Camera Trapping for Pine Martens and more!

Alastair Hughes-Roden

I was co-leading a group of conservation students, carrying out the restoration of a walled garden, in March 2018. The walled garden was being restored, to support the varying amount of fauna at a field centre in Blairgowrie, Scotland. I had brought some camera traps (trail cameras) with us for this trip, 8 in total. The plan was to set up all 8 of the cameras at a local Loch, to try and capture footage of Eurasian Otter (Lutra Lutra), for a lady who thought they were present on her land. The lady led the group around her land, which was a mixture of secondary woodland, small streams and rivers and a loch (Straloch). Having assessed the land for signs of otter, many spraints (see below) were found near both the stream system and the small loch.

Setting up cameras

We decided to put three camera traps out, instead of all eight. There were only 3 spraint sites located, so these were camera trapped and left for a week. It is rare you get footage of illusive otters on camera trap, but I remained optimistic!

So, this left me with five camera traps that were sitting in the back of my car, photographing nothing. After dinner, the rest of the group was enjoying watching pine marten footage from the night vision camera the centre had installed. Meanwhile, I went out with my camera traps. Myself and another keen camera trapper set out and placed two cameras near some logs, which we had been told the pine marten uses frequently. We added a bit of peanut butter, to hopefully lure them in! 

The Apeman H68 camera trap went on the log pile (see picture), as I wanted to test out its capabilities, as I had only purchased this camera the week before. Two Crenova camera traps went out that day to, one on a well-used fallow deer trail and the only on a fallen log. The Ltl Acorn camera (my oldest one) went out, strapped to a tree, close to a feeding station. These were left all week and collected in on the last day. The footage was brilliant! The new Apeman H68 had done me proud and captured footage of pine marten several times each night! It doesn’t fair to well when the subjects get up close and personal with the camera though, as the infrared flash blurred and ‘whited’ out the subject slightly (however, this was down to camera placement & settings). The two Crenovas captured footage of red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), Western Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) trying to crack an egg, numerous bird species and fallow deer (Dama dama) passing through and eating the bird seed/nuts that had been put down for the squirrels. The Ltl Acorn, despite its age and ‘outdated’, low-quality video/camera footage, still stood strong and capture footage of fallow deer, red squirrel and jackdaws. So, we managed to capture footage of quite a few species just by using remote cameras, in well-justified locations.

cameratrap

Unfortunately, no otters were photographed on the three camera traps. Like I stated earlier these species are very hard to camera trap for, due to their nocturnal habits and illusive behaviour.  

The footage can be seen on my twitter page @AlastairHR1

Alastair Hughes-Roden

My name is Alastair Hughes-Roden. My interests are mesopredators and large terrestrial mammals. I am also an avid camera trap user and blog writer. I am currently carrying out numerous studies using camera trapping methods, one of which is for Eurasian Otters, investigating habitat use, in the UK. I have a degree in Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Conservation (BSc Hons) and I’m currently studying a MSc in Wildlife Conservation at the University of Wolverhampton. My hobbies include animal tracking and running the Practical Wildlife Conservation Society, in the West Midlands. Find me on Twitter: @AlastairHR1 or reach out be email (Ah-r21@○hotmail.com).


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