Saturday, June 28, 2008

As the evenings have become so long at this time of year, I have found that I am not really staying in the wood into the night. At most now I stay until dusk. As such I have been missing the shift change-over that occurs as dusk fades into true night.
Last night, it was an interesting badger watch, where I witnessed the cubs leave the sett area for the first time. I have noticed the badgers are slightly later in their emergence now just by 15 minutes or so which has surprised me as I thought that the equinox may have been a trigger, but we are little more than a week after that event. Possibly it could be the moon phase. Either way, all these events I should perhaps record at each watch. Anyway, back to the cubs; they are certainly more adventurous and even 'grown-up' in their actions, although one still appears very immature and I wonder if this one
is at more risk of not surviving. The others, however, are more confident and less playful and last night after their emergence at 20.17hrs along with several adults, how many I'm not sure as they were in and out all the time but I think I counted up to 9 including the cubs. After a brief scratch and sniff, they all filed south down the dry stream bed, looking like a line of mongeese, mongooses, mongi (??). Thinking the show was over for the night I started packing up and leaving when 3 of the cubs filed back onto the sett. So, they are growing up it appears but still gravitate back to that area of safety. It was also interesting from the fact that I moved from one area to another without disturbing them and managed to exit the area while the cubs were feeding.
By now it was fully dark in the wood and I investigated a call I have not heard before. It was a bit of a 2-tone screech and after a while realised it was immature tawny owls repeatedly calling. They were occasionally answered by the adult female but only faintly. I mimicked the male call and brought them in closer and got occasional glimpses of them. The calling was incessant and although I felt that they were very, very close by now as is often the way with tawnies, you can never find them. I went back to the van and grabbed a torch and after some searching and tripping over branches and brambles located one of the young perched on a branch 12m away. It was great to see the head weaving and circling to get a better view that owls do as the light hit it. Apart from that it was not concerned at all and gave fantastic views. The tawny owl is quite easily our most numerous owl but due to it's very nocturnal habits and the fact that it is normally in deep woodland it is rarely seen only heard, so it was fantastic to view one as well as know that they have successfully bred.
Another interesting sight last night was a female glow worm standing out like a tiny torch in the low undergrowth next to the main ride coming out of the wood. Using the light from my mobile phone I could make out that the glowing body of the female also had a smaller male on top of her! These are again increasingly rare creatures to see and I have never seen a mating pair before so more good news.
Therefore, I am actually looking forward to the nights getting a little longer as it means that I will be more often in the woodland during the early night and hopefully experience a few more spectacular and rarely seen creatures.
A nice treat was that there was no disturbance from dogs either, phew!

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