|Posted by Mike Warburton Photography on July 19, 2013 at 1:40 PM|
For many years I have tried and failed to photograph Badgers.Most of the shots you see in magazines and on the net etc are of Badgers that have been lit by artificial means such as off camera flashguns.I could have easily set this up on one of the many setts I know of but I specifically wanted shots of them in natural light.I have no problem on using flash on Wildlife and often use it on Birds such as Pied Flycatchers in the dark woods but still wanted Badgers in as natural light as possible.
Being largely nocturnal and mainly living in woodland this was going to be some challenge and all in all it has taken about 10 years and 8 different setts before it all came together the other day.
I had a phone call a few weeks back off my good mate and fellow Wildlife Photographer Andrew.He said that he had just taken a call off a mate that was watching some Badger cubs that evening in the light of day and had found the sett.He went down to meet his mate where he showed him the area and where the Farmer lived.After a quick visit he managed to get permission for us both to set up our gear and have a go at capturing them.The site of a sett that can be photographed in evening light has to be very specific in terms of its location.The sett itself has to be on the very edge of the wood so we can coax the Badgers out into the open with food.It also has to facing,if possible,South West.This means that the sun will set directly on the area of the sett itself so we can make the most of the failing light in the hope of getting shots.This particular sett fits the bill perfectly and it wasnt long before Andrew started getting pics of them.His first visit with the Camera to be exact!
As you can imagine I was chomping at the bit to give them a go and with Summer marching on we wouldnt have that much time left to get them before the nights start drawing in and we would have to use flashguns.My first few visits were pretty unproductive and only when I took the wife with me did we get a decent view of one but sadly no pics.The next time I did manage a very dark pic of one near the sett entrance under the Trees but it was a start so I started thinking of how best to get them out in the open and in turn the available light.
My plan was to bait an old log in front of the sett on the edge of the copse with Peanut Butter and to scatter a small handful of Peanuts into the sett area to get them interested in food as soon as they emerged.This method worked perfectly and as soon as I sat down in the cover opposite I saw a tell tale black and white striped snout taste the air for danger.He came out and started snuffling up the Peanuts and then went to ground.Within a minute he was back out with a few mates that started making their way towards the log.As they neared it I was mumbling to myself "Get on the Log.........get on the log!"
Before long the first one had a taste and he was soon trying to clamber up the end of the log but his mate had other ideas.He moved to where the log was anchored into the ground and cautiously made his way up.By this time I was photographing 2 Badgers on the log instead of just one I was hoping for.Within seconds a larger head appeared slap bang in the middle.....BINGO...3 Badgers in one shot on the very log I would have been happy just having one on.Not long after I also had a nice broadsided shot of one eating the Peanut Butter and filled my card within the hour.
The light still wasnt very good and I was shooting at iso 2000,f 10 at 1/40th sec but was very impressed with how the shots came out.As I said,the Summer is getting on now and we have probably missed the best of them but they have been there for at least five years so its a well established sett.Next May will be when we will start to get the best out of it as we will hopefully have the new cubs exploring the area.I will make a few more visits before the Autumn though in the hope of getting some more pics but am more than satisfied with what I have from that amazing session.
Next blog will be on my annual trip to Snowdonia where I am hoping to do some more landscape work and an offer of use of a Red Squirrel Hide off a local mate that I cannot refuse....watch this space