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!

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