Monday, August 14, 2017

"Who Goes There?"

Grandma Campers are, by their very nature, explorers! They like to know stuff. Probing, seeking, speculating...."What is that made of, grandma?" "What would happen if we did it this way instead?" Encouraging and rewarding curiosity is the most challenging - and best! - part of this annual summer experience for me!

Last year, we brought home ladybug shaped rocks, painted them, wiggle-eyed them, and secreted them in neighborhood flower beds and mail boxes under the spine-tingling cover of night. How many would still be there the following evening?  Anxious with excitement, we had our answers when we ventured back to see!

But our backyard wooded lot consistently holds the best source of adventure and discovery. We've filled cardboard tubes with peanut butter and added a clever method for detecting critters who might enter for a nibble. Oh, they were there, all right, we learned the next morning, but speculation over what they looked like has hung in the air for over a year! Tiny footprints left behind are simply not enough!

We need to know, "Who goes there?" 

My purchase of a trail camera has been a satisfying investment. It's delighted even the biggest kid among us (me!). A trail camera is perfect for strapping to a tree, a foot or so above a carefully arranged peanut/corn/berry buffet of wildlife treats.

Daylight hours capture full color images (both video and still shots - audio, too!) of scampering squirrels and chipmunks. An occasional blue jay will swoop down to snatch a peanut. But our best mysteries are solved in the morning after all night monitoring. That's how we discovered our inquisitive raccoon guest. He's one of the wood dwellers who only come out at night!

I've coupled the camera with a wildlife guide that we consult daily during Grandma Camp. Clearly illustrated are animals we're likely to see here in the midwest - turkeys, white tail deer, opossums....pretty tame compared to the rattlesnakes and exotic lizards you Arizonians might be fortunate enough to capture! We envy you!

"Hey lady! We're out of peanuts again!"

But I might add some manufactured drama of my own when the kids get a bit older. We'll set the camera right around Halloween. Under cover of late, late night, wearing a spooky skeletal mask, I'll peer into the lens, grunt menacingly, and shake the camera vigorously before the screen goes blank! "Who goes there?" you ask? I don't think the kids are gonna want to know!

The classic Reader's Digest North American Wildlife Guide is a great resource for identifying backyard visitors. 

This is the fourth post in a series of 2017 Grandma Camp highlights that begins here. Enjoy! The fifth, and last is here!


  1. Your nature photography is amazing. My photography skills are so lacking that I'm not sure even a great camera could help!

  2. How cool is that! Fabulous and fun idea, Grandma! I'm gonna look into one of those cameras. We have all kinds of critters around my place. (Tho my hubby will want to set it up somewhere in our house at night because he SWEARS we have ghosts... but I'll be too scared if it turns out he's right. So that'll be a NO on indoor use!)

  3. More great fun at Grandma's with the trail camera.

  4. Great times at Grandma's house! You have to be one of the coolest grandmothers I know! Hugs, Teresa

  5. Oh the fun you seem to have! I love reading about your adventures with your grandchildren. I'm an animal/wildlife lover and would have a blast with this camera. Thank you for sharing a little bit of Grandma Camp at Party in Your PJs!

  6. How fun to see who goes there! That Halloween will surely be one to remember. :) Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  7. So fun. I need to mount a camera near my cat food bowls to see just how else I'm feeding every day. Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty

  8. Love the idea of having a camera take pics of who comes around! The picture of the squirrel is priceless -- especially with the comment line that you gave it!

  9. I bet the kids love this camera. :-) I have been wanting to buy one of these for a couple of years, so I'm off to research it. I was out working this morning and found these two large mounds of dirt and have been wondering what made them. Maybe I can figure it out. Thank you, friend. :-)

  10. oh my gosh, what fun images you're capturing!