Thursday 1/10/09 - A return trip for some visitors

I came over to feed the badgers last night, but didn't stay and watch them. I'm tending to take the odd Wednesday off at the moment due to things I should be doing elsewhere.

If you read this blog regularly, you will know that we had a family of four in to see the badgers and had a no show. I was really disappointed so we decided to offer them a return trip to try their luck again. I was a little nervous about this trip as five in the hide is a lot and I didn't want them to be disappointed again. It also turned out that the wind had swung round to a North Westerly today meaning the wind would be moving from the hide to the feeding area. To cap all that, a near full moon was due and it was a clear sky. The moon would be shining straight into the hide. Not that I was at all negative as the badgers had been showing so well recently.

When they arrived, I met them in reception and we had a bit of a chat. They were quite excited at having another go and with the dusk well and truly here we made a move down to the hide. On arrival at the hide at a quarter past seven, we sorted out seating for them and then I started putting the nuts and dog food out. I put more food further from the hide tonight so hopefully the badgers would be feeding confidently before moving closer to the hide. I put two small LED lights up illuminating the area where the majority of the food was and had my trusty LED handheld for illuminating anything outside of this area. We settled in, I put the net covering the door down and we began the wait. As a last act before the wait began, I put some nuts in two piles on the doorstep and told them we may be lucky. After a few minutes, we could hear a pair of Little Owls calling to each other. Shortly after that, with lots of screeching and other noise, a Little Owl flew into the tree opposite the hide and perched on the end of a dead branch so we could easily see it. A minute or two later, it flew off towards the farm. The Tawny Owls started just after this with at least two birds calling to each other. At least we had seen some wildlife, if not badgers.

A few more minutes went by and I spotted a badger to the right of the hide and indicated this to the others. By time I'd turned around to look again, it had gone. I waited a few minutes and it hadn't reappeared and I was worried that it had smelt us and decided not to eat here tonight. That animal showed at 7.30 which is the earliest I've had so far. Ten long minutes past before I noticed a badger approaching down the path to the left of the hide. He came into the feeding area a little way, but was acting very cautiously. At one point he ran back up the path he'd arrived from and I just hoped that wasn't it for the evening. It wasn't. A couple more minutes went by and another badger appeared from the main path and began working its way towards the hide. He then trotted down the right side of the feeding area and I thought we'd lost that one too. I needn't have worried as both badgers now made their way back into the feeding area and settled in to eating and sniffing. They sat contentedly eating about four feet from the hide and were moving closer, slowly. A couple of times they stopped and looked at the hide, or sniffed the air and I just held my breath. As I had not put too much food close to the hide, less than a metre out, I now had to decide whether to risk feeding them additional nuts. Would the movement scare them off? It doesn't normally, but if they were being extra cautious tonight, you never know. I decided to risk it and after opening up the net slightly, I whistled and threw some nuts out. They had a good look, but moved onto the nuts and came a little closer. I looked around at my guests and all were intently watching the badgers and all seemed to be smiling a little.

The badgers had now settled down and I was managing to feed them additional nuts from time to time. They were now right outside the hide in front of the door and, as ever, their noses were to the ground trying to find anything edible. Occasionally, one or the other, would lift it's nose and have a bit of a sniff, but there were no obvious signs of fear or panic. Having fed the badgers several more times, I felt they had probably had enough and stopped feeding. The badgers continued sniffing around looking for more food and one of them eventually lifted his head and sniffed along the doorstep. As soon as it smelt the nuts there, it lifted itself up onto the step and began eating. As I said earlier, we had the net down, but the view was very good and at one point the badger lifted itself up even higher, raised it's nose to sniff the air and put it up against the net. Chris, Wendy, Beth and Amy were all sat within two or three feet of the badger, who even now didn't suddenly run off or panic, it just carried on sniffing, looking for that last nut. It took another five minutes, or more, before both badgers had wandered off into the night. In excited whispers, we began discussing the events of the evening, collected our things and made our way back up to the farm.

Vince was delighted that we had had such a great display and we all had a bit of a chat about badgers, owls and wildlife in general. It was a great evening and all involved had an enjoyable experience, some of whom had never seen a live badger before. You can cross that one off the list now!

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