Sunday, June 8, 2008

It has been another spectacular and eventful week at Scrag. One of the most important events for me personally was lifting the corrugated iron sheet left in New Meadow in the summer last year. This was placed for reptiles as they like to shelter under sheets like this but for the last 8 months the best I have had is a vole under it. But, lifting it the other day revealed 2 slow worms, a small grass snake and a sloughed grass snake skin (it's yours Mark, I seem to remember you offered money if I ever found one!). This is great news for me and reinforces the whole reason of why I laid the sheet there in the first place. If you encourage wildlife you will invariably get it!
I had a great badger watch with Bob Gray and his party on Tuesday; the wind was initially not good for us, so we moved position mid-watch, something I've not attempted before. Consequently, a 'shaky' badger watch turned into one of the most rewarding I have done with an adult snuffling within 3m of the group and a total of 7 badgers out. The image itself was taken on Thursday evening showing how the cubs are now getting. I am understanding the badgers and their habits more and more. As the year progresses and I do more watches, both with groups and alone, I am increasingly aware of how much disturbance and the type of disturbance I can either get away with or mask in some way. Although, I am very sensitive to their presence, I want to be able to produce great images of them as well as show them to as many groups as possible. This in itself brings in welcome income which guarantees their preservation at Scrag at least.
The barn owls have not disappointed this week either. Thursday, saw the male again quartering the field from 5pm onwards in full sunlight and it flew repeatedly within 10m of me! It was one of those situations again when I was ferrying gear from the hide to the storage shed and the camera was already set-up in place for the badgers! Grrrr! That night as well, as I left the badger area I heard a female and male tawny owl calling to each other. I called the male in, mimicking the hoot, and then heard and almost felt him call back from within several metres of me before he glided past me, obviously checking out the intruder.
The coming week itself has more badgers and hopefully some more barn owls, possibly with camera and long lens this time!

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