Just a few years ago domestic CCTV wasn’t something that everyone had access to. The cost of CCTV devices has come down a lot, which has resulted in an increase in sales of standalone items like video doorbells or car dashcams. This means that a lot more of us now has access to video and/or audio recording for our everyday lives. One unexpected benefit of this is that we’re seeing much more of the native fauna (and pet) activity that previously had gone unnoticed.
In the United States, this has created a problem in areas where bears live alongside humans. Before everyone had cameras on their homes, bears could quite happily wander along the street or amble through back gardens unnoticed, but now people are more aware of this activity fear has set in. Wildlife rangers are getting more calls about “problem bears” that aren’t actually doing anything dangerous apart from having a nose round and perhaps rooting through a bin. The issue is that residents don’t understand that this natural behaviour doesn’t actually pose a threat to them, but are instead fearful of becoming the victim of a (rare) bear attack.
In the UK, we don’t have any large predators like bears, so there’s less of a fear factor involved in wildlife watching. Instead, people are fascinated to watch fox cubs playing, badgers patrolling the edge of their territory or birds that aren’t often seen visiting the feeder. There are even live feeds and social media pages dedicated to particularly active gardens (our favourite is Mr Lumpy, the badger, and his friends, including other badgers, foxes, squirrels, hedgehogs and more). If you have a lot of wildlife activity in your garden you could even get some fans by posting your video clips, or setting up a live feed for wildlife watchers all over the world.
It’s technically easy to set up cameras to watch wildlife, the trick is knowing where most of the activity takes place and identifying the entry and exit points your visitors use. If you already have CCTV cameras covering the rear of your property then you can get a good idea from watching that footage. If not, purchase a video doorbell or a similar product and set it up in various locations around your garden to see what you capture. You can encourage wildlife to visit certain areas by putting food out, but be careful not to attract rodent activity that could cause a problem in your home. Always clear up any leftover food during the day, and ideally keep it off the ground, but do ensure that your intended targets can still reach it.
A lot of UK wildlife is nocturnal or crepuscular (active in lower light), so in order to get to best footage you’ll need a CCTV camera capable of recording in low light. If you’re mainly interested in bird activity you’ll be filming during daylight hours so you don’t need to worry about light levels. If you want to record both, you could opt for two (or more) different cameras for each purpose.
Most video doorbells only activate the recording facility when movement is detected, so you will need to ensure that the range of the sensor will pick up animal activity – if the camera is too high up it may not trigger the recording and you’ll miss out, but too low and you may find the view is very restricted. Getting the exact position could take a few days of reviewing the footage and adjusting the camera height or location to capture the majority of the action.
If you’re interested in observing the nocturnal wildlife activity around your home you can purchase off-the-shelf CCTV products to do the job, or contact us to incorporate an extra set of cameras into your existing system. We’ll be able to advise the best cameras for this type of recording because although we’re primarily concerned with recording criminal activity, we also know which products are the best for recording in low light.