Wildlife in Brittany - France

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Col. Chibani
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Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

Before confiinment was enforced in France, I was able to flee to my family house in Brittany with wife and kids to avoid being crammed in my little home place.
And it's for me the opportunity to use my Christmas gifts for camera traps.

A little bit of history:
For years, my mother was talking about "feeding the fox" on the evening by dropping leftovers somerewhere behind the house, that disappeared during the night.
She claimed she saw and even heard him once (who knows the cry of the fox ?). So we never believed her.
But, one year ago, my brother and I saw a running animal in the garden that was definitively neither a dog nor a cat.
I had bought a cheap chinese infrared camera which I placed in front of the food and on the second night:

ImagePICT0104 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

ImagePICT0105 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

ImagePICT0106 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

A fox it is ! My mother was right - as usual ... :heyhey:

I decided that it was time for something more serious, from a photographic point of view.
I bought an infrared sensor and a remote flash trigger from Camtraptions, a cheap (again) chinese speedlite flash, rigged all this with my Nikon body, and after a few disapointing nights, catching only an ugly cat eating my bait, here's the reward:

ImageDSC_6637_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

And even a marten ("fouine" in french) was a surprising guest on another night:

ImageDSC_6593_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

So, I am "feeding the fox" every night myself now and happily discovering every morning what critters live behing my house !
I will keep you posted of my nicest catches.

PS : for moderators: all of this is performed without going out of my garden. So I am not breaking any law (of my country and of the Forum).

Andyph
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Andyph »

That's really interesting.

Good for you! I really enjoy your posts from France.

FarnboroJohn
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by FarnboroJohn »

Now I'm really jealous: the marten looks like a Beech Marten (also called Stone Marten by some) - I need that!

Also, its not easy comparing a camera trap and a proper flash photo, but to me it looks like you may have two different foxes, the camera trap pictures being a male (I'm going on an apparently broad muzzle and robust appearance, while the colour pix show a more delicately built, narrow muzzled fox.)

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

The Beech Marten was back this night:

ImageDSC_6759_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

Regarding the fox, the infrared pics were taken in october 2019. So it can very well be a different animal.

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

This morning a Piranha ate my bait !

ImageDSC_6791_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

So happy for this rare catch ! :king:

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

More seriously, the Marten came back also this night:

ImageDSC_6809_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

ImageDSC_6811_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

And something I couldn't identify : a large pig or a small elephant ?

ImageDSC_6816 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

To be continued / à suivre ...

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

The Marten again:

ImageDSC_6840_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

In French, "fouineur" is used for "snooping" (pejorative). No wonder why ...

And later on, the fox that was looking for something, but which was surprised by the flash and didn't dare to come closer (heavy crop from corner of original pic):

ImageDSC_6847_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

In order to better get the Marten, I increased the sensitivity of my trap, but the drawback is that it triggered as the fox was too far away.
Room for improvement !
If somebody is interested in technical details of my trap, please say so. I will be happy to share and get any advice to improve my results.

FarnboroJohn
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by FarnboroJohn »

Fox is a vixen and has cubs somewhere, belly is naked and teats are visible. With dark areas (not lighting effects) probably soil brushed off den walls, I'm guessing she has been underground till just before she came to visit you.

I'm really enjoying this!

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

FarnboroJohn wrote:Fox is a vixen and has cubs somewhere, belly is naked and teats are visible. With dark areas (not lighting effects) probably soil brushed off den walls, I'm guessing she has been underground till just before she came to visit you.

I'm really enjoying this!

That's interesting. Thanks John.
Now, I'm hopping to get the cubs.
Maybe I should stop frightening her for a while.

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

The vixen came back this night:

ImageDSC_6900_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

She sadly seems to have some form of skin disease.

FarnboroJohn
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by FarnboroJohn »

Don't think so, my regular dog fox has a similar effect and in exactly the same place. My read on this is that she is moulting into her summer coat. Moult seems to start in at least two places: front of face and shoulders, and work back from each. I can see the same band of short fur contrasting with long winter coat on Big Whitey at the moment: he also has a couple of small bald patches but the skin looks healthy and pink.

Again I can see soil darkening areas of your vixen's coat as if she has only recently come out from underground.

I don't think you have anything to worry about.

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

After almost one month with nothing or so catched in my camera trap, I am lucky again.
The marten seems used to the harmless flash now, and she* is almost posing. She takes her time for diner and I get a dozen of shots every night.
* I say "she" because in French, we say "la fouine" (feminine), even for a male.

An extract (more on my flickr) :

She seems a little bit upset by the sudden light, but she is standing the camera gaze !

ImageDSC_7232_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

Last night I moved my camera closer to the food:

ImageDSC_7287_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

ImageDSC_7277_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

ImageDSC_7294_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

This is not obvious from the photos, but this animal jumps more than it runs.
Not very good quality, but frozen in flight anyway (I should go for a faster setting next time):

ImageDSC_7297_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

FarnboroJohn
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by FarnboroJohn »

Yep. My experience is with Pine Martens but they do seem to bounce along, it seems to me rather in the manner of the cartoon skunk, Pepe le Peu. Great shots, the close-up portraits are brilliant!

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

No news of the vixen or cubs, but the marten is always coming to my restaurant:

ImageDSC_7471_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

And a new little guest !

ImageDSC_7375_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

I am trying a different spot now, for a change.

FarnboroJohn
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by FarnboroJohn »

It's an Apodemus mouse, probably Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus. There are a few close relatives but your animal looks small, delicate and brown whereas Yellow-necked Mouse, the likely alternative, is larger, heavier built and has a more orangey tint to the fur.

Your marten photos continue to be amazing.

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

The new spot being disapointing, I reverted to the original location.
And this time, my little guests came at once:

ImageDSC_7704_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

ImageDSC_7752_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

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AndyXH558
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by AndyXH558 »

dont know how but it looks like my cat Jones suddenly appeared at your house. Loving the pictures thought and looking forward to seeing more.
Start every day with a smile!

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Col. Chibani
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Re: Wildlife in Brittany - France

Post by Col. Chibani »

The Apodemus Sylvaticus is still a regular customer of my open-air restaurant:

ImageDSC_7824_1 by Colonel CHIBANI, sur Flickr

Noticing the ants on the meat, wife wittily remarks that my catches are getting smaller and smaller every day ...
Little she realizes that she could very well become the bait for something bigger !

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