At the end of May into June I enjoyed a long weekend on a Natural History photography workshop with Colin and Susy Varndell www.colinvarndell.co.uk with my friend, Pat  from Blandford Forum Camera club. There was also a small number of other photographers included in the group from various places in the UK. We stayed for two nights in North Buckham Farm near Beaminster. It was  a lovely place to stay and our hosts were really welcoming including the collie dogs! The farm is set on a hillside overlooking a deep valley. It was also the venue for one of the highlights of the weekend  – Badger watching www.beaminsterbadgers.co.uk

North Buckham Farm
View from North Buckham Farm
Collie dog
Collie dog
Resident cows!
Resident cows!

We spent both of our evenings watching badgers. It was a military operation for us all to set up our equipment ready for an evenings wait. They are of course wild animals and very shy and they would soon disappear at the slightest noise. Colin instructed us on what to do before we went near the hide. On the first evening badger watching we took our tripods down to the hide at four o’clock in the afternoon, twelve people setting up tripods in a hide just big enough for us all was quite a feat! We had to be silent as we approached the hide and we all developed a sign language when we were watching for badgers.

Anyway, we returned at about 7.30pm so we were settled in before any badgers appeared for the evening, Colin baited the front of the hide with peanuts and golden syrup and then we settled in for the wait. We had to wait for at least an hour for our first siting and that was only a quick glimpse they were very wary. Then at around 9pm one brave Badger started feeding. Although not dark by then it was surprising how little light there was even though there was a floodlight on the area it was going to be tricky to take pictures. Colin had already advised us to have the fastest lens and put up the ISO. My Canon 7D doesn’t perform that well over 800 ISO, but to get the pictures I went up to 1600 and then up to 2000 and even some at 4000 ISO. I tried some different lenses but the one I used most was the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens as we were quite close and it performed very well in the conditions.

badger 1
f4 1/60 ISO 2000 EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens AT 70mm – Time taken 21:17
badger 2
f4 1/15 ISO 1600 EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens AT 105mm  –  Time taken 21:08
badger 3
f4 1/20 ISO 2000 EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens AT 70mm – Time taken 21:26
badger4
F4.5 1/6 ISO4000 EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM – Time Taken 21:42
badger6
f4 1/50 ISO 1600 EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens AT 105mm – Time taken 21:20
badger7
f4 1/50 ISO 1600 EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 105mm – Time taken 21:49
badf4 1/15 ISO 1600 EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens AT 105mm  -  Time taken 21:08ger5
f4 1/13 ISO 1600 EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens AT 105mm – Time taken 21:45

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