As regular reader(s) of this blog might appreciate, I've been using trail cameras to record videos of wild animals for some time now - be those wild animals be little owls
or tawny owls
or even barn owls
or roe deer
or badgers (and badger cubs and foxes and fox cubs and muntjac deer)!
or hedgehogs (and woodmice)
or even kestrels
or how about red-legged partridge?
And I've had some success, it has to be said.
But that (dare I say) came thanks to a lot of what people call "fieldcraft" from me, rather than the superb technology of trail cameras - in fact many times I thought I've got good footage DESPITE the trail camera, not because of it.
Not many (no-one?) apart from me has filmed breeding kestrels and little owls on a trail camera throughout the season.
And during those seasons, it became acutely obvious to me, watching the birds and my trail cameras from afar (100M or so away), that whilst the birds were performing well for me and my Bushnell trail cameras... the cameras themselves weren't at all - I was missing HOURS of footage as the cameras just wouldn't trigger.
And even when they did trigger at night - the footage was barely watchable (see barn owl clip above).
I also became painfully aware at the time (we're talking between 5 and 10 years ago now) that fellow, let's say "wildlife enthusiasts"... were "reviewing" (promoting) Bushnell trail cameras, after they were seduced (for want of a better word) by Bushnell, with freebies.
The problems with Bushnell were numerous and I've almost certainly gone into them at length before on this blog, but in a nutshell...
a) The trigger speed was SILLY slow. OK for slow moving (American!) beasts like Moose etc. Not great for smaller, faster things generally.
b) The trigger didn't even fire, many many times.
c) The night footage was almost unuseable
d) The power supply (batteries) was unstable.
e) Last but certainly not least... the design was incredibly user unfriendly (for loads of reasons which I won't bore you with here, again).
I still own two old Bushnell trail cameras (because they were expensive and I don't want to throw them away) and as you know, I've still been using them. With limited success.
But now, I also own a Browning Special Ops Advantage trail camera, bought from "Nature spy" in North Wales, a few days ago.
Unfortunately the first camera I bought was a dud (screen didn't work and the camera had what I call "runaway flu" (took videos constantly -that is to say the PIR sensor was constantly triggering even in a cool cupboard) but the good peeps at Nature Spy sent me another yesterday, whilst I was at Twickenham with my eldest boy watching the rugby... and I have to say... compared to my old Bushnells - it's like chalk and cheese.
Sure, I've only used it once in anger so far (last night). But right now, I'm VERY impressed.
a) The trigger speed I think is about 10X faster than my Bushnells. Maybe 0.5 secs instead of 5! Makes a WORLD of difference.
b) The trigger seemed to fire every time. Although it maaay be too sensitive. Time will tell.
c) The night footage was SUPERB. And the day footage too was SO much better than the Bushnell.
d) The power supply (batteries) so far has been stable AND well designed.
e) Last but certainly not least... the design was incredibly user FRIENDLY (So much better than Bushnell).
A video of our hog in our side passage can be seen below (taken with TBR 26 - the Browning camera).
Now compare that to a similar video taken by an old Bushnell (search for "teebeearr" in YouTube to see my channel).
Chalk and cheese like I say.
Again, I know... I've only tested this Browning trail camera once so far... and still remain concerned about the trigger being too sensitive perhaps. I think it maaaay be triggered by moving grass or leaves etc... but again. So far I'm so much more impressed with Browning than Bushnell.
Another example, from where I'm sitting, of a company thinking they are the only players on the field... resting on their laurels and being overtaken by hungrier newcomers.
Well done Browning.
I think you have a convert in me.