How do I go about identifying something when I don't know if it is human or animal or something else entirely? (unknown moving light in camera trap video)

I saw something odd on my camera trap footage and it doesn’t appear to be animal, fungus, plant, or any natural phenomenon, nor is it ordinary glare or dirt on the lens (it moves) I don’t even know where the correct place to ask about this is, so sorry if I am posting in the wrong place.

Specifically does asking about this count as an ID request, which is off topic for the forum and belongs on inaturalist.org, or a question about the technology I am using to observe nature, which I think would belong on the forum under “nature talk”?

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You’re more than welcome to post it and ID it simply as “Life”. People might have ideas. Or people might think there isn’t anything at all and vote “No evidence of organism”, so make sure to be specific about what you’re posting for. I’d say you’re not violating any forum rules, especially if you’re not referring to an existing observation. :)

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I guess my confusion is over whether to post it here as a presumed camera error/strange human behavior in the outdoors, or on inaturalist.org as a presumed organism

I feel like I have ruled out every possibility I can think of except for a remote controlled infrared laser, but I do not think anyone would have such a thing in the woods at night

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I think that is a great question, and it sounds a very interesting observation too! wouldn’t mind having a look if you want to add the link to it here:)

And this seems to be exactly the right sort of question for this forum, from what I’ve read over the last two years. ie it is about how to use iNat, you are not asking here for help to identify the organism.It is that last thing that belongs in inaturalist.org itself.

And even if it does turn out to be “artefact”, ie not a live movement at all, I am sure it won’t be the first time something inanimate has been mistaken for a live organism. I think I posted a picture once of something I thought might be a seed or an insect egg, and the most likely suggestion I got was that it was a tiny stone.

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I put all 2 minutes of my trail cam footage of this on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKrcY1qAZek, it is the spot of light moving around on the right side of the video

note the changes in the timestamp, the end of the video is 3 hours later than the start

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If you’re asking whether or not you should post it, this seems the appropriate place to discuss that.

Really? Maybe not initially but that seems to be the end goal. But we can go on and on about forum philosophy and now that we’re already here I suppose can give my thoughts on the video.

I haven’t spent much time looking at trail cam footage but the movement seems weird to me. And it doesn’t change size or shape at all. Is it behind the trees or not?

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This looks to me like a very small insect close to the lens. It’s never in focus, and it appears to move in front of the trees rather than behind them.

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I meant, the link to the iNat observation your YT link will be in, where i could see any suggested IDs and add any input I had. You could identify it as Life, and give your reason (and that you are not entirely sure its life, if that is the case); and as another poster said above, if people disagree they can say so, with their reasons.

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I agree with psweet. The movement is what I would expect to see from a flying insect, maybe Hymenoptera or Hemiptera. I would post it as Arthropoda though.

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This is a web spider. The movement is up and down the web or its anchors. They are usually active during the night.

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Agreed. It looks like a spider to me.

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I thought from your comment and watching the beginning of the video, that it could be a spider doing nocturnal web maintenance, which would explain it staying in one plane.

The area it roams over on the right after about 1:02 minutes in (1:50 am) seems too large to be a single web though…especially, if the one on the left at about 2:02 minutes in (5:11 am) is the same UFO (unidentified filmed object).

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It is always on the right, the light on the left at 5:11 AM is a flying squirrels eyes

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Since this discussion is turning into what kind of organism this is should I delete this post? I know this is not the place to try to ID organisms

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I ddid not make an observation yet, I posted this to figure out if this was something that should be put in an observation or not

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In front of the trees

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Welcome to the Forum, @laviafrons !

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Yes, post it as an observation.

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I’m glad you started this thread–it was fascinating to read and to look at the video. At least your observation turned out to be animal. I’ve posted several observations over the years of an orange “growth” on trees that I labeled as Fungi. Recently, someone suggested that it is actually a foam sprayed on the tree to prevent further rot. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/58455307 I won’t post anymore observations of that “fungus” when I see it again, but what do I do with the ID of the ones already posted? It’s not “Life” so there isn’t an appropriate ID, but it seems a shame to delete it since others may make the same mistake I made and might learn from my observation.

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That was my thought as well.

The video is labeled as “unknown IR source” but it looks like it’s picking up eyeshine in addition to IR sources, so an eye reflection from an insect close to the camera would fit.

The temperature range is warm enough that some insects would be active at night.

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