Setting a trap… a camera trap

Charlotte Varela

As my feet sank further into the surrounding bog I could barely contain my excitement – a badger footprint stamped among the deer prints.
Badger Footprint

Charlotte Varela

“I think this is the spot,” I said to Matt, my boyfriend.

We’d been talking about investing in a trail camera for years after discovering an area of our local patch almost completely untouched by other walkers, and 30 Days Wild was the perfect excuse.

A battered boardwalk leads the way through an overgrown marsh that fills with damselflies in summer. Towards the end of the boards the trees close in, creating a corridor alive with goldcrests and long-tailed tits during daylight hours and an almost impenetrable gloom come dusk. It feels completely wild.

Badger prints, deer prints and fox scat offer tantalising glimpses into the mammals that live here. We’d tried in vain to spot them, and after some fleeting flashes of cotton-white roe deer rumps we decided to let the camera do the hard work for us. But where was the best place to set it up?

We wanted a spot that was open enough to offer clear views of passing wildlife, but not so exposed that anyone up to no good could spot the camera and steal it.

We decided to move off the boardwalk and scramble up a nearby bank where we’d seen the deer scarper into the undergrowth. Thorns grabbed at my hair and dead branches gave way as my feet slipped on the muddy incline and I snatched at the nearest tree for dear life. We reached the top red-faced and covered in mud, and there lay the badger print. I didn’t need any more convincing about where to set our camera trap.

We chose a tree on a bare track worn into the grass by passing animals, strapping it tight near the base of the trunk and angling it down the trail. We switched it on, danced around in front of the lens to check it was working and then slid our way back down to the boardwalk.

Roe deer footage seems like a given, possibly badger, or even a fox? Hopefully all three. We’ll just have to wait and see…