Sunday, 15 February 2015

Whats bothering the Badgers?

Its a Sunday so as usual I have been down to my local patch to see whats been happening. It was a rather dull and uninspiring morning. It wasn't exactly wet but felt damp and the low cloud made it feel almost claustrophobic.



Despite the weather it was still an enjoyable jaunt around the river and field. The birds were out in force even if none of the 'specialties' were.
There were no signs of the Teal this week and unusually few Mallard. The riverside trees however, were alive with Blackbird, Tits and Robin.

A single buzzard was observed fleeing across the main meadow out over the fields pursued by three crows swooping and diving upon it.

Moving on to my little patch of land all of the annual flood waters had receded leaving the ground thick with mud and it was evident that Muntjac, Fox and Badger had all used the same path I had. I stopped to retrieve my camera, more of that in a minute and went on to the feeding station.

I am always marvelled by how the birds react to my presence. As soon as I turn on to my patch I am very quickly flanked by a Robin who follows me to the feeding station and is always the first and boldest to feed. Today I could feel and see myself shadowed by a pair of Great Tits and some Blue Tits that all eventually ended up in the Hawthorn tree beside the bird table waiting patiently.

On the way back I caught the glimpse of a vole making its way through the undergrowth. It was a browny colour with a short tail so could possibly be a field vole.

On returning home I turned to analysing the weeks camera trap data. There was the usually mix of birds, wood mice, deer and badger but a number of things stood out.

Firstly was the odd appearance of a Moorhen on shot. The patch is close to the river but the hedgeline is quite some distance and it is quite a risky prospect for such a tasty bird when the track is commonly frequented by the Fox.


Speaking of the fox, it wasn't much in evidence this week but on one of the occasions it was seen carrying prey. It seemed quite big and was possibly a Woodpigeon or a Rabbit. It is interesting to note I have only seen prey carries past the camera when the Fox had young however peak cubbing is usually during March not February or has the mild winter brought things on a little.


Lastly are the Badgers and boy have they been active this week. They can go several days without being seen and when they do its only the occasional individual passing by to forage or get to the edge of their territory. This week however over the 11th and 12th Feb their activity dramatically increased. In this period they activated the camera 11 times. Again they were just passing by but they seemed to be more in a hurry. They seemed to be dashing to and fro. Now of course February and January are the prime cubbing months. Due to delayed implantation it is at this time the sows give birth to their cubs underground. These cubs will not come out for another month and they are a little more grown. Does the activity and speed of these badgers reflect the excitement of the pitter patter of tiny paws in the clan? Who knows?