Small British Mammals.
I have always believed that the chances of photographing even a small range of British mammals, in other than captive conditions, would never prove to be cost effective in terms of time and effort. I have twice proved myself wrong and on both occasions I was intent on photographing something entirely different. The first time was whilst waiting for an Osprey to fly in and the second time was when photographing Barn Owls.
The second time was more manageable as it was much closer to home. I was lucky enough to know of a site where a pair of Barn Owls could be seen flying at any time from 1-00pm onwards. There was no consistency to their timing nor frequency of flight. The only answer was to hunker down and be prepared to see what, if anything, the day would bring. The site was adjacent to a farm and sometimes their prey was a full grown rat and at other times a succession of voles and mice of various sizes. If the first catch of the day was a rat then that was the only fly-by for that particular owl for the day. If the catch was an immature vole or mouse then digesting time seemed to be about one and a half to two hours, when another flight would take place. This led to a lot of time waiting for the next flight with precious little to do in the meantime.
The place I had chosen as a hidey-hole was frequented by a friendly Robin and my guilty conscience at wolfing down my lunchtime sandwiches in front of him eventually led me to share some with him. There was a well vegetated bank behind me and I took to placing tidbits on it in anticipation of his joining me. One day I noticed that a Bank Vole had beaten him to it so I increased the menu to include a range of bird seed mix. Over the ensuing days I was treated to a succession of Mammals such as I had never really expected to come within range. They got used to the idea that it was open pantry time at much the same time that they accepted a heavily camouflaged me as a natural part of the landscape. My total “bag” included common rat, bank vole, field vole, wood mouse, yellow collared mouse, shrew and an assortment of hedgerow birds that grew in confidence as the days went by.
Young Bank Voles
Adult Bank Vole
Field or Short Tailed Vole
Yellow Collared Mouse