Monday, July 7, 2008

Never work with children or animals!!!

Friday 27th June I was lucky enough to witness up to 9 badgers interacting and grooming outside the main sett. Then for the 1st time I saw the cubs file south along the dry drainage stream with the other adults. This is the first time I have seen them leave the sett area and is a significant milestone in their development. Within a few minutes 2 of them came back and fed around the sett area as usual. So much for independence!
Saturday 28th June, only 2 badgers emerged, the dominant boar and what appears to be a handsome yearling male, who has been nicknamed 'Prince.' They both came out late and did not wait around for long before leaving the sett area.
Tuesday 1st July - a disappointing Sussex Wildlife Trust watch. A 2 hour wait resulted in 1 adult badger seen faintly in the darkness. Another 30 minutes thankfully resulted in 2 cubs coming from the north and feeding around the sett area. My suspicion grows that the dominant sow 'Honey' has move the cubs to an outlier sett.
Thursday 3rd July - a watch with Steve Bottom from the British Wildlife Centre. This was a cold, wet watch resulting in a 2 hour wait and zero badgers! Where have they gone? I am confident that it is not human or animal disturbance that has led to their disappearance but clearly the group has moved. I have cancelled the SWT watch for the coming Sunday, sadly.
Saturday 5th July - joined by my parents, I warned them that the chance of seeing badgers was slim and to just enjoy the dusk in the woodland. However, within 20 minutes of arriving we had an adult out and scratching. He was followed by 3 or 4 others including 1 cub who fed around the sett. For me this is an enormous relief but still begs the question - where is Honey and the other cubs?
As a result of this turn of events, it has caused me to read and research more widely and it appears that soon after weaning, the sow moves the cubs to another sett for 'a few weeks'. This may be to allow the main sett to be cleaned after the breeding period but in reality it is not truly understood why this occurs.
These events have also caused me to travel more widely in the local area to locate 'outlier setts'. I have found a possible 3 in total as well as several latrine areas and this has given me a better idea of the overall territory of the clan.
In summary, the badger's behaviour has truly concerned me especially as I have come to rely on their behaviour for the SWT badger watches. It will teach me to become complacent I suppose. However, for me personally, the week has fascinated me and deepened my admiration of these dynamic animals I just wish they wouldn't decide to disappear when I have paying customers!

1 comment:

Ali said...

It's interesting to read about the comings and goings of the Scrag Copse badgers and to learn about their behaviour. Although it would be far more convenient if they kept their 'goings' to a minimum!!

Good to catch up generally after a couple of weeks with less time to visit the blog. Hope all is well with you and at Scrag.