Trail camera captures Florida panthers, bears and other wildlife
The miles on foot and in the car were piling up. Although always successful, the result was often not what I wanted.
On recent hikes to my remote sensor camera set up in the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem watershed in Collier County I would mumble: Is it configured correctly? Are the batteries dead? Did a bear knock him down? Did the rain destroy the cables? Did the flashes fire correctly? Did a Florida panther or a bear wander?
In the past two years, all of the above have happened, except for a bear knocking over the camera from a distance. The system has been one of the most frustrating experiences of my career. When it works, however, all those frustrations go away.
When I started using the camera in 2016, I was consistently getting the wildlife I was looking for – panthers, bears, deer and other cool mammals. But for the last 1 1/2 to 2 years, the harvests have been thin. I blame a variety of reasons, mostly user error, aging gear, and a bit of Mother Nature mixed in. Nothing is more frustrating than looking out the back of the camera and seeing swaying grass or a few frames of black because the flashes weren’t firing properly.
But everything changed at the beginning of the year. I seemed to have figured out some of the issues and started seeing animals on the back of the screen. A mother turkey with her poults in tow, a beautiful bobcat, a wild pig using a tree as a scratching post. Finally, on the last day before the arrival of the tropical system, I won the grand prize: a rare Florida panther beautifully lit and close to the camera. This is one of my favorite photos of the cat. The fur and facial detail just amazed me.
The fruitful part of walking there is documenting the beauty of the watershed with my camera. The group of deer, wildflowers, butterflies and swallowtail kites. Recently, I documented over a dozen birds in aerobatic flight.
I have the system to document the amazing wildlife of Southwest Florida that we don’t see on a regular basis. Panthers are elusive and usually don’t hang around when humans are around. It’s a chance to see these guys up close without being there.
Look for more camera footage in the future.
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Thank you for following this visual journey.