Saturday, June 4, 2022


The trailcam showed the bluebirds were bringing food to the nest, so I deployed the 1DII with 70-200 lens to try to see what they are feeding the chicks that I presume are inside the nest box. A fuzzy caterpillar seems to be a popular choice. The bluebirds have been eating the mealworms I have set out, but I'm thinking they don't give those to the chicks because they're aren't very juicy. Just a guess. I shot some images with remote trigger and some with motion trigger, didn't really keep track of which was which.

Thursday, June 2, 2022


I don't do a lot of video with the trailcams but, to be honest, I wanted to see if my new Browning was better at video than still images. I think the stills are overprocessed in camera. Maybe the videos are also, but maybe the Browing is more suited for that role than making single images. Here are the bluebirds early this morning carrying out their activities, even with the sprinklers interrupting.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022


I got a new cheap bird feeder to see what I could attract to the yard besides bluebirds. I put it and one of the birdbaths on the side of the yard away from the bluebirds to give them some space, and immediately attracted a bunch of finches, including goldfinches. Despite the two separate areas, one of the goldfinches intruded on the other side of the yard and the male bluebird spent five minutes trying to drive him away.

The first feeder image was taken with the M100 remotely triggered with a cell phone app. The camera is very close to the feeder and the focal length is 37mm. The goldfinch at the feeder and the female bluebird on the post were 500mm lens on 5D Mark III remotely triggered with my long-range infrared device. Once again I was reminded that remote and motion triggering require pre-focusing, and it doesn't always work even with a small target area. These are in focus, but not all of them were.

Also shown are overnight visitors to the new birdbath location.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022


There seems to be spot in my yard between the bird box and the fence around my trees where the fox and deer funnel through. The deer prefer squeezing through the fence rather than jumping over it, at least until they get antlers. The weird thing about this image is later frames show the deer backing up rather than going forward. The new Browning has dual lenses/sensors, one for daylight and one for night. The camera determined this 5:54 AM shot should be taken with the daytime sensor, which resulted in a very dark image which I had to tweak in Photoshop.

Saturday, May 14, 2022


It was a good day with the 1D Mark II and the bluebirds. Shown below are four images taken with the motion trigger. I also got one of a first-time caller, a red-winged blackbird. I didn't post it because the bird is facing away from the camera. I was in the yard when it triggered, and I'm sure the noise of the ancient DSLR scared it away. Fortunately the bluebirds are used to it.

But I'm leading off with a sandhill crane, the first I've gotten in Montana. I hear them honking off in the distance frequently from the back yard, and this is the first time I've gotten close enough to get something. The cranes I saw in New Mexico over the years didn't have the reddish-brown body, but I'm guessing that has to do with the time of year. I usually carry the 5D Mark III on my bike rides, but today the battery was dead so I hooked the M100 to the 100-400. The image quality is a bit disappointing, I'm sure because I had to crop extensively. It's not a remote trigger or motion trigger, so technically it doesn't belong on this blog, but my blog my rules. The final image is a couple of deer this morning on the melted Browning #6.

The last few days a harrier hawk has been swooping through the field behind the house. I'm going to start leaving the 5D/100-400 by the back door because the hawk doesn't linger long. I just need to keep the battery charged. I think the battery is getting weaker since the camera is 10 years old. I actually read the DPReview writeup of the Canon R5 this week. Besides the $4,000 cost, I'm a bit put off by Canon introducing yet another lens mount. Since Canon abandoned the manual focus FD mount, they've come out with EF, EF-S, EF-M and RF. All of my lenses except for the 15-45 kit lens that came with the M100 are EF. I've got an EF to EF-M converter for the M100, and the R5 would need an EF to RF converter. (EF-S is for small sensor DSLRs, which I don't have.) I never thought the 5D Mark IV was a necessary upgrade for me, and that model is already almost six years old. There will never be a 5D Mark V, so if I want to get a new top-line EOS in my lifetime, the mirrorless R5 or its successor would be it.

Thursday, May 12, 2022


Not many images in recent days. Yesterday's 1D session was a complete non-event, and today I didn't even bother because it was raining. The deer seem to have rotated out for a few days, and the bluebirds are unpredictable. Overnight, I got some shots of the fox on two different cameras, in the field to the west on melted Browning and near the new birdbath on the new Browning. The image from the melted Browning was very noisy and I applied 50% noise reduction in Photoshop. The new Browning image is not as grainy, but I think that is due to in-camera noise reduction. It reduces the fox to a smear, so perhaps it would be best if it didn't do that, but there is no setting for that. The times of the images differ by a couple hours, so I need to check the settings on the cameras to see if they are accurate.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

In the blind

The DSLR with PIR motion sensor has gotten some decent flight shots of the bluebirds this spring, but for a static shot of a bird on the fence I decided the remote trigger would be more effective. Basically I'm sitting in a blind (my house) waiting for a bird to land on the fence next to the nest box. When the bird lands, I trigger the camera with my Canon LC-4 IR remote. I got this remote more than 20 years ago. It has an incredible range of 300 feet but it was insanely expensive at the time. I had a camera equipment addiction in the early 2000s.

The first image was taken just after sunrise during the golden light, but the focus point is a bit too far forward and it is slightly out of focus at f/5. I did some Photoshop processing to make the image good enough for posting here, but I'm not 100% satisfied with it. The other two have a bit more depth of field at f/8. The vertical image is an extreme crop because there is nothing to the left of the bird in the original image, the hazard of prefocusing on a selected point.

When I was in Massachusetts circa 2005, my house was a lot closer to the landing area and I would shoot through an open window. To get even closer, sometimes I used an actual hunting blind. The advantage of doing that was I could frame the bird properly and let the autofocus do its work. I'm sure the other person in the household will think I'm weird if I drag out the hunting blind (she wasn't around the last time I did it), but sometimes you do what you gotta do. You won't see those images here because they won't fall into the remote trigger/motion trigger category.

Saturday, April 30, 2022


I don't like doing vertical orientation but sometimes it is necessary. The PIR motion detector is OK, but I'm starting to think it is kind of slow for fast-moving little birds. I got out my Canon wireless trigger today and got some shots, mostly vertical, with the 5D Mark III and 300mm lens, firing away as the bluebirds approached and hoping to get something. The fourth image is the 1D Mark II, 70mm lens, motion triggered. Finally, I had the new Browning monitoring the birdbath and got this of the male coming in for a drink.


A fox traveled through our yard in daylight a few days ago. I wasn't quick enough with the DSLR but I was able to watch him/her cutting through back yards on its way north through the subdivision. I have several recent examples from Browning #5 facing east toward the house, but it didn't register this daylight incursion. I have taken melted Browning #6 off birdbath duty and it is now facing west toward the open field where the fox has been seen in daylight in the past.

Our lawn looks awful this spring, due in part to some critters burrowing under the snow and tearing up the grass. There should be plenty of prey for the fox. I got a shot back in January where it appears it caught something. Here are the April shots, including one during the day on April 10.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Upon further review

Here's a few more from the latest trailcam review. The first is a coyote on the Primos near the cabin, then a few more Primos moose, and finally a "night" shot from the Reconyx near the bridge about 100 yards further west. In the shady forest, sometimes the cameras take B&W images even though the sun is up. Note that the first two Primos images are from the morning of Feb. 20, and the Reconyx image is from that afternoon, so the moose was in the neighborhood all day.

Thursday, April 28, 2022


In an effort to beat the rain, I went out to service my trail cameras in the National Forest south of Red Lodge. I didn't beat the rain entirely. Two of the three cameras had dead batteries but got some moose images before they gave out.

The Primos is my worst camera. Image exposure is all over the place, usually blown out overexposed, but sometimes underexposed. I had it out there essentially as a security camera for the cabin, not expecting wildlife to come within range. But it managed to capture a moose, and the exposure was resoundingly adequate. The other two moose images were taken by my older Reconyx 100 yards to the west. The first Reconyx moose image shows small antlers, other two taken later do not. I'm not sure what that means. The Reconyx also got an image of a cat. There were no humans in the sequence, so rather than a domestic cat I think it is a bobcat.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


The thousands of trailcam images I get of the bluebirds are OK, but what I really want is DSLR images shot with a decent lens and not oversharpened by in-camera processing. Like this one. Canon 1D Mark II, prefocused zoom lens set on 70mm, 1/640 at f/11, triggered by the PIR.

Of course the trailcam is still deployed. The builders were a bit optimistic with one of their delivery attempts yesterday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022


We were away for about 10 days, which you can read about in my regular blog, but the trailcams in the back yard were running. We start with a magpie at both the box and the bath, then get to the bluebirds. They seem to be well along in building a nest inside the box despite two snowstorms. Click on an image then scroll left and right.