Highland Diary

Badger ‘selfies’

  • January 31, 2016

Badger selfie-1079

For nearly thirty years we have put out food in the garden each evening for the local Pine Martens. Originally feeding was done to lure them in order to get them in front of a camera but over time it has become as much of a routine as feeding the family pet. In the autumn a couple Badgers appeared and started cashing in on the offer of free peanuts. Unfortunately the badgers keep even more unsocial hours than the martens. Their appearance recorded on the trail camera (put out nightly) was any time between midnight and five am. Spending the wee small hours stretched out on a cold floor with a lens poking through the cat flap in the back door did not really appeal so I decided on a remote camera setup. Earlier in the year I had acquired a Cognisys infrared beam system which comprised of a couple of Range IR triggers which sync with a Stopshot controller to take care of the flash recharge period. I ran into problems with battery life on my Canon flash units.  Left switched to permanent on mode they usually died long before the badgers turned up.  I ended up digging out my ancient Metz hammerhead flash units. These were wired up to cheap 10 amp hour dry lead acid cells which had no problem firing and recycling the flash units for several nights on the trot. It did not take the Badgers long to trash my carefully constructed garden set-up. Any peanuts in out of reach crevices were extracted simply by digging or chewing their way in to reach the prize.  My photographic set was soon a mass of chewed wood and dug up moss. Looking for an alternative location, I discovered that both the badgers and martens would quickly home in on caches of peanuts placed on stumps and logs out in the woodland next to the garden. This offered endless opportunities of different setups and the ability to move on once things start to look tatty. The hit rate was a dozen or so usable pictures out of seventy or eighty frames exposed in a night. The problem with badgers is that they invariably have their noses buried in the trough.