Friday, June 19, 2009

Last night was the last of the Sussex Wildlife Trust badger evenings of the 2009 season. They were enormously successful this year with most being fully booked and all producing badgers meaning a 100% success rate. I must admit the continued success on each watch was meaning more pressure for me to produce badgers and thankfully it ended last night with no dissatisfied customers and no disturbed badgers. Private watches are still continuing if you are interested as well as one-to-one photography evenings.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I must admit after the bluebells have gone I feel a little sad at Scrag. Its silly really, there is plenty of other flowers to find just not quite as overwhelming as the blue sea of bluebells. Once again ragged robin is in flower; this is one of my favourite wild flowers and I have managed to find a couple more spots where it is hanging on at Scrag. There is also plenty of herb robert, foxgloves, sanicle as well as honeysuckle.
The canopy and under-storey is alive with fledgling birds cheeping and tseeping away. I have already seen young blue, great and long tailed tits, nuthatch, wren, robin and today goldfinches already hanging around the niger seed feeders. Not surprisingly, I have also seen and heard a lot more activity at the sparrowhawk nest; sparrowhawks eggs are timed to hatch at the same time as the fledging of the small woodland birds; it means easy meat for the predators!
I have a sneaking suspicion that a tawny owl pair are occupying one of the tawny nest boxes (yippeeeee! about time too!). I have disturbed an owl there several times as I have tracked badger paths as well as finding white-wash beneath some of the field maple surrounding the oak that has the box. The female will just sit close by and keep vigil during the day. I can hear movement from the box itself but I think the young are too small to get to the entrance hole. At the moment I am steering clear of the site; I want this pair to breed successfully and maybe develop some loyalty to the site - too much disturbance may lead to abandonment. But I shall check it periodically and hopefully a couple of fluffy owl chicks will poke their heads out soon.
In the last 8 days I have spent 7 of them with the badgers; on one evening, a solo photography session, I had 9 adult badgers, the most I have ever counted!
So, in summary, it is all happening at Scrag as usual!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Last night I had a fantastic solo badger photography session. As well as getting some great shots, I had 6 badgers out feeding, playing and even climbing (sort of) trees! When I'm photographing badgers I normally like to get my shots and then get out swiftly and quietly so I can leave the wood before its too dark. However, their behaviour was so compelling I just sat there watching, I was a little concerned at one stage when they were chasing each other that they were going to crash into me! I think I managed to get a documentary shot (haven't checked yet) of Vincent (after Van Gogh) because he only has one ear.
At around 10 after a slight lull in behaviour I decided to leave. In order to not disturb any badgers I move trying to mimic badger sound, shuffling leaves with my feet rather than left-right stamp of human foot-fall. In this way, I managed to retrieve both flash units and get away from the sett. I think, however, that my movement was so convincing that I had three badgers join me on the way out. They playfully sprinted past me and had a couple of fights before disappearing from sight, but not hearing. I take not disturbing my badgers very seriously and it consequently took me another 40 minutes of walking like a badger to eventually leave!