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Thread: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

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    Scotland Moderator Billy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Wow. It looks like the mountainous wilderness in Ecuador and Scotland are twins.
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Maybe they ARE twins!! Thanks for the video, Bill!

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  5. Link to Post #123
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Billy (here)
    Wow. It looks like the mountainous wilderness in Ecuador and Scotland are twins.
    Yes, it really is astonishingly like Northern Scotland. (Maybe that's why I feel so much at home here.)

    Remarkably, I also found this video: see below. This is EXACTLY where we were on our last trip a couple days ago. The largest of the lakes you can see in the YouTube thumbnail there is the same lake I posted photos of here, a few posts earlier.


    Hi-res image: http://projectavalon.net/Bill_and_Ma...final_lake.jpg

    It's just a few minutes, and spectacular... do watch.

    (I should somehow get a drone with a camera. It might save us hours of time trying to find the best route when lower down in the valleys, lost among the quinoa trees. Might be good for spotting large animals, too. )

    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 13th August 2017 at 15:36.

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  7. Link to Post #124
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Excellent, now we have our bearings, it feels more 'familiar'. Bill and Mara sitting exactly where drone flies over lake.
    Is there going to be a 'drone' fundraiser, and if so will it not weigh a lot for long treks? However, seems a great idea..... 👍
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  9. Link to Post #125
    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by avid (here)
    Excellent, now we have our bearings, it feels more 'familiar'. Bill and Mara sitting exactly where drone flies over lake.
    Is there going to be a 'drone' fundraiser, and if so will it not weigh a lot for long treks? However, seems a great idea..... 👍
    Well, I guess a drone could be flown all the way, so apart from spare batteries and the controls, there'd be no weight at all.

    The trial cam is still a definite project that I think about all the time. I was excited to read about the sightings of rare animals on the park's own hidden cameras. (Wow.)

    But ever since Mara was busted for illegally being in the park, OMG — see here — the problem has been how to access the central area. That's why all our recent trips have been to areas way to the west, which are remote and very beautiful, and also quite easy to get to (though 'easy' is a relative term! ) without being seen by the rangers, who just never ever go there. But there are many other valleys to check out.

    When we find what seems like a great place for the trail cam, then I'd love to set it up. One of those little meadows I photographed on our last trip — see below again — might be a perfect spot. There's water, shelter, trees, large rocks, vegetation of all kinds, lots of small wildlife for predator food, few humans ever go there (we only found them when we were lost! ), and open views for the camera. The hike up from the trailhead is maybe an hour and a half. It's really not a bad idea.


    Hi-res image: http://projectavalon.net/Grassy_mead...the_way_up.jpg


    Hi-res image: http://projectavalon.net/Another_grassy_meadow.jpg
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 13th August 2017 at 16:19.

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Hi Bill,
    I was wondering if the trail cam ever worked out with any images? Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)

    But ever since Mara was busted for illegally being in the park, OMG —

    (just as were setting off early Tuesday morning, Mara (who, like all other dogs, is officially verboten there), was spotted by a ranger, and we were ordered to leave the park. The guy was really quite upset.)
    It's completely crazy isn't it, unless to do with the risk of disease spread such as rabies it really makes little sense, and even if that - not sure it makes sense anyway. Do you know the actual reasoning?

    It can't be to do with chasing wild game can it? Picture the Llama..

    "Psst, Leon, don't look now but there's a dog coming."
    "Heh, pretend you haven't seen it Cynthia, wait till its almost on us and then scoot." (snigger)

    -compared to-

    "Sh*t, Puma, RUN!!"
    "...Arghhhh.." (mega-stress)

    ---

    I had the kids out for a walk just a couple of weeks back in the 'outback' of Northumberland, forestry land. On all the gates there were new signs about dogs - 'Take it home' and "Don't let your dog foul" or similar.
    So the Deer, badger, fox, sheep, weasels, rabbits, pigeon and pheasant can crap where they like but god forbid a dog should need to go. Understandable on urban pavements but graded forestry roads, come on!

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  15. Link to Post #128
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Ewan (here)
    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)

    But ever since Mara was busted for illegally being in the park, OMG —

    (just as were setting off early Tuesday morning, Mara (who, like all other dogs, is officially verboten there), was spotted by a ranger, and we were ordered to leave the park. The guy was really quite upset.)
    It's completely crazy isn't it, unless to do with the risk of disease spread such as rabies it really makes little sense, and even if that - not sure it makes sense anyway. Do you know the actual reasoning?

    It can't be to do with chasing wild game can it?
    No formal statement of the reasoning. I can kind of imagine, though: not all dogs are the same (by any means!), so they have to play safe and ban them all.

    It's a very delicate alpine ecosystem, and any big dog that was good at chasing or catching ducks or ducklings on the hundreds of lakes, or even finding and eating eggs (or, for that matter, digging out small rodents, etc), might create a lot of impact. The llamas can certainly take care of themselves, but smaller animals might not be so able. Meanwhile, Mara's never come close to catching a single thing, big or small, and she's also pretty well-trained. So my own conscience is clear (and hers is, too!) ... but we still have to negotiate the rules.

    I've still not found a workable way into the central area, by-passing the park authorities. In theory we could hike in from the western perimeter, which is outside of the park, but it'd be a heck of an expedition, crossing several 14,000' mountain ridges. That might be a full 4 days, in and out. And the longer the trip, the heavier the pack. (I've not yet found a way for Mara to carry her own food. )

    It's the western area which is easily accessible without any hassle ('easily' being a comparative term!), and where I've spent almost all of my time. It's profoundly beautiful and very remote, and my plan is to set up the trail cam in one of the gorgeous little meadows shown in the photos a few posts above. Wawa Grandes might be unlikely there, but it'd be fun to catch a puma, or even — just maybe — a tapir or a spectacled bear.


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  17. Link to Post #129
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)

    It's the western area which is easily accessible without any hassle ('easily' being a comparative term!), and where I've spent almost all of my time. It's profoundly beautiful and very remote, and my plan is to set up the trail cam in one of the gorgeous little meadows shown in the photos a few posts above. Wawa Grandes might be unlikely there, but it'd be fun to catch a puma, or even — just maybe — a tapir or a spectacled bear.
    Done.

    The day needed an early start, but in the end, having set my alarm for 4 am, I decided to turn it off and not use it. (Alarm clocks tend to wreak havoc with sleep metabolism.) I woke up on my own, at exactly 3.59 am.

    It was a two and a half hour drive to get to the trailhead, half of that on a high dirt road ending at 12,000 ft. The meadow was a further thousand feet up and two miles away, and Mara and I reached it in 55 minutes without stopping. (A good workout! ) It was extremely quiet, sunny and beautiful, and we stayed there for quite a while.

    I set the cam to record HD video, for a maximum of 90 seconds per clip. The meadow is a small, flat natural clearing about 100 yds across, and should be exactly the kind of place where animals come to drink. I'm thinking I'll retrieve it in maybe 2-3 weeks or so. If it's been successful, one option is simply to exchange the memory card and leave the cam right there. We'll see.




    Hi-res image: http://projectavalon.net/Grassy_mead...the_way_up.jpg


    Hi-res image: http://projectavalon.net/Bill_at_the..._trail_cam.jpg
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 12th October 2017 at 02:50.

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    hi Bill,
    Is the middle picture what the trail cam will be seeing? If so it looks like a great spot, water and cover and possible food sources. How exciting to find out what might visit there! If a Wawa shows up and you capture one on the camera what would you do with evidence, other people might want to know where you caught them. Would you try and habituate yourself by visiting the Wawa and bring food gifts etc back for more contact?

    the shaggy bark of the tree almost hides the trail cam...
    Last edited by mojo; 12th October 2017 at 17:29.

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  21. Link to Post #131
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by mojo (here)
    hi Bill,
    Is the middle picture what the trail cam will be seeing? If so it looks like a great spot, water and cover and possible food sources. How exciting to find out what might visit there! If a Wawa shows up and you capture one on the camera what would you do with evidence, other people might want to know where you caught them. Would you try and habituate yourself by visiting the Wawa and bring food gifts etc back for more contact?

    the shaggy bark of the tree almost hides the trail cam...
    The cam's on the right, looking left, so the field of view is the direction of the arrow, 90º to the photo viewpoint.



    A Wawa visit right there seems unlikely, but hey, one really never knows.

    There are arguments that the Wawas would all be hiding away somewhere very distant from any local villages, but another guess is that they're not too far away, and make periodic nocturnal raids on remote homesteads for chickens, ducks, goats, and maybe even dogs or cattle. (Some cattle do graze freely on the more remote lower slopes of the national park area, where there are no rangers and no fenced boundaries. I'd be sure they occasionally go missing, and the farmers may just assume the predators are pumas.)

    The big biological question is what the heck the Wawas live on. The ecosystem is pretty thin up there, but large animals like pumas and spectacled bears do survive. (Deer, lamas and alpacas graze, of course, but they have a different digestive system.)

    Pure speculation! If one did turn up, I'd certainly release the video, but NOT state exactly where it was taken. (I'd reference the previous reports from the wider general area, and just corroborate them.) I'd then try to make some kind of contact, for sure. It's quite a nice thought to consider a platter of little gifts, and then a video of a Wawa taking them.

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  23. Link to Post #132
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    ... agree on your point about the high elevation ecosystem, the Wawa might have to travel greater distances for food sources so he might travel through the valley and the camera is at a good angle to catch anything following the water source. Since this is an experiment data will indicate how active the valley is but since your also an avid hiker I bet you have already inferred things about the location by the tracks and other indicators on what fauna is there and how populated. If I may make suggestion on the next location if you continue and if this local does not pan out to find a spot just above the forest biome at the ecotone where a travel corridor and food resources are nearby. An example might be the road travelling up from the valley bottom and just as it exits the rain forest to higher elevations would be the spot where two biomes meet and usually highly productive in terms of wildlife...

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  25. Link to Post #133
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by mojo (here)
    a travel corridor
    Yes, exactly. The clearing where I placed the cam is on the only travel corridor for that valley... there's no other easy way to get from the expansive alpine terrain much higher, down to the lower more fertile, farmed areas, without negotiating thick vegetation, rocks, or steep ground.

    It makes perfect sense to place the cam on a corridor 'bottleneck' like that, contained in area but also open enough for good views of anything that passes by.

    There's another similar little meadow in the same valley, but in all the other valleys I've explored so far there really aren't that many places that seem so ideal. The combo, I think, is that it needs to be
    • reasonably accessible (for me!)
    • near water, ideally (but not critically)
    • on a travel corridor
    • focused, yet open enough for good video or photos (where animals would need to come quite close to the cam)
    • remote, i.e. NOT near where many humans would ever come, or else I'd just get a bunch of battery-draining false triggers.
    It may take some experimentation to learn more about what works best. It's designed to operate and record unmaintained for 2-3 months or more, but I need to understand how fast the 32 Gb card fills up, and how fast the batteries would drain using HD video. I also need to know how easily it'd be triggered by (e.g.) small creatures like birds or rodents, or whether it's really only sensitive to larger animals.

    The more I think about it, the more I think I'll go back up there in a couple weeks to check it out. I'm very curious already.

    One thing I did learn immediately is that in very bright light, the little LCD menu screen is almost impossible to see. (Not a design fault! The day I set it up, the sun was extremely bright, and I had to improvise a makeshift 'darkroom' with my clothing to know exactly what I was doing.) Next time, I'll bring a large black garbage bag to make that much easier. And I'll be able to see what's been recorded right there and then by swapping the card to my regular camera, which has a large, bright screen.


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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Wish I was there exploring the possibilities but at least this way many viewers including myself can be a part of the experience through what you share along the way. The notations in the above post sound right on. Im excited that your having a fun time doing this as that is part of the journey. You might be surprised they find you first...

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    The trail camera I have was way too sensitive, taking pictures whenever the wind moved nearby vegetation. Perhaps some trail cameras have a sensitivity adjustment. Mine did not and often filled the memory card with vegetation moving with the wind. It may help to trim vegetation closest to the camera within the field of view.

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    What a beautiful area and great idea. If initial results are successful, Many trail cameras have optional accessories, such as larger external battery packs that are weatherproof and can recharge on solar, “security cages” to prevent theft, and things like this.

    Some of my trail cameras that take HD videos with infrared motion detectors and have a flash will drain AA and C batteries within just a few days worth of wind blowing branches at night.

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    JoefromtheCarolinas,
    Is there any advantage to pictures over video? Maybe that saves batteries and less data storage? Looking forward to the first test results but perhaps there will be necessary learning curve...

    PS: Im also looking for a trail cam and here's a helpful video of newer cams and surprised what they can do...
    Last edited by mojo; 22nd October 2017 at 20:33.

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by mojo (here)
    JoefromtheCarolinas,
    Is there any advantage to pictures over video? Maybe that saves batteries and less data storage? Looking forward to the first test results but perhaps there will be necessary learning curve...

    PS: Im also looking for a trail cam and here's a helpful video of newer cams and surprised what they can do...
    I find that pictures never quite get the movers. The cam gets motion tripped, and the flash goes off. Maybe you get a nose or a hoof. The animal gets scared and runs, and you’re lucky if you get a blur of something running away by the time the trail cam shoots another picture and flash. Often pictures will capture decent images of birds.

    When I’m trying to probe an area on the land here, I always use video- this also gives me an idea on the animals behavior in the area cuz I can see it moving. Real helpful for coyotes that are super smart and learn my movement patterns. I always carry an empty card and a full set of recharged batteries. I swap them out every time I pass by. I set the video setting to record for 10 seconds. Its long enough to save memory card space while getting what you need, and not burn an entire card with windy branches.

    Thanks for the video btw.
    Last edited by Joe from the Carolinas; 24th October 2017 at 03:31.

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by JoefromtheCarolinas (here)
    I find that pictures never quite get the movers. The cam gets motion tripped, and the flash goes off. Maybe you get a nose or a hoof. The animal gets scared and runs, and you’re lucky if you get a blur of something running away by the time the trail cam shoots another picture and flash. Often pictures will capture decent images of birds.

    When I’m trying to probe an area on the land here, I always use video- this also gives me an idea on the animals behavior in the area cuz I can see it moving. Real helpful for coyotes that are super smart and learn my movement patterns. I always carry an empty card and a full set of recharged batteries. I swap them out every time I pass by. I set the video setting to record for 10 seconds. Its long enough to save memory card space while getting what you need, and not burn an entire card with windy branches.
    Yes. My post here may be a little premature, but it's an interesting discussion!

    I set mine (ours!) to video only, for 90 second lengths — the maximum option. It has 8 new AA batteries and a 32Gb card, so I'd be confident it's still going strong, unless there was a whole family of Wawas up there all having a party.

    I'm heading up there again on Wednesday morning to retrieve the card, and I'll swap it out for an empty one. I'll only move the cam if for some reason I've barely got anything at all.

  38. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Bill Ryan For This Post:

    avid (24th October 2017), Foxie Loxie (25th October 2017), Joe from the Carolinas (24th October 2017), kanishk (24th October 2017), mojo (24th October 2017), Nasu (25th October 2017), Spirithorse (24th October 2017)

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    Moderator Joe from the Carolinas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    Quote Posted by JoefromtheCarolinas (here)
    I find that pictures never quite get the movers. The cam gets motion tripped, and the flash goes off. Maybe you get a nose or a hoof. The animal gets scared and runs, and you’re lucky if you get a blur of something running away by the time the trail cam shoots another picture and flash. Often pictures will capture decent images of birds.

    When I’m trying to probe an area on the land here, I always use video- this also gives me an idea on the animals behavior in the area cuz I can see it moving. Real helpful for coyotes that are super smart and learn my movement patterns. I always carry an empty card and a full set of recharged batteries. I swap them out every time I pass by. I set the video setting to record for 10 seconds. Its long enough to save memory card space while getting what you need, and not burn an entire card with windy branches.
    Yes. My post here may be a little premature, but it's an interesting discussion!

    I set mine (ours!) to video only, for 90 second lengths — the maximum option. It has 8 new AA batteries and a 32Gb card, so I'd be confident it's still going strong, unless there was a whole family of Wawas up there all having a party.

    I'm heading up there again on Wednesday morning to retrieve the card, and I'll swap it out for an empty one. I'll only move the cam if for some reason I've barely got anything at all.
    Oh yeah, 32 gb is definitely enough space for that size video. Most of my cards are old 8gb's. I always move the cam if nothing was captured, I call it "fine tuning"
    Last edited by Joe from the Carolinas; 24th October 2017 at 22:36.

  40. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Joe from the Carolinas For This Post:

    Bill Ryan (24th October 2017), Foxie Loxie (25th October 2017), mojo (24th October 2017), Nasu (25th October 2017)

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