It’s time to pull out her kiddie pool and park it by the front door so she can wash her feet each time we enter the house.

On my way home from work yesterday, I stopped in Hudson to pick up some accessories to improve our electrical hook-up to the coop. It’s just extension cord for the time being, but at least it can be more soundly secured extension cord while it’s there.

I’m working toward properly burying a supply wire from the barn and securing it per electrical code guidelines, but the chicks needed heat much sooner than I could execute the necessary steps to wire it right the first time.

Later in the evening, when we walked down to reset the trail camera with new batteries and a cleared image card, we found one of the Rhode Island Reds had made her way up onto one of the two parallel roosts that offer the highest perch in the coop.

I have wondered whether having the roosts set right at the level of the large window would be a drawback for them, so seeing a bird on the roost was a big deal for me. I felt good that she didn’t panic or jump down when I came all the way up to the window.

I’m not confident they will be so comfortable when it is a large cat that shows up to look in on them.

If it proves to be a problem, I can easily add a board to provide increased privacy for them. While we were lingering there, one of the Buff Orpingtons joined the Red up on the roost. It won’t take long for the rest of the copy cats (chicks) to follow suit, I’m sure.

Remember, our chickens are brilliant.

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

Deer Crossing

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Our latest positioning of the trail cam has proved successful in capturing some deer traffic on —or across— one of our pathways. Snapped ’em coming and going. Based on the hoof prints we have seen, it was obvious there are some youngsters hanging around. While this spot appears to be a crossing point, the little one had altered course toward the camera in the wee hours of the morning.

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Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2016 at 6:00 am

Trail Cam

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We finally got ourselves a camera to monitor the animal activity on our trails. The big challenge will be figuring out where the best vantage point is for capturing activity. I took a first crack at it over the weekend and hit the jackpot.

Two different species of ferocious forest animals were captured in their travels across our trail. We now have a clear explanation for why Delilah gets so worked up, because we have photo-evidence of the threatening intruders that have been encroaching on her turf.

M2E1L0-0R336B386

M2E85L160-160R396B366

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Hey, don’t laugh. Don’t you remember that scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail?”

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Written by johnwhays

February 22, 2016 at 7:00 am