Thursday, 4 June 2015

30 Days Wild: Day 4, Camera-trapping

I'm not sure whether this counts as day three or four, as the big excitement was partly last night (day three) and day four's activity for the children was supposed to be den-building in the garden. However yesterday's blog post being about a fairly low-key nature-inspired travel game earlier in the day, I can't let a blog post go by without sharing the excitement of later that evening, even if Facebook-dwellers have already been subject to my great rejoicing, so...

Yesterday evening I set up my camera trap on the fence at the back of my garden, facing into the strip of woodland that runs adjacent to our home.  I thought it would make a nice wild activity for today, reviewing whatever images might be captured.  I scattered some peanuts below the camera trap, and came indoors to watch Springwatch with Eldest (Middle and Youngest already being in bed).  As Springwatch ended I realised that I had made a rookie mistake putting peanuts out in daylight as the resident squirrels would likely have nabbed them all, so I went out to see if I needed to put more out before it got dark.  As I approached the fence I spooked some woodpigeons in the trees, and they clattered off noisily - my approach really wasn't stealthy in any way!  Not that it mattered, as when I peered through the fence I noticed that the peanuts were indeed depleted in number, thanks in no small part to a female badger who didn't notice me at all, so engrossed was she in her meal!  I turned and frantically gestured to Eldest to come out quietly, and we both spent a significant amount of time just watching, utterly absorbed in the moment.  At one point we made a noise as one of us shifted weight from one leg to another, and she looked up right at both of our faces.  We froze of course - and couldn't believe it when after a couple of very long seconds she then just dipped her head and resumed munching the peanuts.  Eldest had to go indoors at one point to sneeze, and when he came back out he brought my camera - I thought the click of the camera might scare her off, but no - those peanuts had her complete attention!  I just took the one photo though, not wanting to push it.  The camera trap didn't appear to be working, so I was grateful for my DSLR, with the ISO set very high as light was fading fast.

Anyway, Hubby came home from working late and managed to get a good look at our beautiful visitor - and then our lodger came home, also an animal-lover, and she came and watched with me while Hubby took Eldest to bed.  As Lodger and I watched, she spotted a deer moving behind the foliage - possibly a fallow deer although it was hard to gauge size behind all the trees - it could have been the local muntjac. We heard a peacock calling in the distance, adding to the general awesome atmosphere (there is a peacock nearby who at some point escaped from a local collection and has been living wild for some time), and as we continued watching we saw a male badger appear, to have a good root around with the female (not many peanuts left by this point - I don't ever put too many out as it's not a good idea to make wild animals dependant on an artificial food source).  Not long afterwards another female badger appeared!  The first female and male ran over to sniff her over, and they obviously knew her as they then resumed rooting, all together, and stayed that way until it got too dark for us to watch any more.

Actually, it is such a hard thing to blog about as it was just so .................. I honestly don't have the words.  It felt awesome, humbling, perfect.  Eldest says it felt exciting (it was certainly that), and I just felt so privileged to have seen it in the flesh.  I have caught sight of them on camera traps before, but to have them just doing their wild thing on the other side of a fence to me, to be part of that moment - really, words fail.

This morning I dutifully checked the camera trap even though it had appeared to not be working while we were next to it.  I was so pleased to discover that it had indeed caught a little badger footage.  I had set it to run from 9.30pm to 6am this morning, hence it not going off when we were there last night. 

What I was also thrilled to see was some fleeting footage of a muntjac deer (not good enough quality to show here sadly as the early dawn light made for a strangely flickering piece of footage, not at all comfortable to watch) and finally at 5.25am a lovely video clip of a fallow deer who looked to my untrained but hopeful eye as if she might be pregnant.  It is the season for them to be giving birth, so it just could be... how lovely if we captured a fawn on camera!  

That camera trap is going to be deployed every night now for some time to come, but set to come on earlier than 9.30pm!

There's no space left to write here about today's den-building, but I'm hoping to have another go later in the month, as the boys were all quite enthusiastic, if not entirely successful.  Clearly the camera-trapping was the highlight of the last 24 hours, so I hope you'll understand my need to revel in it!  I'm not going to apologise though, even for the long blog-post - it was just so momentous, I'm still thrilled by it all!


  1. Wow, what an awesome experience for you, so lucky to have badgers so close to you! X

    1. Thanks Rachel - awesome really is the word! We saw two of them again last night - it's just so lovely!

  2. Ooh, I feel quite teary, and incredibly envious. What an amazing experience you had. I have never seen a live badger!

    1. Thank you Laura! I do feel very blessed. We had seen badgers before from a viewing centre in Herts, and we knew we had some behind our house, but to see them in real life right next to us was incredible!