Camera Traps

Michelle and I spent this afternoon guiding a couple of visitors. Two guys are at Mornington this week with 30 remote, motion-activated cameras. The idea is to point the cameras at bird nests, leave them in place, then download the images later. If it works, we’ll get photos of predators at Fairy-Wren nests, and see what’s eating the baby birds.

Of every five Purple-crowned Fairy-Wren nests with eggs, only one will fledge at least one chick. Predators eat the rest (except for a few that are flooded during rainstorms). The most regular villains are probably goanas (5-foot-long lizards) and snakes, but who knows? We’ll have to check the photos. With these cameras, we’ll even be able to tell what’s happening at night, because they switch to infrared during darkness – except, of course, if a cold-blooded snake hits the nest at night, the infrared won’t pick it up.

Another sunny day here, hot, sweaty, and sticky. Yesterday I hiked up a small escarpment next to camp to get an overview of Mornington Station. In every direction, arid bush undulated unbroken to the horizon – this is really the middle of nowhere!

4 replies
  1. Diane Strycker
    Diane Strycker says:

    I love your blog.
    So I have a question for you. Are you able to intervene if you were to observe a predator trying to eat eggs/chicks in a nest in the wild? Or are you only able to observe and record?

  2. Noah Strycker
    Noah Strycker says:

    Hi Diane – No, we don’t intervene, just observe. Even if we wanted to, the cameras store photos until we download them later, so it wouldn’t be possible!

  3. Ed Conrad
    Ed Conrad says:

    Hey Noah,
    I’m loving reading your blog and your photos are great like always. Daily highs average 107 degrees Fahrenheit you say? Hmm. But you are in the middle of nowhere meaning the dirt roads just stretch for miles—err, hundreds of miles—right? And the middle of nowhere means you probably don’t have much traffic/visitors either eh?
    Seeing your blog is really making me want to spend a field season at Mornington, but as always, I’m just wondering how practical it would be to run there? Do you run at night? Are you allowed to run at night? (a question I ask since here in Jamaica running at night is not allowed). It looks like a wonderful opportunity and that’s so crazy that Megan will be working there too following your stint!

  4. Noah Strycker
    Noah Strycker says:

    Hey Ed – Yeah, you could pretty much run as far as you wanted here, never run out of dirt road, and never see a single car. But it’s hot. Depends on how you do in the heat, I guess; the first and last hour and a half of each day is easily runnable (field work starts at dawn, one day off/week, but evenings are flexible) while the rest of the day is pretty blistering. You could definitely run at night, but you’d need a good light – I haven’t done it yet but I might do some longer evening/night runs as I get settled in. Yeah – crazy Megan is coming here. Even crazier that I have randomly spent prior field seasons with TWO other people here right now: Sara (working with me on Fairy-Wrens) was at Keauhou in Hawaii with me, and I spent a season nest-searching in Michigan several years ago with a girl (named Jen) who is now here on a Crimson Finch project. It’s a really, really small world… I think you’d like it here!

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