Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday 17th July
Another group of 4 for Sussex Wildlife Trust and it was good to see that Stephanie, David and Derek had all been on one or more of my photography workshops and courses. Claire had been on the first badger watch I did for the Trust in April and had come back for more. I made it clear as I always do that there is no guarantee of badgers on any of these watches but made it doubly clear in light of the recent 'dip outs' I had been having.
We need not have worried; we had only been on the viewing platform for 12 minutes when the regular sow (I must think of a name for her), came again from the north and gave us a reasonable show, pulling over logs with ease and even catching an animal in the bole of a tree. The creature she caught was quite possibly a small mammal but it was too fast to ID properly and she ran straight to one of the 'separate' for want of a better word entrance holes.
She soon reappeared and was apparently digging under a log. My view wasn't great as she was obscured by the carpet of dog's mercury but it became evident and Steph and David confirmed this, that it was actually 2 badgers mating! I have never witnessed this before. The act went on for 4 or 5 minutes before the boar moved away and foraged for a long time south of the sett just in view of couple of us. For me, having carried out many sett watches being able to witness their activities somewhat removed from the sett is fascinating.
Throughout the evening we saw at least 3 individual badgers coming to or from the sett and my impression is that they, the clan that is, are gravitating back to the main sett. However, I have still not seen Honey, the dominant sow or the group of cubs back yet. By the time I see them it is going to be difficult to tell the cubs apart from other adults as they will have developed so much in preparation of winter. Yes, Autumn is coming, I ate my first blackberry on Wednesday!
As we left the platform, we were stopped dead in our tracks by the return of another badger who sniffed and huffed around the area before moving to the south. Derek and Claire, who were actually on the ground, said they could hear the swish of the badgers gait like a pair of trouser legs brushing together as the badger approached! Overall, it was a great evening and I am happy that the clan is safe and finally returning to the area, I am questioning though, why do they move away? My personal theory is that it could be to allow the parasite level to diminish inside the sett following the most busy and densely occupied period of the year.

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