Cortona's busy night life, captured by a night time wildlife camera, reveals all, even a lone wolf...
I originally thought of getting a wildlife camera to see if I could catch images of the wolves which so many people claimed to have seen in the Cortona hills and valleys but which had always eluded me. Going on walks I’d found some of their droppings (like a dog’s, but with a high concentration of undigested wild boar hairs), but I’d never actually seen or heard one.
At the end of July I finally got my camera and initially placed it by a spring in an olive grove which I knew animals regularly visited, especially in the dry months when there are so few alternative sources of water. I mainly expected to collect many images of wild boar, as their presence is so visible, and in fact the very first night a large group of 12 little ones raced passed it. What I didn’t expect to witness, night after night or around sunset and sunrise, was the regular visit of different foxes, roe deer, badgers, hares (and of course more cinghiali, alone or in groups). In the grove I identified at least three different foxes, two roe deer and a family of three hares. As during the daytime they are mostly elusive and very rarely seen, I was amazed by their abundance and by the frequency of their visits. And I was hugely encouraged by the realisation of how lively our woods are at night and how quietly resilient nature is.
After a couple of weeks I moved the camera to a grove closer to home and placed it in an area where there’s a clear wildlife pathway. Again, I was mostly expecting to find images of wild board (as the fields get regularly dug up) but again I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of largish mammals living on the land around my home: yes, the boar are there (single large males, mothers with little ones of all ages), but in the course of a couple of weeks over the same dry spot traffic included two roe deer, regular transit by a badger and a porcupine, nightly visits by a hunting fox, a totally unexpected (and unidentified) cat on the prowl and finally also my elusive wolf, which was a very exciting find.
A Roe deer
A hunting fox
Boar and family
My elusive wolf
Apart from the delight in getting a wildlife census of my hillside, it’s great to start seeing the nightly patterns followed by different animals and I’m curious to find out how things will change over the seasons. I’ll also get to see what kind of night life goes on around different friends’ houses as most people seeing my images now want to borrow the camera to see what’s going on around their homes.
Mr T, 02/10/2023 10:53:24