Skip to main content
Photographer ProjectWildlife

Camera Trap Surprises II

By January 24, 2022No Comments
Photo of an albino raccoon at night on a fence. Albino Raccoon, remote capture with iPhone with the Motion Sensor app. © Dan Clements
Albino Raccoon, remote capture with iPhone with the Motion Sensor app. © Dan Clements

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

In December, we wrote about a man who posed like a supermodel for a camera trap (also known as a “trail cam”) he discovered while doing trail work in the woods. Since camera traps sometimes capture odd, weird, humorous, or bizarre images, we asked NANPA members to tell us about what wild and whacky things they found on their trail cam memory cards.

Seeing white

Dan Clements said “I had been getting glimpses of what looked like a young white raccoon and its mom raiding our bird feeders, so I rigged up my iPhone with the Motion Sensor app to see if I could get a photo or video of the critter, as I had never seen one. Sure enough, it showed up again a couple of weeks ago.” Within days, he had his answer. “Not one of the best photos, but quite a surprise,” he reported.

Clements thinks it’s an albino, rather than leucistic (one with a partial loss of pigmentation), raccoon. “Its paws and nose are flesh colored, rather than black, and its eyes appear pink,” he observed. “After doing some research, it looks like 1 in 10,000 raccoons is white or cream colored, and the chance of seeing one is 1 in 750,000: about the same odds as being struck by lightning. Their lack of camouflage coloring leaves them much more exposed to predation, so they usually have short life spans.” Albino raccoons are often rejected by their parents, adding to the dangers they face.

Albinos are rare enough that when one is spotted local news stations often carry stories about them and curious photographers and onlookers flood to the location. Clements isn’t sharing this location but, now that he has identified his nocturnal visitor, he says “it’s time to get bring out a camera trap and get a good, high resolution image.”

Screen grab from a trail cam video showing a cow crossing a creek. "Why did the cow cross the creek? Trail cam video © Linda Williams
Why did the cow cross the creek? Trail cam video © Linda Williams

Wildlife of many types

Linda Williams has trail cameras at her property in the southern Missouri Ozarks. “They tell so many stories,” she says. “Where to begin?”

Williams gets a very diverse mix of images from her four cameras. “One in my field, one on a wooded hillside, and one along the creek,” she says. Her images include “deer, coyotes, bobcats, beavers, river otters, skunks, gray fox, raccoons, flying squirrels, cottonmouth snakes, bald eagles, great blue heron, wood ducks, crows, a barred owl catching a mouse, red-shouldered hawks, green heron, belted kingfisher, ruby-throated hummingbird, spicebush swallowtail butterflies, bumble bees …” It’s quite a menagerie! She’s also recorded neighborhood dogs, and “neighboring teenage boys trying to figure out how to play back a video of themselves. I left them some directions for the next time, happy they were no longer turning the cameras off.”

“When I visit each month reviewing the cards is like opening presents,” she says. “I’m still waiting for a black bear (one was seen on a camera on neighboring property) or a mountain lion (quite a few stray through that part of Missouri). I keep some footage just for the sounds of frogs, insects, birds and rainfall.

“The babies are always fun to see, bobcats and coyotes learning to cross the creek. Wood ducks swinging around in the current like a game of whiplash. trying to make a turn with mom This past summer a fawn was fascinated watching an adult buck that had limited mobility with a lame leg, just like a human child might stare and be curious about an adult with a disability. I had a deer once spooked by a cottonmouth swimming in the creek.

“One spring I flushed an American woodcock that was sitting on a nest with three eggs. Since they always lay four eggs I knew I had time and waited until the next trip three weeks later to put a camera near the nest and got footage of the newly hatched babies with their little ‘mitten wings’ tumbling through the leaf litter. The mother was constantly making soft noises to communicate with them.

“One of the funniest videos came from a camera that I had thought was lost. I’d forgotten the location and found it months later with footage of my neighbor trying to round up his stray cows. I have my cameras set for 30-second videos. First there was a video of two cows crossing the creek. Then the neighbor crossing the creek looking for them. Twelve minutes later the same two cows crossing in the same place, same direction. Then the neighbor crossing again looking for them. Well, I just had to speed up the motion and put those four clips together to the tune of “Yakety Sax!” The final clip in this video was of a cow pushing its nose right up to the camera! I never did show it to my neighbor.”

She’s also seen a different kind of “wildlife.” “A few poachers have been recorded by my trail cams,” she said. “And then there was a ‘two-butt’ shot of a shirtless guy and his wife or girlfriend walking down the creek on a hot day, him with his pants way below his pot belly and showing his full butt … and also the butt of his .22 rifle.”

Are you using a trail cam? What’s the most unusual thing you’ve seen on a memory card? Tell us about it at publications@nanpacontest.org!

Dan Clements previously wrote about international travel during COVID, group workshops in a pandemic, and battery chargers. See more of his work at his website or on Instagram.

Linda Williams has posted several videos from trail cams on her Vimeo page.