I opened the brown box and lifted out what looked like a miniature camouflaged lunch pail. The camouflage struck me. Camouflage is put on something to conceal its presence.
I turned the little pail over and recognized a camera lens behind a sheet of glass and a honeycomb webbing above the lens. Curious, I opened the clasp on the pail and saw inside slots for twelve AA lithium batteries. The pail seemed like some sort of camera, but I couldn’t figure out how to take a picture with it. I saw no button to release the shutter. I looked toward Bruce.
“Okay,” I said, “I give up, what is this?”
“You don’t have any idea?” said Bruce.
Thinking back I remember him saying, “you will love it; it will help you write stories; it has something to do with your donkeys.”
“I know it’s something I’m supposed to love; it seems like some sort of camera, but I already have a camera,” I said.
“It’s a game trail camera, and it takes a picture whenever it senses motion. Place it on a tree, a fence, or a post, and all the animals moving within the range of the lens get photographed. It takes two frames per second and uses infrared technology, so it can capture images day and night,” Bruce said.
Therefore, I’ll get to see the coyote that make the scat we find along the trail. And maybe even see a cougar! Last year workman saw a smaller male cat cross our prairie. And though a cougar could eat a donkey, I’m not sure if this is the connection Bruce referred to when he said the gift “has something to do with your donkeys.” I hope not.
But before capturing movement along a game trail, Bruce wanted to solve a mystery. He set the camera up the next day at the quail feeding station. In two days the camera took 170 pictures, but none were taken at night. Although the feed was scattered inside the thorny hedge and on a high platform, the feed seemed to be disappearing more quickly than it should. So, Bruce wanted to find out if deer or if the badger living nearby might be eating the grain.
Excitedly we put the data card into the reader, plugged it into my Mac and looked through the images on the laptop. I hoped for pictures of coyote (they will eat almost anything if hungry), deer, or badger, and instead three animals came up again and again: Ouzel our dog, Chippo the donkey, and California Ground Squirrel.
So far Bruce is right this camera does have something to do with my donkeys. It seems the camera will prove all the mischief the donkeys get into during the day. Ouzel, of course, being the beloved queen bee of our pack will be forgiven for her wrongdoings and ground squirrels, well, they are famous for taking every opportunity.
Perhaps the game trail camera will give me more than I bargained for. Future frames will tell.