I imagine the patience a photographer must have when lying in wait for a lion to lunge upon an antelope, or a kingfisher to perform a timed dive and snatch a fish from below. Predators need to minimize energy expenditure when foraging, and so, must choose wisely when to strike their prey. Photographs capture the ephemeral, but one snapshot can take months of preparation. Though the photographer will never become obsolete, modern technology now allows us—through the use of trail cameras—to capture spectacular moments such as these without spending days or weeks in wait.

Anticipation gives way to impatience though. We deployed a couple of camera traps throughout the park and I couldn’t wait to see what they captured. For someone who has trouble waiting a week for a new Planet Earth episode to come out, it’s pretty difficult to wait ten days for your own camera clips to develop—to see if they were even successful or not.

Jerry-rigged coyote camera.

Each camera was placed in a different location and baited with a predator scent lure in order to attract coyotes. Our goal was to gather an approximation of how many coyotes are in the park. Since a coyote is unlikely to revisit a scent lure more than once, each sighting would equate to one coyote individual. Though I’ve seen a coyote in the park myself, the camera traps unfortunately haven’t blessed us with any coyote shots yet.

This could be due to a number of factors, or some combination of them. It could be that heavy rains suppressed the scent given off by the scent lure, or that there was too much human scent at the trap sites, which would deter coyotes from approaching them. Maybe the cameras were placed in a poor location, or we simply got unlucky. Either way, the camera traps did give us some lively deer, raccoon, fox, and groundhog photographs. We’ll just have to test our luck with placing the cameras in different locations now. Patience is a virtue!

White-tailed buck with velvet antlers.

 

Applying the scent lure in a spot cleared of undergrowth (to act as a makeshift mold for coyote paw prints).

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