A night camera opens up a whole new world for me, and it was an unexpected gift! During the first year of COVID, in lockdown, a courier came down the drive and Barnet Boy brought in a box which he said was a gift for me. Upon opening the box I was greeted with a night camera which takes photos and videos on a timer setting.
A Night Camera Opens Up A Whole New World
We live half way up a mountain in Umbria, Central Italy. The house is surrounded by olive groves and woodland and we often see wild animals, particularly at dusk. I have often wondered what goes on at night around the house. We lay in bed and can hear the sound of animals calling. Sometimes there is even grunting outside our bedroom window.
During hunting season (three months from October for ungulates – including wild boar and deer) the mountainside is regularly filled with the sound of shotguns.
A Chance To Find Out What Happens At Night
Setting Up The Camera
Getting a night camera was exciting! The only headache was batteries (isn’t it always? Read my blog on the subject). I had to be patient and charge up the eight batteries that were needed to operate the camera.
The menu proved simple to use and I opted for a combination of photo and video. You can have just photos, or just videos of different lengths. I initially went with a photo followed by 10 seconds of video. It is important to familiarize with the settings in the menu and make sure the clock is set correctly. Also, some thought needs to go into the timer switch, what time the camera switches on and switches off.
I did have some technical hitches though as you can see!
Choosing Where To Place The Camera
Meanwhile, I couldn’t decide where the best place would be to put the camera. We had seen signs of animals in various places. I opted for somewhere close to the house where there was a clear trodden path through the grass and under a fig tree. I set the camera up, tied to the fig tree at what I hoped was the right height!
Next morning I couldn’t wait to get out of bed to see what I had got on film. And I was delighted to see a fox, a badger and some porcupines!
Over the next few nights I put the camera in the same place and was rewarded with the nightly procession of the porcupines. They, in particular, seem to have a routine, taking similar paths looking for food. They were also using the back door step (in an unrestored part of the house) as a toilet! Over the next year I tried all sorts of places to see which was best.
Watching The Wildlife In Action
Having the camera at the end of the dog run in the garden allowed me to watch the porcupines digging up and eating my irises (bless). Positioned at the top of some steps I got regular views of foxes going backwards and forwards and the occasional deer. Under the mulberry tree I got to see deer, badgers, pine martens and boar eating the fallen mulberries. Other places produced mixed results. It is surprising how disappointing it is to put the camera out and see nothing on it the next morning!
By far the best place I have found is overlooking the apple tree at the edge of our olive grove. I tie the camera to a large log sitting on a patio table. This is about two metres from the apple tree. Gosh the fun that goes on in that area!
Munching on Apples
I have filmed foxes jumping up into the apple tree to both eat apples and knock them down to the ground for the cubs waiting below. The porcupines visit regularly and I have been rewarded with seeing both them mating (the answer is very carefully by the way) and their babies.
One night a fox just sat in front of the camera gazing at it and in the background a hedgehog ran behind it but stopped to look at the fox and camera before carrying on its way. It was so funny!
Deer graze on the olive trees and the lower leaves of the apple tree. They also like to munch on fallen apples. They also bring their babies with them which is lovely.
A Lot Of Cat Activity
The odd pine marten, hedgehog, rat, mouse and of course a lot of cat activity takes place. One night the cats had caught a poor bull frog and had it jumping around while they chased it. Several times a cat has gone past the camera with a mouse in its mouth. One night I saw the bravest mouse in Umbria running along the edge of the outside wall of the house. I have 16 cats so this is either a feat of bravado or stupidity, I am not sure which!
Fun With Wild Boar
The biggest revelation has been the wild boar, particularly when they are moving around in family groups. Baby boar (piglets or hoglets) are the cutest things imaginable with stripes and long eye lashes. There is a big male boar we see regularly. One night it was pouring with rain and he was rubbing his backside on the bark of the apple tree in obvious bliss! It is also thanks to him that I had to buy a new camera towards the end of last year.
On a few occasions I had tied the camera to the apple tree to film animals as they came towards the tree, through the olive grove. I got some great film of deer, badger and foxes this way. But one night I came a cropper! When I went out to get the camera in the morning I found it at a rakish angle with pieces hanging off. There were obvious grooves from teeth! On film I captured the moment when a wild boar approached from the side and grabbed the camera in its mouth and tried to get it off the tree. There was a lot of grunting and slobbering I have to tell you! No wonder the camera was covered in mud and smelled disgusting.
As you can see, a night camera opens up a whole new world!
Buying A Second Camera
After that episode the camera still worked but it wasn’t as good as it had been. So, I decided to invest in a new one. I bought a better model of the same brand and haven’t regretted it. It gives a much better quality photo and more clarity on the videos. If you are thinking of buying a night camera, my advice would be to buy the best model you can afford that will give you the best images. There are many good brands of night cameras (also known as trail cameras or hunting cameras), I suggest you read reviews to choose the best for you and your proposed use.
I now have two night cameras and double the trouble with deciding where to put them. The old one works better at close quarters so is limited on where it can go. But I think my favorite spot is still by the apple tree as all life passes by there it would appear.
Mind you, having seen all this activity within a few metres of the house, we do look around a lot more when we are out during the day. And when walking we are more aware of what might be watching us from the bushes.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!