It’s a year since I bought a trail camera. It senses movement or heat and triggers still and video recording. It’s a robust plastic affair, designed to be placed on a stick or strapped to a tree with a belt. It was the price which triggered me to buy it. Finding one at a significant discount meant my love of a bargain was fully exploited. I had high hopes of using it during lockdown. All I had to do was find somewhere safe to leave it and preferably somewhere with Badgers or Foxes.
That proved to be a problem. Where have all the Badgers gone? And where is the public access land to see them? It’s been in its box for a year, occasionally reminding me of my impulsivity and Government policy to murder Badgers.
Then, I had a stroke of luck. I bumped into a friend of mine who owns a few acres and learned that she has a Badger sett in her woodland. I’m walking the Badgers’ path through the woodland. It’s strewn with Lesser Celandine, with its bright, early yellow flowers, and edged with delicious Bear’s Garlic and poisonous Dog’s Mercury with a few cheeky stems of Goosegrass making an appearance.
I’m pleased to identify Dog’s Mercury, Mercurialis perennis. It has methylamine and trimethylamine which make it poisonous. I want to come back and identify the male and female plants and try some photographs more beautiful than a phone camera snap, but here we are:
Can you imagine my excitement at setting up the trail camera outside a real live Badger sett? I experimented with the settings and left it. After 24 hours, here’s what it had captured:
At 21:33 a huge dog Fox came past the sett:
At 22:10 a Wood Mouse is creeping through the inky blackness:
Yes, I know, it’s small isn’t it. It’s near the centre of the image, with the tapetum at the back of its eyes glowing with the infra-red light from the invisible camera. [click to enlarge]
At 10:54 is when my very first Badger appeared:
It was back a 6:21, as pre-dawn light shone dimly through the wood. My heart was racing as I checked out the images. Badgers!
At 17:41 a Roe Deer came past, too fast to capture its head:
Not bad for images from a single place on a single day. Now all I have to do it get some Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries to last the course and work out why it didn’t record any video even though I’d placed the camera into ‘hybrid’ mode.
I’ve also explored further and found newer, fresher entrances to the sett. Isn’t this the most beautiful, pristine entrance?
Their nightly routine clearly involves following the same desire line, a track over this ancient tree root:
Their path has been brushed clean as if with a Badger-hair shaving bush; such casual cruelty for needless utility. Then it’s time for me to retreat back through the stinking Bear’s Garlic and dream of a landscape where Brown Bears haven’t all been killed and could emerge in spring to enjoy Bear’s Garlic in this wonderful place.
Will people like me come after, and wander through this landscape, and wish there were still Badgers here to tread these paths?