Sunday 17/8/09 - A daytime visit too

Having been unable to watch for the badgers last night, although I did put the food out early evening, and the no show on Friday, it is with some trepidation that I go out to look for badgers tonight. Being my last day before returning to work, I decide to visit the Barn Owl Centre during the afternoon and have a wander around looking for badger signs and anything else that might appear!

There is a reasonable number of visitors in the centre, some on a flying experience, others just spectating. I decide to go for a wander whilst people are watching the dispays; I can see the birds being flown later. The first thing I see is one of the wild Little Owls on their favourite tree which is no more than fifty yards from the main flying area. This keeps a number of the captive birds grounded as they could catch and kill a Little Owl. As I get closer to the tree, I see a second Little Owl. I take some distant video on the camcorder and wander on to where the sett is. There is a lot of evidence of badgers foraging around here, lots of small digs and some droppings, with peanuts in! This is close to the wild flower meadow which was planted earlier in the year and quite a lot are now coming into flower. There are loads of bees and butterflies making the most of the flowers and it's interesting looking around at the different flowers and insects. This display will only get better as the summer rolls on, so looking forward to that.

I continue wandering around and end up at the hide. No nuts are lying around so I guess the badgers did turn up last night. I'm trying to find a badgers latrine for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it would be interesting to show people something like this plus, it may show a boundary to their territory. Although I find droppings here and there, there is no scrape with droppings in. I get some good views of one the resident wild Kestrels and then wander back to the flying area. Turner, one of the Eagle Owls, is now flying and these birds always impress me. Their eyes are amazing. I watch for a while and then go for another wander. Vince catches up with me and we talk about the possibility of watching the badgers at the sett, or very nearby. I might feed at the hide on Monday night, but go up near the sett and see what's about.

It's now quite late and after closing time, but Vince offers the remaining visitors to watch a training session with Clyde, a Gyr/Saker cross. He is still on a training line, but the end of his training he does fly and catch the lure. He is looking impressive after only a few days training. Ron, the Golden Eagle is next in line for the training, but I have to go home for dinner.

Beth and myself come back over at 20:50 and quickly get down to the hide and feed up the area. Rather than settle into the hide, I decide to have a wander back down to the sett and see if anything is about. It isn't. We go back to the hide and at 21:35 a single adult badger appears. It works its way towards us feeding confidently, but Beth makes a noise and spooks the animal. It trots off down the main path, the way it came in. After about twenty minutes it returns. I think it's the same one as it is acting very cautiously and keeps looking at the hide. It does eat some peanuts, but keeps to the left hand side of the feeding area and then departs down the left hand path. We wait another fifteen minutes and nothing else shows. There are lots of wild owls about tonight, mainly Barnys, but there is at least one Tawny Owl out there too. Too dark to see anything, though.

It seems that badgers do most of their foraging alone, unless there are cubs around. I think we may now struggle to get the seven badgers altogether again as the cubs are now acting independantly and aren't really cubs any more. I think the two occasions we had seven badgers were right at the end of the cubs "escorted" foraging and we'll have to wait for next year to see that again. Not so good if people are paying to see these animals, but that's nature!

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