Badgering the Badgers

It’s a cold February evening and the Biome team, Rollo, Josh and Sam, are spending the evening in Bristol’s most famous cemetery: Arnos Vale. Whilst this sounds like the climax of an episode of Scooby Doo there are no great danes in sight, the mystery machine has been replaced with a VW polo and the team are hoping to avoid monsters. However Sam and Rollo have set a trap, and as any Scooby Doo fan would tell you this is the only appropriate way to catch a monster in the act. The trap is of course a camera and the ‘monster’ is Britain’s most iconic mammal, the badger.

Once the most famous place to buried in Bristol, today it’s most notable residents are in fact alive. It’s come to the team’s attention that there is badger sett underneath some graves, and the team are pretty desperate to trial a new 360° homemade infrared camera on some non-human subjects. Infrared cameras allow viewers to see the activity of animals at night, without the need for intrusive and disruptive lights. In theory, it’s the perfect way to capture animals at night.

After a late night, the team review the evening’s footage and it’s disappointing. The image quality is good, the infrared lights operated perfectly but aside from a black and white head popping out of a hole the badgers are absent. Chalking this off as a shy group of badgers, animals do of course have different personalities and levels of inquisitiveness, the team was unperturbed.

The team move to large sett in a woodland in Dorset. Armed with the same infrared camera as well as peanuts, Ted and Rollo hike to the sett, place the camera, rig the lighting, and bury the peanuts (hoping to capture natural foraging behaviour) and then disappear. Rollo and Ted are optimistic; badgers have been seen to be very active in the area and the team’s personal unique fragrance has been masked by the spring eruption of wild garlic around the set. All promising signs for a good shoot. But after two nights of filming, the footage is once again disappointing. The peanuts remain very much in the ground. When the footage is reviewed, it appears that multiple badgers take one look at the GoPro Omni 360° Infrared camera and dash off, and enter the sett via one of the multiple entrances. Ted and Rollo are mystified, being a nocturnal animal badgers eyes aren’t good, so they shouldn’t even notice the camera.

Sensing a South West anti 360° camera badger conspiracy, Rollo and Ted head to the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland, hoping that the badgers in Scotland are as friendly as the local Scots. They based themselves in Speyside Wildlife’s magnificent forest hide. Hide’s are great for 360° filming, they allow the team to see directly what’s going on outside without disturbing the wildlife.

The badgers that call this forest home are well documented, with one individual, Bertie, known to climb trees to get food. It is thought that badgers in a sett forage on different food types to avoid intra-group competition and not overexploit the area. The camera is set up, with peanuts around it. As predicted by the Speyside team, the badgers appear on cue at 8PM. Over the next 30 minutes, 8 different individuals arrive but to Ted and Rollo’s absolute horror the badgers spend the evening happily foraging everywhere apart from near the camera itself. Another night of unusable footage!

They begin to hypothesise a reason why the badgers avoid the camera, the surface of the GoPro Omni is reflective which may have caused some disturbance. The following night Rollo and Ted try a different camera, in a well lit area of the hide, the GoPro Entaniya system, which has no shiny surfaces. Once again at exactly 8PM the badgers arrive, with one foraging next to the camera, you’d think they finally had the dream shot! However, the badger was somehow too obliging and came so close that he messed up the tripod removal in post production. Indeed, if you look down you can see the nifty little GorillaPod. So, unfortunately, after all of this, a badger has yet to appear in a Biome production.

Lessons Learned:

-Animals are not actors

-Wildlife is unpredictable

-360° wildlife filming requires immense patience

-Rollo is a bad luck charm

Our best 360° badger shot to date!

You can have your own badger encounter at the Speyside Wild Hide -> https:// www.speysidewildlife.co.uk/mobile/Holidays.aspx?location=evening

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *