Welcome to the Big Cats In Britain Wildlife Trigger Camera Blog

Welcome to the Big Cats In Britain Wildlife Trigger Camera Blog

The Big Cats in Britain organisation, (BCIB), predominately searches for evidence of native and non native feline species living in the British Countryside. Part of our research includes the use of wildlife trigger cameras, also known as stealth cams or trail cams . These operate using infra-red technology to take pictures of any animal that passes the camera.

Our members have dozens of these cameras in various locations around the British Isles, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

This blog is dedicated to showing the general public, the animals we have captured on camera. These images are small snapshots of the diversity of animal life that can be found in our countryside.

We hope you enjoy them.......................

All images are copyright of the BCIB, if you wish to use any of these images online or in the media, please contact us first to obtain permission.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Short-Eared Owl on a Car Cam

Although this is not from a trigger cam, it is the result of yet another tool the BCIB members use in their efforts to capture an image of a big cat.

A lot of big cat sightings are made from people's cars, as the cats run across the road in front of them whilst driving. Obviously there is no chance for anybody to stop their cars and whip out a camera, because by the time they have registered what they have seen, the animal has disappeared from sight.

In order to increase their chances of filming a big cat, many BCIB members have rigged up small camcorders in their cars to film the road ahead, whilst visiting big cat locations. Every week, usually on a Sunday night I do just this. With a Sony DCR-SR32 HD Handycam set on "nightshot plus" mode, mounted on the car dashboard with a clamp, I leave at 11 pm to do a 90 minute circuit of the single track B roads through the forests of south Kintyre. Over the years I've filmed deer, foxes, badgers, feral cats, wildcat hybrids, toads, frogs, rabbits, hares, buzzards and tawny owls using this set up. Mostly I manage to get maybe 10-20 seconds of footage of these animals in the car head lights before they run away. Tonight however was a different story. Tonight I managed to get a lovely piece of footage of a species I have never filmed before, a Short-Eared Owl.

I see owls regularly, all of them tawny owls and usually sat on fence posts. They never stay there for long because as soon as you draw near in the car they fly off. Not tonight though. I'd just stopped the car because a wildcat hybrid has crossed in front of me and disappeared into the grass out of sight. As I moved slowly off, about 30 seconds later I saw an animal at the side of the road. Initially I thought it may be a rabbit or even a kitten, (I'd seen a wildcat hybrid with a kitten a mile or so away a few days ago), but as I got closer I could see it was an owl, and not a tawny owl like I usually see, but what I believed was a short-eared owl, (I'm sure the ornithologists out there will correct me if I am wrong). Certainly a new one for me. Interestingly it allowed me to drive right up to it, to about a couple of yards away. After filming it for a minute or so, and realising that it hadn't left the road and flown off, as owls are prone to do whenever I get close to them, I wondered whether it was injured. I live in a place called Campbeltown in Argyll, and we are lucky to have the
Scottish Owl Centre in the town, so my thoughts were, if it was injured I could get it to the experts within 20 minutes. So I got out of the car and slowly approached it. As I crouched down to within a few inches of it, it flew off. Why it didn't move off the road as I approached it in the car I have no idea, but it appeared to be in good health and flew off into the night safe and sound.

I may not have got any footage of the local big cat, but to get within a few inches of a beautiful bird like that, more than makes up for it. All in all a great night.

Shaun Stevens

(BCIB Argyllshire)

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