Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Exploring your garden at night

Georgia Locock is an inspiring young conservationist who has been working tirelessly on conservation topics close to her heart and encouraging a younger generation to take to arms. She recently completed an almost 200 mile walk during which she raised £3000 for BTO’s research on her favourite bird, the Swift.

There is no other way that I can describe collecting a trail camera the morning after it’s been set up overnight other than the feeling of excitement you get as a child on Christmas morning. I still get this exact feeling. The first time I set my trail camera up was in my back garden. From a young age, my garden was always a place that inspired my interest in natural history. As I grew older, so did my interest, and I was forever longing to learn more about how every crevice and hole in the garden was being used and by what. For many years, I remember Hedgehogs returning. It was either the odd one scuttling around during the day or just before I went to bed when the backdoor sensor light was set off by one mooching in the grass. But, as a budding young naturalist, I needed to know more about what these nocturnal animals were up to when the lights when out and I went to bed.

A fox in the garden was a complete surprise.

This was until the day I got a trail camera. The motion sensor camera would give me an insight into the wildlife that was visiting my garden when I wasn’t there. This included the night time visitors and what was visiting the bird feeders during the day whilst I was at school, it was very exciting. On the first occasion, I remember the camera loaded around ten, 30 second clips and images of three spiky visitors throughout the night. They all visited and left the garden at different times and in different directions. The joy and excitement of this insight was hard to get my head around! My newfound love for trail cameras was established and nothing in my garden was to go unseen or undiscovered again!

My trail camera experiences have created some of my best wildlife recording moments. On some occasions, I also recorded species that I had no idea were visiting. For example, although they’re common in some gardens, I had the surprise of capturing a Red Fox! Beyond the boundaries of my garden, I’ve also had the privilege of capturing my favourite mammal, the Badger. I’ve had many moments of getting quick glimpses of watching these timid mammals whilst watching setts. But, with the use of my trail camera, I discovered a whole new insight into their lives. This included bundles of personality and in various clips I recorded all sorts of behaviour: from cubs and adults playing to adults grooming each other in groups of three and four. Other species that I have filmed with my trail camera have included Mink, Roe and Fallow Deer and an Otter.

Discovering more about Badger's behaviour with trail cams.

The benefits of using technology to record wildlife in this way is incredible. Every time I have spoken in schools or to groups of young children about wildlife, as soon as I play a trail camera clip their eyes light up and beams of interest for these wild creatures radiate - as did mine when I first watched a night’s trail camera footage.

Georgia Locock
Young conservationist and blogger

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