IN RECENT weeks a couple of my trail cameras that had been set in remote locations down on the River Devon have revealed some remarkable insights into the behaviour of the creatures that live there.

The use of ‘trail cameras’ or ‘camera traps’ has become an increasingly important research tool in nature study in recent years by providing a convenient means to monitor the occurrence of animals in a particular area.

The concept is delightfully simple – the camera is carefully sited by an animal trail or other likely looking spot and then left in place for several days with it being primed automatically to take a photograph or video when an infra-red sensor detects the changing heat signature of a passing creature.

One of my most fascinating captures was of a kingfisher which had caught an eel. The eel was longer than the kingfisher, and in comparative terms, the battle to subdue it was somewhat akin to a human grappling with an anaconda.

It took the kingfisher about 15 minutes of repeatedly striking the eel against a branch before it was finally able to swallow it.

Another one of my cameras had been monitoring a scent-marking site used by otters. Scent is an important means for otters to mark their territories and communicate with other otters.

As such, they deposit their spraints, or droppings, in prominent places such as on top of rocks or grassy hummocks. After having found such a place to set my camera, it picked-up otters regularly using the site, even during the day.

The cameras have also filmed mink, teal, moorhens, water rails and herons, and have revealed fascinating natural behaviour that is otherwise largely hidden.

I’ve posted videos of a River Devon kingfisher and otter on my YouTube channel, to which Alloa Advertiser readers are most welcome to view. Visit