Wednesday 19/8/09 - A new observer

My dad has decided to come along with me tonight, which is nice. We head off to the centre, but as he's not the spring chicken he once was I decide to go back to the hide tonight as it is slightly more comfortable than sitting in the long grass nearer the sett. I show him around a few of the birds at the centre, Kaln and Turner, the Eagle Owls, Ollie the Tawny, Gyzmo the Barn Owl and of course, Connie, the young Long-Eared Owl. We then head off towards the sett end of the farm and distribute some nuts where I watched the badgers and fox on Monday. Then off to the hide. I've brought along some dogmeat tonight as our Border Terrier only has three quarters of a can of meat and I don't know why I haven't thought of this before.

Nuts and meat are out, it's a balmy 20 degrees with a warm breeze blowing into our faces as we wait in the hide. Perfect! After about fifteen minutes I spot a badger come around the corner from the main path. He fairly quickly moves to where the bulk of the food is, about three meters from the hide. I have the camcorder with me and try and video the animal in the spotlight. It looks very blurry. I decide to take a still picture as this is silent on the camcorder, unlike the SLR. My only concern is the flash. I should have worried about focusing as there is not enough light, even with the spotlight, for the camera to focus. I push the button anyway and the flash goes off. No reaction fromt the badger at all. That's worth knowing.

We watch it feed confidently for about six or eight minutes when it sniffs the air a couple of times and trots off the way it came. At least one showed up for my dad!

Five minutes later, what is probably the same animal comes around the corner and quickly moves to within three meters again. I notice a second animal come around the main path corner and he's soon alongside the first. I'm trying to see what they are eating and the newcomer finds some dogmeat. Very gently he picks a small bite into his mouth and he tastes it. I can see it gently chewing the meat. Amazingly, he literally spits out the meat and trots off, not to be seen again! There's nowt stranger than badgers! A couple of minutes later from the left path, three badgers in line appear. I move the light onto them and the one at the back pauses, then turns and trots off. The other two work their way into the centre of the feeding area and being eating noisily and confidently. We have three badgers eating about three meters away. I've given up on the camcorder by now. As the food runs out, the badgers move closer to the hide picking up the odd tidbits I've place nearest to us. One of the newcomers finds some dogmeat, he's about two meters away now. He picks up some meat in his mouth and tastes it, much like the first one to try it. This time, he wolfs down the meat and is quickly looking for more. One of the other badgers breaks away and sniffing for peanuts, he moves down the left side of the hide and out of sight. I can still hear him sniffing his way around and both the torch and myself are focus on the corner of the hide. A few seconds later he comes around the corner, sniffing his way along the front of the hide.

To illuminate the badgers, I put the spotlight out through the side of the camo netting that makes the door when the hide is in use. I'm knelt down, too. The badger comes along the front of the hide and passes within a foot of my hand and the torch. I realise the bag I carried the dogs meat down in is on the floor near the doorway and suddenly expect the badger to start sniffing throught the netting. He doesn't and moves away from the hide. Wow, that was close!

Shortly after this, with the food all eaten, the three badgers, almost as one, trot off into the hedgerow to the right of the hide. My dad and me have enjoyed that immensley. We close up the hide and after explaining what might happen on the way back up with a close encounter between badger and feet possible, we make our way back towards the farm. Not far along the path, a badger is coming towards us. As my dad isn't doing anything I said, I turn and speak with him. When I look back, the badger is gone. What the hell, we've had a good night and it's back to the farm for a quick chat with Vince and Juliette.

If I can stop visiting the centre, hopefully I can edit some of the footage I have regarding the camcorder. It's difficult not to go out and try and film some more, but I'll do my best!

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