Dormice filming in the dark
Dormice filming in the dark. Filming in the dark comes with its own set of problems. When I learned we were going to try filming dormice around their nest boxes I thought we were onto a loser from the start. After all, we only had a couple of hours in which to do it.
The photo doesn’t help much, does it. But it does make me laugh. With the best will in the world it is quite difficult to sort out a pile of infra lights and three of four camera rigs in the dark. Especially when you’re trying to be quiet so as not to disturb the dormice.
Dormice are protected mammals. We were filming there under licence and with appropriate personnel. Autumn was well advanced, and these animals were still feeding to reach the critical hibernation weight. Like many species that hibernate they need enough fuel on board to carry them through to the spring.
The plan for filming dormice in the dark was to set up a number of cameras near a nest box. The nest box had dormice in it, we knew that. One camera was dedicated to Iolo and his reaction as the rodents appeared and set off to feed. Others, including mine, were to record the best possible footage of the dormice. Knowing how quick the little blighters can be I didn’t hold out much hope. Not only that, would they come out at all with us there. If they decided not to come out with us there we would have to back off to allow them to feed, thereby not having any film at all.
The photo above was after the filming when we were able to turn on head torches to taking all of the equipment to bits. While waiting for the mice to appear we could only see what was on the screens of the camera. I had a Sony A7 adapted for infra red.
The remarkable thing was that the mice actually did come out. Unfortunately they shot into the hazel canopy like greased lighting. We did get a few shots, and apparent;y there is a sequence there, but I can’t wait to see how it turns out in the edit. The shot on my camera lasted all of 2 seconds!
From a wildlife cameraman perspective it all seemed, well, a bit mad. Sometimes filming can be like that. You just have to go with it and enjoy it.