Saturday, July 14, 2012

RoboCam at the fox den

Last week I took the RoboCam to the nearest fox den for a test! I had had the TrapCam placed there a few days with fairly good results. As I got there, no fox pups were up and I was worried that they were not at the den at all. We have started to see the wander around quite a lot and also very far from the dens. On a few occasions they have been seen at different musk ox carcasses. As I was still assembling the robot a fox pup stuck its head out of one of holes. The robot is far from silent. The squeeky sounds of the dusty wheel bearings and perhaps the whirring of the servos seemed to be a problem. The fox did not like it and went down into the den again. I was probably not patient enough and made advances too fast. Then another fox appeared. I took it more steady and drove the robot slowly. This one did not seem to care much about this new visitor! At one stage it lay down to rest and I drove the robot really close. In other years I have sometimes approached the fox pups to about a meter after habituating them for a month or so. I realised how difficult it was now to get a nice composition with the robot without being able to tilt, swing or roll (the camera is not always level). So I thought perhaps I can just sneak up slowly and silently and do some shots handheld. I managed to get to within 70 cm. The fox was in a deep trance like sleep it seemed - but still looking at me with a half eye once in a while. Suddenly it woke up fully and seemed surprised that I was this close! It seemed to be thinking what to do before it slowly rose and walked away. A third fox came up and started to hunt for spiders and other small critters. I followed it a bit with the robot and it did not seem to bother it at all. I am surprised how little getting used to the robot some of them needed. Now I am on my way back to Denmark for a break. I look forward to use the RoboCam again when I get back to Greenland in August. Then I will also try my luck with the musk oxen.