Sunday 11/10/09 - A cold, clear night

After some drizzle this morning, the day has brightened up with a nice, sunny afternoon. As I went to the BOC yesterday, I don't go over this afternoon, but do get over after dinner for the badgers. I get there a little earlier than of late and I am soon in the hide, dog food and nuts in place, including the doorstep, one small torch on and we're into the wait. That clear afternoon has turned into a clear evening, with a definite Autumnal chill in the air tonight. The mouse is out down in the front left hand corner of the hide and I occasionally put the torch on him. The tiny little creature is fantastic, so quick to move. I chuck a nut, or two, down for him and it's great to see him go over to it, pick it up and turn and leave the hide to go and stash it somewhere. A single badger has appeared from the main path and is coming towards the hide. I happen to be looking at the tree opposite the hide when a sudden, white streak goes right across the sky; a shooting star and a good one at that! For a second I thought it may reach the ground, but it didn't.
A nice wet nose                        
Back to the badgers. They are now feeding closeby and I'm getting some great views. With nuts on the doorstep, I'm eagerly awaiting the moment when they sniff out the food and climb onto the step and start feeding right in front of me. I've already started throwing some additional food down and the usual tussle takes place, a bit of pushing and shoving trying to get a bigger share of the food. Fun to watch.

The badgers are now looking bigger than they were only a couple of weeks ago. I guess they are eating as much as possible to fatten up a little for winter, which from the temperature in the hide, is only just around the corner. Badgers don't hibernate like the Hedgehog or Dormouse does; it may be less active through the winter and stay underground for several days at a time, but doesn't actually slow its body down and sleep through the cold months. I am interested to see how the badgers here react over the winter, bearing in mind I only started watching  them back in July. I haven't watched them through a winter as yet, but intend to be out as much as I can keeping an eye on things and hopefully seeing them from time to time.

                         The last nut!
The smaller badger is now eating off the doorstep. I'm sat on a chair, but am leaning forwards and my head is no more than eighteen inches from the badgers head. Every now and then he pauses, looks at me and sniffs the air, but keeps eating. Once the nuts are gone I throw a few more out and whilst it is sniffing and eating, I place some more on the step. He's back straightaway and with the torch on him he looks immaculate. A beautiful animal in lovely condition.

I stop feeding now. The second badger has been sniffing around the feeding area, but has wandered off already. The smaller one is hovering around in front of the hide, hoping for some more food, but I don't offer any more. He has a sniff around in ever widening circles and ambles off looking for food of a more natural variety. I check nothing is outside and step out, remove the torch hanging off the front of the hide, check I've left nothing behind and shut the door. I always leave a few nuts when I leave in case other badgers appear. I walk back up to the farm with a torch on tonight. As it is clear, with no moon and no light reflecting off the clouds its difficult to make out the path clearly and I always fear I might step on a badger by accident! I hear movement in the hedge on the way back up, but see nothing. Once back at the farm, a cup of coffee and a chat with Vince and Juliette and a wild Tawny turns up calling from the tree nearest the aviaries. Always nice to hear, better to see, but not tonight. He's there, quite close, but stays within the tree. Maybe tomorrow night?

Badger Fact!
Badgers have a gestation period of 7–8 weeks and give birth to 1-5 offspring

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