About my Trail Cams


It is official: I now have 2 trail cams that I will be using to get footage of animals in my back yard.  I got my first one for my birthday in September (the Akaso trail cam) and I got my second one for Christmas (the Bushnell one).

Bobcats are one of the several animals I have seen in my back yard on my trail camera, like this guy posing for the camera.


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Area Profile - Snohomish, Washington

Here is an area map of the Snohomish area.  My house is located is located about 12 miles southeast of Everett, Washington (drive goes pretty fast going highway 2 and you know you have gone to far if you get to Monroe first).  Snohomish as a growing small city and is surrounded by valleys and farmlands to the west, and forest and foothills to the East (along with the Sky Valley).  Highway 2 goes right into the Mountains via Stevens Pass from Monroe (kinda like Interstate 90, but mostly a 2 lane mountain highway, with the exception of the short freeway section near Everett).
Here is a closer look at where my property is.  It is that little blue blip on the map.  Just east of Snohomish and right by where the golf course is.  My back yard is surrounded by forest and is on top of a hill, with view of the cascade mountains in the distance.  Close by my small neighborhood is some farm land (some people own horses in the area, especially over by Dutch Hill Elementary school), and is much more rural than it is in downtown Snohomish.  Not too far from here are the Pilchuck and Snohomish rivers and Monroe is less than 10 miles east of here. More wooded areas too, great for coyotes, bobcats and other animals to hang out.  BTW, the field across the street is slowly being converted into a small development, so that will probably affect animal sightings in the field.

Overview


Have you ever wondered what kinds of animals you get in your neighborhood, especially at night when everyone is sleeping?  I live in the outerskirts of the Seattle area (Snohomish to be exact) and my house has at least 2 acres of lands, backs ups to woods and is kinda out in the foothills (with nice views of the Cascades in the distance (you can also see Mount Baker to the north on a clear day in my neighborhood).  Across the street from my house is a field where you can see coyotes, raccoons, deer, and possibly even red foxes scurrying around (I haven't seen them, but one of my neighbors think they are around, though coyotes are much more common than foxes in my neighborhood), though sadly it is slowly being converted into a development which will mean less animal sightings as a result (maybe some of them will move to my own back yard considering that there are no plans of building behind my house anytime soon.  I've been using the trail cams (primarily the Akaso one) for a few months now and I have already been getting some interesting results with them.  You know what inspired me to getting a trail cam: the web cams I've been watching on the Simon King Wildlife website.  It is a website owned by naturalist Simon King, based out of England and it has some cameras people can watch (like a lake camera, badger fox feeder camera set in some meadows, a "fox family" camera set in someone's garden in the London area), and others.  Some animals I have seen on those cameras includes: red foxes, badgers, squirrels, field mice, black cats, and various kinds of birds.  I do live far away from England (Snohomish Washington to be exact, literally on the west coast of the United States), but the cameras have made me curious about the wildlife in my own back yard, so what better way to learn about the local wildlife than to set up trail cams.  With trail cams, you can set them up where you want (I usually tie mine to some trees) and whenever animals come by, the camera takes pictures and/or videos of them.

On the down side, sometimes I do get false positives (where the camera goes off but nothing is there) and there are days where I get little or no activity (though I have been doing some experimenting on finding good hotspots for animal sightings), but that is probably to be expected sometimes, especially considering that I am still a learner when it comes to trail cams.  Will probably get more adept at capturing animals on my trail cams by the end of next year (as I get more familiar with my back yard and various hot spots).  Will probably also bring my trail cam(s) with me on future camping trips, future trips to my condo in Bend Oregon (Eaglecrest Resort) and possibly Malibu BC next year (assuming I go on the men's retreat), though I will probably have to get some anti theft devices before taking them to public places.

Noteworthy captures so far (from my channel on youtube, though not every video I have posted):

Coyote Feeding Frenzy video (at least one coyote was feasting on some bread crumbs and apple slices right by my trail cam)

Besides Coyotes, we also get bobcats in my neighborhood.  Interestingly, the bobcat seems to notice the camera and has been checking it out (had another sighting last night which I will share later)

Managed to get some videos of my golden retriever Tucker on the trail cam (though sadly he passed away near the end of November).  Not sure if we plan to get any new big dogs anytime soon.  I kinda like the idea of getting a siberian husky or an alaskan malamute as my next dog, but nobody else in my family wants one, so it is unlikely I will be adopting one anytime soon (unless they change their minds)

Here was a coyote I saw in the field across the street once.  The only downside: I think the streetlights messes with the infared light, making it harder to see.  But I did see a coyote once there.

One night last month, I got 2 coyotes running by my trail cam in the back yard.  Usually only one is present at a time, but once I got 2 coyotes

Here is a short video I got of a coyote running by my brother's fort in the back yard.  Usually I don't get activity there, but sometimes animals do come by, like this coyote (slowed down the video a bit so people can get a good look at the animal).


Another thing I have noticed about my trail cam: we do get lots of small animals, including opossums, squirrels, rabbits, and small birds (though we also get bald eagles, owls and hawks sometimes too).  In this video, I put out some backyard feed and more or less got a timelapse of squirrels and stellar jays eating the food I had put out (feeding frenzy style).  
I have other videos I have posted and will post more videos over time.  I usually share my latest videos on Youtube (you can visit my channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/ryansjones) for the latest videos I share (alternatively, be sure to subscribe to this page's feed and you should get updates whenever I share new videos from my trail cam among other things I post).

Animal Profiles from my trail cam area


Regular visitors (these are animals I see most frequently):

- Small birds (finches, robins, etc).  These guys are small and often visit my cameras.
- Stellar jays.  These guys are kinda like blue jays with some differences.  They pretty much eat anything you put out for them and are sometimes known to make appearances, especially when I put food out for them
- Opossums.  These are probably the most common of the nocturnal rodents (as opposed to raccoons) and are most frequently spotted by my shed.  One time I got one on camera feasting on some eggs one night.

- Squrrels.  These guys are pretty common too and are usually seen during the day.
- Rabbits.  Yes, I do get rabbits hopping by sometimes, especially between dusk and dawn and sometimes they are out late at night too (ironically, that is also when the coyotes and bobcats are most active too).
- My neighbor's dog Hank (a black lab).  My neighbor has a black lab named Hank, and he does seem to be a frequent visitor by the shed area.

Also my golden retriever Tucker used to go by there sometimes, at least before he passed away back in November, so I won't be seeing him there anymore.

Less common animals.  These guys do come by sometimes, but not every day or night (though these guys seem to be most active at night):

- Coyotes.  Like the foxes I have been seeing on the Fox web cams (see https://www.simonkingwildlife.com/fox-family-cam/) I've been watching (based out of England), here in my neighborhood in Washington State, we do get some wild canines coming by every so often in my back yard, though instead of foxes, we mainly get coyotes instead.  They are kinda like red foxes in a way, but twice their size and are known to howl at night (much like wolves do).  Not sure if we get wolves in my area, but we do get coyotes for sure.  Sometimes I will hear them howling at night too (even when I don't see them), especially in the summer months.  Will definitely have to be careful about letting my little dog Angel (the shih tzu) out at night now that I know that we have coyotes that come through every so often (and now with Tucker dead and gone, who usually offered protection for Angel when she goes out).  These guys seem to be most active at night, though sometimes they can be seen early in the morning or late in the evening and usually you can only see one at a time (though sometimes you can get 2 or more present).  You never really know when coyotes are going to come by too.  Some nights I get them on my trail cams, sometimes I don't.  Most recent sighting (as of this posting): December 24 (was at church when they came by that evening).

This hungry coyote came by eating the sliced apples and bread crumbs I had put out for squirrels and birds.  Interestingly, rabbits are also active at night too, making for potential prey for coyotes (especially over by the shed).
 Bobcats.  The second most common carnivores I have seen so far are bobcats.  These seem to be the most common cats I have seen by the trail cam.  These guys are bigger than the average house cat and have grown curious about my trail cam.  I don't see these guys as often as I do coyotes, but they have made appearances on 3 different occasions since I started using trail cams (with the most recent sighting happening last night).  Interesting story: back in October, we had some family friends staying a few nights from Arkansas (my dad's friends Keith and Linda) and one night when they were here, not only did I see a coyote on my trail cam one night, I also saw a bobcat twice (once on my trail cam, and once with my own eyes as I was hanging out on the porch).  Was drinking a Moscow mule drink on my deck (pretty easy cocktail to make with ginger beer, vodka, lime juice and some ice) when all the sudden I saw a bobcat trotting by through the yard.  I stood up to get a better look at it (forgot to keep my digital camera handy) but it ran off as soon as it saw me, even with me still on the deck.  Interestingly, my dog Tucker didn't seemed to be phased by it either.  One behavior I have noticed about bobcats: they seem to be smarter than coyotes and have taken notice of my trail cams and have been checking them out sometimes.  They seem to notice the infrared light too.
Here was a bobcat I saw posing for the camera
Deer.  Have seen deer on the camera on a few occasions too.  Interestingly, if I take the camera with me to Eagle Crest (Bend area), I will likely have deer sightings to share there too as they seem to be pretty common there, especially in the warmer months.

Feral cats.  These are small wild cats (kinda like kitty cats but are wild):
Haven't seen these guys lately, but I did see some by my shed sometimes (one seemed to take residence under it for a little while there)

Other animals I haven't seen on camera, but could encounter eventually:

- Cougar (aka mountain lions).  I can't say I have ever seen a mountain lion in the wild besides the ones I saw at Northwest Trek (let alone in my own neighborhood), but they do seem to have a presence in the area and could make an appearance eventually (would be quite the discovery if I did).  Here is a cougar a fellow youtuber saw on their camera somewhere here in Washington.

One interesting thing to note about mountain lions: my brother Justin claims he saw one along the side road just down the hill from my house one night as he was driving home.  The area down the hill on the side street is pretty secluded (surrounded by woods) and sketchy people are known to linger around there sometimes, and Justin claims he saw a cougar there once.  I didn't see it, but I might be interesting setting up my camera in that area sometime and see if I can catch the cougar on camera.  Interestingly, there is no streetlight on that road either, so it is pretty dark at night.  Could be a potiential spot for cougar sightings.  Interestingly, I have some buddies from my church who live right behind where the church is (Snohomish Community Church) and they claim they get cougars and coyotes in their area (apparently the coyotes there are more aggressive than the ones I have hear).  Also I do remember hearing about a cougar sighting along the centennial trail near Centennial Middle school about a year ago too (even in broad daylight), which is less than 5 miles away from my house (article can be found at http://q13fox.com/2015/05/26/cougar-spotted-near-local-middle-school-students-told-to-stay-inside/).
- Raccoons. I have seen them in the neighborhood myself, especially in the field across the street, as well as along the side road down the hill. Sometimes I have seen roadkill raccoons on various roads and highways too, especially along the highway 522 freeway near Monroe as well as the highway 18 freeway near Auburn.  I can't say I have seen them on my trail cam yet, but I know they are around here (they will probably get more active in the warmer months).  Interestingly, last time I was visiting Bend, a family of raccoons came by and were checking us out.  One good place to set up a trail cam if I could: point defiance park, along the 5 mile drive section.  I usually see raccoons along there from time to time.  They are also a common sight at Northwest Trek too (like these guys in the video below)
Black Bear. Interesting story: one day several years ago, I was running errands with my mother (she used to like taking me with her running errands, at least before getting a job at Crossmark). And as we were driving down the hill from my house (near the field across the street), at black bear literally ran right across the road and watched us briefly before running into the woods behind my house.  Marked my first time seeing a bear in my neighborhood.  They do seem to have a presence in the area, but I can't say I have seen one on my trail cam yet.  The area by the fort seems to be a potiential spot for bear sightings (the one we saw was pretty close to where the fort is), same goes with the field.  They are obviously hibernating at this time of year, but when it starts warming up, I could have some sightings to share sooner or later.   Here is a video below of a bear a fellow youtuber saw:
Red Fox.  According to one of my former neighbors (lived in the house across the street near the field), apparently coyotes aren't the only wild canines my neighborhood gets as there may be some foxes present as well.  These cute canines (much like the ones I have seen on the fox family and badger fox feeder cams) are smaller and more elusive than coyotes are and I can't say I have seen one yet in my neighborhood, though I have seen them elsewhere, most notably at Northwest Trek (like the one in the video below) and more recently, on San Juan Island (American Camp / South Beach area).  I have been setting up my trail cam pointing towards the field occasionally to see if I can catch the fox on my trail cam, but I haven't seen it yet.  You are definitely more likely to see a coyote in my neighborhood than a fox. but a red fox would be quite the discovery if I did see one on camera.  On a side note, they seem to be pretty common on the fox web cams I have been seeing on the Simon King Wildlife website, like this guy below:


 
BTW, I should go camping on San Juan Island sometime and bring my trail cam with me and see if I can get any foxes on camera there (they are definitely more common there than they are in my neighborhood, probably due to the lack of coyote population there).  Interestingly, the presence of coyotes probably keep foxes at bay here.  I have read that foxes tend to be more scarce in areas where coyotes are since coyotes are known to hunt and eat foxes sometimes (they view them as competitors) and we do get coyotes in my area, so foxes are probably less common as a result.  Still there may be some foxes in the area (especially in the field).  One interesting story: I was driving to my church (Snohomish Community Church) one night last December (2016) and close where to my brother Justin's friend Nick's old house is (he is now a police officer living in the Portland area), I saw a pair of foxy looking eyes (though coyotes have similar eyes) and saw what appeared to be a cross phase red fox (the ones with the darker fur and what looks like a black mask on their faces).  Sighting was short lived though is at looked at my car and ran off into the woods, though I was able to make out its body and bushy tail (probably would have gotten a better look at it if I wasn't driving).  Face was too dark too (though definitely bigger than a typical cat), but I could tell it was most likely a fox (officially marked my first time seeing a fox in the wild since moving to Washington and possibly since the time I saw one in Wisconsin many years back when I was still a kid).

Others: Owls, Eagles, Hawks, Lynx (I know we have bobcats, but I am not sure if we get lynx, which are about 2x the size of bobcats), wolves (they seem to be more common east of the cascades than west of the cascades, though their range do seem to be slowly expanding), Sasquatches (just because I haven't seen one doesn't necessarily mean they don't exist and I do live in a wooded area, so they could have a presence around here assuming they do exist, and I have heard about sightings near Duvall too, which is kinda like Snohomish in some ways and is about 10 miles south of Monroe on highway 203) and skunks.

That is all for now.  Animals I have seen so far includes: deer, coyotes, bobcats, rabbits, squirrels, small birds (including stellar jays), opossums, neighbor's dogs, and feral cats (will add to the list as needed over time).

Future plans:
Now that I have 2 trail cams, I will definitely have more coverage and sightings to share too (for example, now I can set them up in more than one spot and do more than one angle too).  I also tentatively plan to take at least one of them with me on future camping trips, trips to my vacation home in Bend, and possibly Malibu BC too.  Will have to get some kind of anti-theft device to ensure they don't get stolen when I take them with me.  May eventually get a 3rd cam if a need arises, but I think 2 will have to do for now.

Notes and disclaimers about the trail cams:
- No guarantee of sightings.  I can't promise I will have sightings to share on an every day basis.  As I already know, sightings tend to be hit and miss.  Somtimes I have activity to share, sometimes I don't.  Usually don't know what animals my cameras pick up till I check them (usually the next day, though sometimes I will have to leave them out for a few days, especially when my day jobs pick up).  BTW, if you opt to buy trail cams for your home, I can't guarantee you will have results either.  The results I have been sharing are based on my own personal experiences and are based out of my own area (Snohomish, Washington).  Every area is going to be different and may yield better results than others.  Obviously cities are probably going to yield less spectacular results (though you may get smaller animals like squirrels, pigeons, raccoons and maybe even the occasional urban fox or coyote sometimes in cities), but I live out in the country side (my house literally backs up to woods), so I will get some bigger animals in the area (especially like coyotes and bobcats).  Feel free to share your own experiences with them.
- On a flip side, you could be in for some unexpected surprises.  You never know what you might capture on trail cams.  I am sure I will be in for some surprises over then next year (like the coyote feeding frenzy I got the other night). You may even learn about more potentially dangerous animals too (like bears, cougars, wolves, lions, etc) too.  Use at your own risk.

Have you ever considered getting a trail cam for your property?  You can check out these cams from Amazon.com (affiliate) below: