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We’re going to look at how to setup a wildlife trail camera in your garden. Depending on the reasons why you want to use it may change how you adjust the camera settings and what you want your camera to do. So it’s worth going through a few steps so you can get the best results.
Know what you want to capture.
If your children are interested in nature and wildlife this is a great way for them to get involved in learning about it in your own garden. You may already have installed things in your garden to encourage animal and birds to come and visit but being able to see them in a more close up way especially if they are night visitors you need something like a trail camera that can take pictures or videos with an infrared sensor that will turn on the camera when it detects a heat signature in the range of view.
You may want to set up a camera because you want to check out for these night time visitors because you live in a more open area and you have problems with animals damaging your property or helping themselves to your chickens or even unwanted human visitors trying to help themselves to your property so your setup of the camera might be slightly different and your camera requirements might be different too.
Decide which area you want to capture
It helps to know what area you want to capture so that the infrared camera you purchase can do what you want it to. If you only want to have something basic that your kids can learn to use and is only going to get pictures or videos of something close up then you might not want a wide range option and if it doesn’t have the longest battery life that might not matter to you if it’s only a few yards away in your back garden
If you want more of a security option where you are checking a larger field of view then that is an important feature on your camera, also you may need to go for a camera option that you can view from your phone or laptop so you may have to look outside the range of trail cameras and check more into infrared security cameras.
Look for an area to set up your camera.
If you are going for a trail camera they usually come with a strap and some with a mount so that you can angle the camera easily. You might want to consider fastening the camera to a tree in your garden, on a fence or wall. If you don’t have a suitable place to set it up you might have to use a tripod that you can anchor down in some way or you can also knock in a post that you can attach your camera too. Some more expensive cameras have a laser point so that you know where it’s pointing but if yours doesn’t then you will have to set it up the best you can, test it out and see if it sees what you want it to. If you’re just checking animals that come on the ground you might not want to go too high with the camera so the pictures aren’t too small but if you want more of a security option then you need to set it up high enough to give you a good wide range view of as much of the area as possible.
What you attach your camera too can make a difference to getting lots of pictures with no subject as the weather might move a small tree or a fence that moves in windy weather. You might be better with a tripod or a stake hammered into the ground for a steady base if that is your only choice of securing your camera.
When deciding where to set up your camera you need to make sure that you’re camera won’t be facing towards the sun. This can mean white out pictures and videos. Your camera should be facing north with the light coming from behind. In this way you will get better quality pictures and videos.
Motion sensors can be triggered by the movement of grass so you might want to point it to more clear areas if you find a lot of pictures of nothing.
You will need to decide what output you want from your camera. Most cameras will have one side where you place the batteries and one side which you can adjust the settings and review the pictures and videos taken.
You can just set up for your camera to take photos. The camera will probably have an option of 1,2 or 3 photos when it is triggered by movement.
The video option will probably give you the chance to set up the quality of the video and the time you want the camera to record. Some can record up to 10 minutes if you want it to although that might use up a bit more battery power.
Hybrid – both pictures and video
This hybrid option gives you the chance to do both of the above options. The camera will take a picture or series of pictures then it will start to record for the amount of time that you set. You can usually set the time between the photo and video recording.
You can set the time between the pictures and then the time length that you want it to capture pictures for.
You will need a memory card to store your pictures and videos on. Go for the highest you can afford then it will store a lot of information. Some cameras have normal size memory cards but check it out because some only use micro memory cards. You can format the card within the camera and you’re ready.
Batteries required and length of time it can run for.
Most of these cameras run on batteries that you can buy easily or you can use rechargeable ones to make it a bit cheaper to run long term. It’s worth checking out if you can use additional power packs or solar with your camera. Cameras can run a week or more depending on what your setup is and how active the area is that you are filming.
You need to have your camera waterproof.
If you buy a trail camera most of them are made to be waterproof and will usually have an IP rating, but if you’re camera isn’t a trail camera you might have to create a waterproof box to keep it in. Some people have set up their cameras in a tupperware box with a hole cut out for the lens to get round this problem but the you have to find a way to secure the box in position.
This is a bit of a set it and forget it type of setup but you have to schedule in some maintenance time so that you can keep the information coming in and your camera working.
Switching out batteries
You can check out customer reviews to see how long they run their cameras for before having to switch out the batteries but it will only be a guideline for you to start checking. Make a set time to change the batteries so you never miss a minute.
Downloading memory cards
If you have 2 memory cards you will be able to just switch it straight out and check all the footage when you get home, or do a quick check on the camera if it is easily reached although you risk moving it if it’s in a good position. If you’re in the garden it’s probably easier though and you can flick through to see if you’re getting any hits or need to adjust the camera.
Organising and dating pictures and videos
When you download all your footage make sure you keep it organised on your computer so it’s easily accessible and you have it in date order.
If you’re doing this for security you might have to consider a wireless option so you have to disturb the site less. There are some available that will upload your footage to cloud storage for a monthly fee which you can access from home for remote viewing. These cameras are more expensive though.
Once you’re set up and have started to get footage of your garden you will need to view it all and decide what you want to keep and discard. You can get some great wildlife and bird pictures right from your back garden and you can get your clips together to make up your own wildlife documentary.
This is a great opportunity for your kids or yourself to keep a log of what’s happening in your garden, identifying what you see and if you have any nesting birds or baby critters you can keep track of them growing with continuous clips.
Enjoy learning what your sharing your own back garden with!
Check out this video showing a little bit of time-lapse garden photography.