The suburb to the east of Nottingham where I live is home to various wildlife, including foxes, as with almost any suburban area nowadays. In mid September, something dug a rather large hole under the short front fence at the side of our house. I suspected badger; there were 4 hairs which looked right to my untrained eye, even though I'd never seen a badger in thirty plus years since I moved here, and never expected to. Small pieces of wholemeal bread crust spread with peanut butter put out at dark were gone by next morning, but could have been taken by squirrels or rats, so not diagnostic, though strongly indicative. (Spoiler: no rats, but a Wood Mouse took more than its share!)
Time for a new toy, a trail cam, bought from wildlifeservices.co.uk after much umming and aaahing! Not the cheapest around, but an impressive aftersale service. The camera arrived next day; extremely quick delivery, which took me by surprise - I hadn't charged up my batteries!
A badger appeared just after 3am on the second night of deployment. It came into view again about 12 minutes later, doing a U-turn to explore next door's garden, then again when it left, about 12 minutes after that. Magical! There have been many sightings since, 2 or 3 per week, plus at least two different foxes and too many neighbourhood cats.
Anyway, down to the review, after about ten weeks of use. I decided on a Browning Recon Force Elite HP4, on the basis of an impressive spec, good reviews, availability and the fact that it will run happily on rechargeable batteries. Video quality is superb and the sensitivity of detection meant that it was triggered by a Wood Mouse and a Wren (almost the smallest British bird; I've had a close encounter with a Goldcrest which appreciated the spray from my hosepipe during a dry spell!). My only quibble is that the recorded temperature is too high, e.g. +7C on a night when the temperature was about -4C. Battery life is impressive; using Eneloop Pro, I've only had to recharge once for nearly 400 video recordings, mostly at night, since I've restricted the capture time in order to reduce unwanted recording of the blasted cats! Wildlife seems not to notice the low-glow LEDs, although a fox three days ago appeared to take fright at them, this is the only time this seems to have happened, and it's not absolutely conclusive evidence. Although I've decided on ultra resolution video, fast trigger speed and minimal delay between videos, many other options exist, from rapid fire of 8 photos at 0.3 second intervals to timelapse photos at 1 hour intervals. The camera is extremely versatile.
Is it worth spending the extra £15 to get the no-glow Spec Ops? I'm tempted, as my wife now wants another camera to cover different parts of the garden. Our neighbours have been delighted to see edited highlights of the videos, cut down to meet the 22Mb limit imposed by our ISP. If they ever want advice on a camera of their own I'll have no hesitation in recommending wildlifeservices.co.uk.