Bristol Brown Rats at Brandon Hill Nature Reserve

Bristols Brown Rats.

Photographing Bristols rats might not be the first subject which comes to mind for photographers when wanting to capture wildlife images for their portfolio.

It only really came to the forefront for me, when I was photographing grey squirrels at Brandon Hill Nature Reserve, in the heart of Bristol city center. The park is managed my (AWT) Avon Wildlife Trust and is an amazing location for wildlife big or small.

The subjects I've captured at the site, over the years range from urban foxes, common frogs, toads and tree creepers.

As I was running a photography workshop, I noticed two small brown shapes scuttling around frantically in the corner of my eye. On closer inspection, I could see it was two brown rats. Normally when I see a rat it's feeding on waste food in a street, after dark. I made a mental note that day to head back and photograph these two rodents. The brown rat was originally native to China, Siberia and Japan but now is virtually found worldwide. This is testament to the adaptability of this small mammal.

Image shot on a DSLR with telephoto lens

Fast forward two weeks and I am back in the same location armed with my GoPro, digital camera with wide angle lens and my remote trigger device, ready to attempt to capture these animals ! Oh and a bag of bird seed to entice the rats. I carefully laid out a small trail of seeds which finished right in front of my GoPro. Next I set up my camera to sync with my smart phone which enabled me to use it remotely.

It didn't take long for the hungry rats to make an appearance and start to eat their way right up to the GoPro camera. I spent an hour photographing and filming the two rats in wide angle using my GoPro. Using this camera remotely is great. It's got the added advantage of being small, so you can position it in places a DSL camera would never fit.

Image shot on my GroPro Hero 3 Black

They didn't seemed too bothered by me. The only issue I had, was the amount dogs running around the park, it would spook the rats, and they would disappear off into the scrub. After adding more seed, I switched to my telephoto lens and collected some really nice images framing the rats within the plants and tree branches.

Finally, I used my wide angle lens 16-40mm and my remote trigger device and captured some more pictures. I didn't have my flash unit that afternoon so those pictures looked flat with no shape. It's amazing the difference it makes using a flash on certain wide angle images.

So remember next time you hear a shriek and see people running away from a rat, take a little time to enjoy this often unloved rodent.

if you are interested in photographing these rats at Brandon Hill or any other subject which lives in this rich and diverse location, please get in contact with me.

Also log on to the AWT website and see where you nearest oasis of wildlife is.

The five images above are shot on a DSLR with telephoto lens

Image shot on my GroPro Hero 3 Black