Wood mice (otherwise known as field mice and a whole bunch of other names), with their larger eyes and ears and brown and white colouring are much cuter than house mice and won’t eat your shoes or electric wiring. They live in forests and fields, rather than under your floorboards or the chewed up remains of your expensive new photo vest in the garage. Ahem.
I’ve been targeting badgers and deer in my local woods for a while now and have been trialling a new camera trap (infra-red trigger) on account of the existing TrailMaster simply not triggering when animals pass through the beam. I also installed a Bushnell trail camera to survey the scene and found that there were at least two wood mice in the area. Having drawn a blank with the larger mammals so far, I decided I’d try the mice and baited one of their holes with a hazelnut. If I’d used almost anything else, the birds would have nicked off with the food before the nocturnal mice emerged. The infra-red trip beam was just in front of the entrance.
The camera I use for this is my trusty (and bomb-proof) Nikon D3. The poor thing has spent months in various forests! For this shot, I used a Nikon 105mm macro lens so I could get in nice and close.
Some people say camera traps are cheating. Frankly, they can bugger off! I do plenty of sitting round in the cold and wet for hours and hours in hides or forests and sometimes I like to try to tame the technology of an automated system. Also, I simply don’t have time to sit around at 2 in the morning waiting for a mammal to pass by. Or not, as the case usually is. It’s also much, much harder than you’d think at first as it requires a knowledge of the biology of the target animal, field-craft, camera settings and all the technical gubbins that goes with setting up a camera trap to trigger a camera and flash system. Not to mention waterproofing everything and making sure the gear’s not too conspicuous. Simply powering the camera trap for several days using cobbled-together batteries is a Heath Robinson affair in itself.
Here’s an iPhone snap of the gear set-up. Excuse the mess! I knew the mice wouldn’t care.
D3 on a gorillapod (centre), infra-red trap set across mouse hole (top right), remote flash (bottom left), Bushnell trail cam above D3