Sunday 27/9/09 - Visitors in the hide

I've been to Prescott Hill Climb this afternoon, so no Barn Owl Centre as yet. It's been another fantastic day weatherwise. Feel a little cheeky actually. Out at Prescott all day, then back, eat dinner then off over to see if any badgers are about. They are. By time I'm down at the hide, owls are calling, badgers are moving in the dry ditch and food out, into the hide, and wait. I leave the net up tonight. Badgers don't seem to mind if it isn't down, especially when I'm on my own. Why not have an uninterupted view?

A badger checks out the doorstep nuts          

Two badgers turn up tonight, a few minutes apart. One from the right of the hide, the second down the main path. Both are feeding confidently just in front of the hide. I begin feeding some addtional nuts and a little push and shove takes place, but nothing aggresive. Both badgers seem to win at the push and shove with neither animal showing as dominant. This apparently friendly push and shove is always amusing to watch.

                   Over the top!
I've put some nuts on the doorstep and soon the smaller animal latches onto them. He puts one front foot on the step and begins eating the nuts. He's only about two feet from me and I'm taking pictures of him with flash and he just doesn't mind. I get a fantastic view of a badger up close, including those claws. I think the head of a badger is smaller than you would think for an animal of it's size. I guess you don't want a big head when you spend so much time underground. Up close, you also see whiskers which aren't immediately visible when you look at a badger.

In with both feet              
As often happens when they feed from the doorstep, they knock some nuts into the hide. Tonight, with the net up and being on my own, I decide to watch and wait to see if they will come in. At first the badger waits on the step sniffing and trying to reach the nuts that lie on the floor of the hide. He tries in vain, but cannot reach so eventually he gives up. He wanders back outside and has a sniff around, but he just can't leave those nuts in there uneaten. He returns and is soon gaining in confidence and placing a front foot onto the floor inside of the hide. He is about 2.5 feet away and suddently seems much bigger! I continue kneeling there and watching, fascinated as this wild animal eats the nuts on the floor. Suddenly he puts both feet in to reach a few nuts which he couldn't manage in his previous position. He is also moving in my direction. I'm sure he's going to hear my heart beating shortly, it seems really loud! I'm really pleased that the trust, or whatever it is they are relying on to enter the hide, is coming on the way it is. I think of the clip on Jurassic Park where the T-Rex has just chased the jeep and the guy says "do you think they'll have that on the tour?". I smile to myself. I don't think I'll be attempting this with visitors as I don't want to scare the animals or the guests! It is great to see, though and I feel a bit sad that no one is here to share this with me. The badger mops up the remaining nuts and eases backwards out of the hide. I stop feeding now and after about ten minutes, the two badgers have left in different directions and I gather my things, shut up the hide and make my way back up to the farm. Another exceptional night. Every time something new happens lately, I think " what else can happen to surpass that?". Something does each and every time. It must have to stop soon as they can't get much closer, or more confident. Perhaps you'd care to join me sometime? If so, call the Barn Owl Centre on 01452 383999. It would be nice to meet you.

Badger Fact
Badgers don't hibernate in winter, like a hedgehog. They do become less active, especially when the weather is cold. All the more reason to get out and put some food down for them!

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