Who’s been snuffling at my camera?

Charlotte Varela

When my boyfriend, Matt, and I set our camera trap it seemed like a good idea to leave it somewhere as inaccessible as possible.

Now, a miserable spell of rain meant the high bank we scaled a week earlier was even thornier and ten times muddier than before.

After almost losing a welly we made it to the top and, thank God, the camera was still in one piece. But only just. There were scratches on the case and muddy smudges on the lens – someone had been having a good old sniff at this strange new feature in its territory.

I practically danced on the spot as Matthew carefully unwound the camera strap from the tree.

“Shall we check that it’s worked?” he asked. Yes, let’s check that it’s worked and review the footage RIGHT NOW.

I couldn’t contain my excitement. There were 11 files and I was desperate to know what had investigated the camera.

A moth had triggered the first video, a waving tree branch the second, but what had set off the third? Nothing happened for a few seconds, then we heard the snuffling.

Charlotte Varela

The top of a wiry head appeared, followed by wild whiskers and a mucky snout; it was a beautiful badger. It hoisted itself up onto its hind legs and sniffed the camera before trying to climb on top and prise it open with those impressive front claws.

Badger feet are broad and powerful: around 4.5cm across for a female, or sow, and up to 6.5cm across for a male, or boar. Who’d have thought a trail camera from the middle aisle of a popular supermarket would be able to withstand that kind of battering?The badger bumbled off and didn’t treat us to anymore sightings.

The remaining videos featured rain, more wind-blown branches, a cat and a woodpigeon, or ‘big pidge’, as one of my friends has fondly named them. But the joy of camera-trapping is experimenting with new locations. There are plenty more well-worn mammal trails back down the bank, on either side of the overgrown boardwalk, where deer prints pick their way delicately through the bog.

I think this will be our next spot, for the sake of my wellies if nothing else.