One of the first challenges we were posed with was to go out and explore the reserve armed with the camera traps and try and capture some interesting footage of the lesser seen or suspected wildlife.
What is a camera trap? A camera trap is simply an “automated digital device that takes video footage whenever an animal triggers an infer-red sensor.” Our stealth cams field of vision extends 15 metres in front with a breadth of 8 metres.
Our initial attempts made us realise that catching a clear shot of a living moving creature was not as simple as it might first appear.
- Siting the camera on boggy ground;
- Siting where people or even swaying grass tripped the sensor ;
- Siting where overhanging branches obscured the shot;
- Camera positioning too low, too high or at the wrong angle also ruined otherwise good opportunities.
After a couple of weeks of frustration we finally realised that ‘to catch a thief you must think like a thief’.
We decided to try and target different species every week after properly researching their habits and preferred food sources.
We began with the largest and most visible mammal within the reserve: Deer. We often saw Fallow Deer browsing in the oak wood to your left as you enter the reserve and distinct deer paths or “desire lines” were easily discernible. We strapped our cameras to trees facing into open copses across deer paths and sure enough we started to get some amazing footage of convoys of deer using these highways and one lovely unexpected gem. A healthy fox, either attracted by the red light of the triggered camera or scenting our presence from days past. It very obligingly sniffs around the camera for almost a minute.
Please see the footage on YouTube:
Fallow Deer: http://youtu.be/hnTYAsnustE
Emboldened by our success we decided to raise the bar and try and film one of the reserves most elusive and nocturnal residents: – Pine Marten.
So we decided that pre-baiting likely sites was the way forward. Emma has put up a Squirrel feeder full of peanuts, above a leaning trunk of tree in the Oak wood and has liberally smeared the area in peanut butter and jam. Kirstin is baiting a prominent tree stump with mackerel by the shore of the loch. A week into these elaborate experiments and we have unfortunately not filmed any Pine Marten yet. However on Mackerel Cam we have a three second clip of a large dog-Otter scent marking and on Peanut Cam we caught a Jay showing interest in the feeder.
Please see some of our results so far on YouTube.
Text and photographs by Kirstin and Emma. More on our wildlife camera obsession to follow.