Friday, May 22, 2009

Something seems to have happened at the badger sett. I'm not sure what it is, but I think there are only 3 adults at the main sett and their emergence is very, very slow and nervous. Whether this is as a result of inter-group politics or some form of human disturbance I am not sure. Somewhat chillingly, I found an old shotgun cartridge on top of the sett at the weekend.
Anyway, it has gone from 6 or 7 animals emerging confidently at around 8pm to just 2 or 3 slowly poking their noses out up to an hour later. Running badger events is fantastic, especially as last night none of the 8 SWT attendees had seen a live badger before, but it can be very stressful when they are nervously emerging so late.
I shall be there on my own this evening to photograph so we shall see.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Badgers

It has been a mixed week of badger watching mainly dominated by the weather. Tuesday 12th was a great watch; very typical with up to 6 badgers out , nice and relaxed. Thursday, however, it poured with rain from the moment the group was on the platform; it was a disaster for the poor but stoic people with me. There were perhaps sightings of 5 badgers, but they were brief and elusive. In essense I learnt that they don't bother coming out in heavy rain. Although I probably already knew this, it was good in a sense to witness it directly. Badgers would appear at the sett entrances and sniff as usual but then just sink back down as if to say, 'no way, not tonight!' The best thing to see for me though were the puffs of 'smoke' that appeared every few minutes at the front of the main sett mound. It took me a while to realise that it was puff ball fungi being hit by the rain drops creating an ethereal cloud or spores. Dispersal in action.
Friday's watch was cancelled from the track due to another prolonged downpour as soon as I met the group, grrrrr!
Tonight's (Saturday's), however, was perhaps the best badger watch I have ever witnessed. We were on the platform for just 10 minutes when 3 badgers emerged relaxed and confident. This number grew to 6 with lots of behaviour and feeding. During a lull in activity a fox marched up confidently from the north and also started feeding around the sett! We had excellent views from 5 or 6 metres; in one view of my binoculars I had 2 badgers and the fox. The two badgers then trotted off SW followed by the opportunist fox.
We then had 4 badgers out feeding close to the platform. The finale was a play-fight and chase between the last 2 at the sett before they trundled off west.
Pure magic!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I have just run the first Scrag Copse Photographic Experience weekend and it went a hundred times better than I hoped. The weather was fairly good; it didn't rain at least. However, the group were fantastic and the social aspect around the camp fire blended with some great wildlife made it for me. In the evening there was a badger watch which turned up at least 5 badgers despite being interrupted by a spooked roe deer doe.
We also got a couple of grass snakes, slow worms (which were ignored in favour of the grass snakes), butterflies and a few woodpeckers, nuthatches and goldfinches.
Despite the bluebells being just a few days over the flowers were spectacular with yellow archangel, wild strawberry and bugle coming to a peak.
In essence it was good to see everyone relax over the weekend and start to enjoy the smaller stuff in the woods such as the moths that I trapped overnight; it wasn't a great catch but was the first time I had done this at Scrag.
I am pencilling in next year's event already; please email me if you wish to be considered for this.