Most mammals which use our garden are nocturnal and hard to see. We have bats flying through regularly but there is little prospect of me photographing those. Badgers frequently pass through our woodland but cannot get into the main garden because of a small but badger-proof wall dividing the two. Most badgers are present in the early hours of the morning. Using a night vision camera and a few peanuts, I found one was visiting our woodland at about 11pm, providing a photo opportunity.
In recent years, the badgers have decided to come through the front metal railings and into the back garden. I liked the idea of having badgers in our biodiversity garden - at first. My CAMpark T45 trail camera gave me the chance to see how they were getting in and, when in, what they were up to. The following are stills from AVI movie clips. They are presented not as examples of good photos but in order to tell the story.
The badgers started digging holes all over the lawn looking for leatherjackets (the larvae of the Crane fly or Daddy longlegs fly). They also trashed our bird-proof strawberry cage to get the strawberries themselves. The problems seemed to have been exacerbated in very dry weather when the badgers' favoured food, earthworms, are forced deep underground and became inaccessible to the badgers. The garden had not been frequented by badgers for many years. It would have to stop again now! They would have to make do with the woodland thoroughfare which seemed the more appropriate habitat for them. At least, that was the idea!
Urban Red foxes are common in Britain's towns but I am pleased to say we have 'proper' country foxes, living by their wits, hunting birds and mammals and gathering nuts and berries.
Small mammals, essentially rodents in our garden, underpin the food webs that support carnivorous mammals and birds of prey. Foxes are vital to control rabbits and rats in our garden. At one time, young rabbits were regularly finding their way into our rear garden from a nearby area of parkland. Rabbits seemed to develop a special taste for newly purchased garden plants, the higher the price tag, the tastier the plant.
Grey squirrels can be a delight and a thorough nuisance. Of course we would love still to have the native Red squirrel in our area but the Grey squirrel, introduced from North America, led to the demise of the Red squirrels throughout most of Britain, partly through competition for food and territory, partly by carrying and transmitting parapoxvirus which Grey squirrels resist but the Red squirrels do not.