I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published December 6th 2018
With Christmas coming, I've started to think about presents to buy people. I've also been remembering presents I've received and given over the years. It's always hard to decide what to buy family and friends.
The best present I ever received was a Wildlife Camera from my son a few years ago. It was on special at Aldi.
A wildlife trap camera is a remotely activated camera that is equipped with a motion sensor or an infrared sensor or uses a light beam as a trigger. It takes photos of creatures out and about at night or during the day when people aren't around.
I love my wildlife camera. When I first got it, I put it out around my house for a couple of nights. I discovered I had a ringtail possum living in my backyard. I knew I had brush-tailed possums because I hear them thumping along the roof at night, but I didn't know I also had at least one ringtail.
I used to have an old Labrador dog. After she died a few years ago, I left a bowl of water on the deck for wild birds to come and have a drink. I've seen butcherbirds and magpies drinking from it. I put a shallow water bowl beside the big bowl. One night I put the camera up on a pole near the deck to see if any night creatures came for a drink. The camera picked up a rat and a brushtail possum on the deck coming for a drink. You never know what is happening around your home while you are sleeping.
I always take the camera when I go on bushwalking base camps. I put it up in the bush. I've got some interesting captures including a yellow robin, a bar-shouldered dove, bandicoots, snakes and possums. Recently I captured some foxes while camping near Samford. There was also a mother and baby brushtail possum on the same log, just a few minutes before the foxes. I hoped the foxes didn't kill the possums. I notified the Moreton Bay Council and they investigated the area.
It is always exciting after I got home from a trip and downloaded the photos from the SD card. You never know what you will see. About five years ago, we borrowed a wildlife camera from the Sunshine Coast Council because we suspected there were wild dogs on our property up there. I had heard stories of packs of wild dogs killing stock and poultry on neighbouring farms. There were stories of them ripping newborn lambs from their mother as soon as they were born.
A local council officer loaned me a camera with new spy technology. He tied it to a tree overlooking our large dam and left it there. At the time, we lived and worked in Brisbane so it was about six weeks before we got back to retrieve it.
Our suspicions were confirmed. The photos showed two wild dogs crossing the dam wall. There was also a fox with brightly shining eyes. I had heard there were foxes in the area but never thought they would be on our farm.
The camera showed wallabies by the dam early in the morning. It also showed horses we had agisted on the property swimming in the dam and eating water lilies. We had roped off the large dam to stop the horses polluting it. They had three other dams to drink from. But we found they outsmarted us and went around the side of the rope and got into the water for a swim and munch on lilies.
My sister in Tasmania lives in the country and wants to get a camera to see what is going on around her area at night. She knows she has rabbits, barred bandicoots and lots of birds. I've seen Yellow-tailed black cockatoos in her trees, Tasmanian native hens and brush-tailed possums, but she is not sure what else she might have lurking around at night. She did find a rare albino marsh frog under one her pot plants once when I was visiting her.
My brother in law said the best present I ever gave him was a small round leather pouch to put his loose change in. He must be the only person left who still carries cash!. He was devastated when it wore out after many years. I tried to get him another one from Eumundi markets where I got the first one but couldn't find them. I have seen cheap imitation ones from China. Eventually, I found one at a great leather shop in Eumundi. He was thrilled.
Queensland farmers on large properties are buying these high tech spy cameras to catch thieves who steal and kill their cattle. A trial around Dalby, Warwick, Toowoomba and Charleville regions caught 62 people on 140 charges, including a man who stole and butchered cattle for pet mince.
The cameras are battery or solar powered and can operate in all weather taking up to around 5000 photos at a time. They can be easily camouflaged in trees, logs or rocks. They also record the temperature, date and time the photo is taken.
I read an article about a year ago that an outdoor camera shop in Toowoomba is selling around 60 of the hidden camera kits a week to farmers and government bodies. Some farmers with large properties buy up to eight cameras and set them up around their land. Thieves are being deterred from going onto properties with cameras because they don't know where they are. The cameras have also caught people cutting fences and riding around the private property on motorbikes.
Governments are using them to catch people illegally stealing wildlife and the cameras are filming pest species. Wildlife researchers are also using the cameras now instead of trapping and releasing wildlife to see what species are living in an area.
They range in price from around $100 to thousands of dollars for the more sophisticated ones.
So if you want to find out what happens when you are not around, maybe you can give a hint to your family to buy you one this Christmas.
I'd be really interested to hear "What was your best Christmas present? "