Recently, I have been fortunate enough to have been lent a trail cam. It is property of Cornwall Mammal Group, whose committee I sit on. The group kindly lend it out to people to use across the county and for the last couple of the months, the camera has been with me. A trail cam, for those who are unaware, is a motion detection camera which allows you to film wildlife unobtrusively. It is fantastic for capturing wildlife at night or in secluded areas. I have been using it on the banks of the Helford river where I work, leaving it out over night to capture a glimpse of the locals who frequent the area.
Having the camera for an extended period of time has given me the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. For example, for the first few couple of months I popped out a little dog food as bait – an in response I attracted nothing but mice! Hundreds of gorgeous, greedy mice. Whilst I have really enjoyed watching them, I am not sure that 50 videos of them gobbling food was quite what I was after! There were tiny glimpses of other species; a vole or two popped out and even a fox made a very quick appearance; but no one stayed apart from the mice.
I have seen a multitude of wildlife in this area; from owls to buzzards; badgers to pheasants; slow worms to redshanks, and I knew I had to try a different tact to catch one of these guys. A quick visit to the local village shop saw me leaving with meal worms, peanuts and peanut butter, and I decided to try all three in one go to maximise results! And what a mixed bag they produced! As I ran through the videos the following day, I watched them in order from latest recorded to first. Herring gulls, robins, wagtails and goldfinches hopped across the grass, clearing with the mealworms. Morning due steamed up the camera lens so the videos showed nothing but blurry bodies as the darted across the line of sight, grabbing at the free breakfast, identifiable only by the colour palette of each individual. I continued to scroll back through the videos. The next new visitor to the screen was after the peanut butter. Sleek fur, a long tail and 2 triangular ears atop its head. That’s right, the neighbourhood cat had found himself a free meal. This furry feline has actually become a regular extra in my film productions, managing to follow the camera around the 42 acre area I have been filming in, always managing to get his soft round head in shot at some point.
Scrolling back further, I reached the 3am slot. And sure enough, bounding into shot to piggy down as many peanuts as possible, was one of the beautiful badgers I knew lived in the area. He made many appearances over and over, totally oblivious to what must have been an extremely obvious camera, he came right up to the lens so that I could see the individual hairs across his back. After moving the camera to other places and sticking with the whole peanuts, the badger has become the star of the show, turning up every single night. I have been attempting to studying the videos to check whether this is one badger or several different animals; there are multiple sett entrances across the site but many look unused. I am also after a longer shot of that fox. I’ve heard that eggs are very attractive to the canines, so watch this space!
If you would like to see any of the videos, I upload them on my instagram account: @alexandracfpearce