Unique wildlife behaviour
Unique wildlife behaviour and the filming thereof can take many forms. As a wildlife cameraman it is always exciting to be presented with the challenge of filming something a bit different. Okay, wouldn’t be all love to head off and film snow leopards; they’re fantastic animals. Or how about tigers in Siberia? Or what about water voles just a few miles down the road, where trains hurtle past and you can hear the dulcet moan of the M4 motorway. Take your pick; no pressure. The truth is that given the choice there isn’t a wildlife cameraman that would choose the voles. But I would argue that it is just as much a challenge as the other two, particularly if you are trying to film something more that just voles munching on an apple or reed stem.
The picture above is a still frame from something I filmed last year. It’s a young water vole in the act of defecating. Whoopee! That’s exciting you might think. The chances are that anyone who has ever seen a water vole might have seen it doing this. There’s also every chance that they didn’t realise it. We’re not talking about buffalo sized poo here. The individual bits of water vole faeces measure a few millimetres. They don’t make much impact when they hit the ground. However, during the breeding season they do take on some significance. The breeding females defecate in latrine areas. Sometimes this is just an area of the bank; sometimes it’s a floating log. Often they will mark a territory, or the border of a territory.
For a wildlife cameraman having an area of interest that an animal returns to is a huge bonus. Latrines are one such area. The breeding females, after defecating, will tread in their own faeces. How often they do this and for how long I have no idea. I have never seen this happen. I know people who survey voles who have never seen this happen. The important thing is, it does happen, and it is one of my jobs to film it. Now, call me weird, many do, but I find that challenge quite exciting. In reality it means sitting on the bank of a ditch for hours on end. It will be a waiting game. Something might happen; something might not. I’ll keep you posted.
Habitat under threat This links to a previous post about the threats to water vole habitat on the Gwent Levels.