Saturday, September 30, 2017


On my trip to western South Dakota this week, I kept encountering single photo subjects: A bighorn camped out for days along a road in the Badlands, a bison grazing along the rim above the Badlands, a migrating butterfly stopping off in Custer State Park, a golden eagle soaring above the Conata Basin, a badger lumbering through a prairie dog town in the basin, and a lone cottonwood on the otherwise treeless expanse of the basin.

Click on any of the images below to start the slide show.


Lone tree

Bighorn at sunset

Solitary bison

On the road home

The purpose of the trip was to redeploy my trail camera in some manner. Part of that involved temporarily putting two of them in a prairie dog town in the Conata Basin south of the Badlands to see if I could find a black-footed ferret. At first I thought I had succeeded, but I now believe I got images and a short video of a badger. It's still a first for me. Anyway, this is the current trailcam situation:

  • #1 Bushnell is permanently retired.
  • #2 Reconyx remains in Wind Cave National Park for a seventh year.
  • #3 Moultrie has been repositioned from Wind Cave to Custer State Park. I had a spot picked out on the map but it turned out that mountain-climbing skills would have been needed. Instead I returned to an area where I had previously placed #4 facing a spot that looks like a natural funnel due to fallen trees, but I don't know if the wildlife in that area is very exotic. In other words, there may very few elk and no mountain lions, in which case I'll figure out something else.
  • #4 Primos continues to drive me mad with its false triggers and washed-out daytime images. But when I waded through the 368 videos it took in two days sitting in a prairie dog town in the Conata Basin, I found one great 10-second nighttime clip of a badger. If I could somehow restrict the Primos to triggering only at night, I would, but this particular camera does not have this feature. For now it is sitting at home awaiting another temporary assignment.
  • #5 Browning is at my brother's cabin in Montana.
  • After serving an overnight stint in the Conata Basin and getting still images of the badger, #6 Browning replaced #3 Moultrie in Wind Cave National Park.

Next spring I will probably pull #2 and #6 out of Wind Cave. After seven years, I think I will have thoroughly documented the elk that pass through that area. Unless #3 reveals something new in Custer State Park, I will probably place most of my cameras in the Conata Basin in search of burrowing owls, ferrets, and (yes) badgers.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Still experimenting

I'm a gizmo addict, and one of the gizmos I'm always trying to find is an effective way to connect a camera to my telescopes. When I saw a $12.56 Landove cell phone adapter on Amazon, I jumped on it. I got the order on a cloudy Monday the day before I left for Buffalo Gap National Grassland and wasn't able to test it out, so I packed my Televue to try a few things out on my trip.

The prairie dog pictures simply did not turn out. Whether it's a cell phone or a conventional camera's LCD screen, focusing the scope in daylight is very difficult. But I was able to get decent results shooting the sun because I was able to focus on the sunspots. For a camera phone, this is pretty good. Click on the image for the full-size version.

Shot through my cell phone (with telescopic assistance)

This gizmo is already a success, but the next test when I get home is to see whether it will work with my Coronado solar scope. I've had that scope for years and have never gotten a decent image through it.

Saturday, September 09, 2017


We were supposed to be in Glacier National Park in early September, but nature interceded in the form of large forest fires that covered much of Montana with smoke. We pivoted south through Yellowstone and got caught in a traffic jam while approaching the lake. The reason for the jam became apparent eventually when we saw bison swimming across the Yellowstone River. We got to the front of the jam just as the last of the herd was crossing the road and heading toward the river.

Click on any of the images below to start the very brief slide show.

Bison swimming the Yellowstone