Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Small flash

I'm still trying with the hummingbirds, trying to get a colorful shot that excludes the plastic feeder. Since the birds don't go near the few flowers we have, the color has to come from the birds. These first two shots were taken with the Canon M100 mirrorless, 70-200 lens, and the onboard flash, triggered with the Canon wifi cellphone app. Because the little flash fired, the iridescent neck feathers reflected some (depending on the angle) of the light.

The third image was taken with the 1D Mark III, 500 f4 lens, and natural light, prefocused and remotely triggered with a Canon IR transmitter. Good image, but it's got that plastic feeder in there.

The plastic feeder pulls them in, but then what? The solution would be a bed of hummingbird-friendly, colorful flowers, but that's probably not going to happen this late in this short summer.

Regarding species, I think the bird in the top two images is a male Rufous, and the bird at bottom (and in the July 19 post) might be a female Broad-tailed. Those IDs seem consistent with the range information and illustrations in the Sibley Guide to Birds.


The two overqualified Reconyx cameras had been doing yard duty since last fall, but I had an opportunity to deploy them near a cabin on Forest Service land this week. So unmelted Browning #5 slides over to take over yard duty, and melted Browning #6 gets back into full-time service monitoring the bluebird box. It's a sad-looking camera with camo tape covering the seams, which are no longer watertight due to the fire damage. But the camera works.

Monday, July 19, 2021

More hummingbirds

I haven't had a lot of success with my new motion sensor yet. Bluebirds seem too small to set it off consistently, and I haven't even tried it with hummingbirds. These images are remote triggered, 5D Mark III with 500mm lens. Prefocused, ISO 400, 1/640 at f8. My new feeder got damaged by someone or something (a deer, the wind, the mowing crew?) so the prop is still the ugly plastic feeder. But I cobbled together a fix and the new feeder is now in service. I've seen up to four hummingbirds at a time competing for the sugar water.


As mentioned, non-melted Browning #5 is monitoring a bluebird nest box. Every once in a while it gets images of deer in the background.

This is one instance where trailcams and remote triggers aren't the best solution. Sometimes you just have to be out there with camera in hand. Two deer with different solutions to the fence. I'm guessing that the deer with antlers would have a lot of difficulty doing what the other deer did.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Best so far

I wonder if the noise of the 1D Mark II is driving away the bluebirds. The past few days, I've been using a 100mm lens and the camera is less than 10 feet from the box. This afternoon I replaced it with the 500mm lens on the 5D Mark III about 30 feet away. We'll see if it makes a difference. I'll go back to the other setup overnight. I got two three-shot triggers last night just after midnight, but no joy. I was hoping the flash would wake up by the second or third shot of the first group, but that didn't happen. It was awake and charged for the second group three minutes later, but there was nothing to be seen.

Even if the bluebirds are staying away, the LBBs (little brown birds) are still coming. Technically this is probably the best shot I've gotten so far even though it is rather boring. If this was a bluebird I would be much happier.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


I finally have motion-triggered images that aren't interpolated, oversharpened marketing hype. I've made the leap from trailcam to camera trap.

These are the first two usable images triggered by my new Camtraptions Wireless PIR v3. I decided to err on the side of caution and set the PIR to high sensitivity, so to save some shutter activations on my Canon 5D Mark III I am using my venerable Canon 1D Mark II. It is 17 years old, I haven't used it in nine years, and the battery doesn't work for very long. Fortunately it came with an AC power adapter. Bottom line is I've got a high-tech wireless PIR attached to an ancient DSLR that is plugged into a power outlet.

There are reasons I moved from the 1D to 5D nine years ago, chief among them the cleanliness of the sensor. I needed to go on Photoshop spot patrol with these 1D images, but it's doable. Even after all this time, the 5D's system for sensor cleaning is very effective. But one thing I forgot about the 1D was the burst mode. The 1D is rated at 8.5 images per second vs. 6 per second on the 5D, but it seems a lot faster than that in comparison. No doubt, in 2004, it was a great sports and wildlife camera. My flash can't keep up with that speed so I set the PIR for three shots a second apart.

Maybe I will get a picture (in color) of the cat that has been trying to get into the bluebird box at approximately 11:30 pm most nights. And maybe the flash will scare it away.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021


As many as six deer at a time have run through my yard the past few weeks. I don't mind if they lay in the shade on our soft new sod, but they don't need to be eating our trees, shrubs and flowers. Every once in a while they get caught in my sprinklers. Sometimes it's the timer, and sometimes it's me. Most of these are from the Reconyx cameras except one from the unmelted Browning.

Sprinklers on!


For whatever reason, we don't see a lot of hawks around our Montana home. They seem to have ceded the area to ravens and magpies. I set my unmelted Browning trailcam to get video of the bluebird box a few days ago and grabbed some frames of this raptor flying by. I think it is a kestral. I'm also including video of a magpie trying to get into the box.

To repeat a complaint I've made a thousand times, it is frustrating that trailcam image quality is so bad. I have a very nice PIR trigger for my DSLR on the way from England, but I won't be able to leave it out all the time so the oversharpened trailcams will continue to have a role.