The joy of camera trapping
James McConnell – NatureSpy Wildlife Biologist
Camera trapping is much more than just a smart camera strapped to a tree.
Personally, I think it’s almost magical.
It’s a glimpse into a world that is extremely rarely seen; a view of a wild animal behaving completely naturally with no influence from watching humans.
A fox captured at night on a NatureSpy camera trap
The night-time pictures are especially revealing as the infrared flashes are invisible to animals, meaning they don’t know something is watching.
What’s more, they do most of the work for you. They don’t sleep; always watching, waiting, poised and ready to picture whatever crosses their path.
A camera trap poised and ready
I still remember getting my first fox on my first camera trap. A large box of a thing (the camera not the fox), it was very cumbersome to strap up and the images were only 3 megapixels.
It’s astounding how far camera trap technology has come in just 4 years.
Now, we can take HD video and record sound. Cameras are much smaller, more affordable and can be left for far longer in the field.
Getting the camera placement right gives the biggest rewards. It can be the difference between getting zilch, a thousand pictures of rabbits in one night (yes – it can happen), hundreds of pictures of swaying trees and sunbeams, or that perfect shot.
And when that perfect shot or video comes its Elysium. If it was a 4 hour trek to set the camera up, then it’s even better.
One of our favourite fox captures
We’ve had great shots of many British wildlife species over the years.
But it’s not all about that perfect shot – camera traps also inform you what is living in an area. This means the unexpected can turn up, and that is just as exciting.
A brown hare in a forest
It’s extremely difficult to predict what you will capture. Some of our favourite ‘unpredictables’ have been woodcock, stoat and brown hare.
And NatureSpy are hoping to capture a very rare animal – the pine marten – in a project we’re currently running in Yorkshire.
We’re also now using our camera traps to educate children and adults, bring communities together and improve and protect environments.
It’s an exciting time to be camera trapping.
You can see all of our best shots on our ‘Species Spied…‘ pages