Tuesday 29/9/09 - Two badgers and some owls

I was off work today so I've already been over to the centre for a wander round with the camera. It was another lovely day and, although I didn't see much, it was nice being out there. A photographer was in photographing Leighton, the Buzzard and although I wasn't too close to where this was taking place, I heard a wild Buzzard calling, so looking around, there were in fact two wild birds. They flew over Leighton and the photographer and began rising. I took another ten or fifteen paces and looked back for the birds, but they had apparently disappeared. I looked a little harder and they were small specs in the sky. They must have risen at a fantastic rate to be that high so soon. As I watched them circling, there was still no movement of their wings, they just soar higher and higher.

I'm back over at the centre at about 7.30pm ready to feed and watch. With animals showing up as early as 7.45pm, I need to be down there and ready by then. I can hear at least two Tawny Owls as I walk down in the gathering dusk, but don't see them. Food out and into the hide, net stays up again tonight as I have been enjoying the uninterupted view of the badgers recently. I've only been in the hide for about five minutes when a badger appears from the right of the hide. He also comes almost along the front of the hide, very close. This is unusual as they often start further out and work their way towards the hide. As normal, I have one LED light illuminating a patch about a metre in front of the hide. He is soon here eating the free offerings I have left out. From the main path, a second badger appears and he is soon feeding close in to the hide, too. I have place myself a little further out into the doorway than normal and I think the badgers notice me. They keep sniffing the air whilst looking in my direction. I also think that the very slight breeze we have is blowing from behind the hide blowing my scent towards the animals. I think because they are a bit more alert than normal, every slight sound I make, but moving my arm, for example, they latch onto and have a bit of a look. Maybe they can see the movement. It doesn't stop them getting pretty close, though. When I decide to feed some additional nuts both badgers watch as I get some from my coat pocket and look slightly nervous. As I whistle, they start sniffing and when I throw them out, the movement doesn't affect the badgers at all as they rush to where the nuts have fallen. They polish of the nuts quickly and I swear they are looking at me and waiting for more! I whistle and let them have some more. I think these two badgers are getting used to this routine as they actually sit there waiting until I throw some more out. When I decide to stop feeding, they sit there for a good thirty seconds before starting to sniff around. It's now they will be bold enough to come up to the step, where I have positioned some nuts. The smaller of the two is always first in line for these nuts and with both front paws on the step I get wonderful views of the animal. During this feeding I have noticed a couple of rabbits to the left of the hide. They don't act nervously at all and with badgers being only fifteen yards away, I'm surprised. Perhaps they know they can outrun a badger if needed.

I stop feeding more nuts and one badger has a good sniff around for three or four minutes before he's leaving the feeding area via the main path. The other animal doesn't want to give in so easily. He sniffs around for a good ten minutes before disappearing to the right of the hide. I start putting my camera, torches and chair away when I hear sniffing. He's reappeared from the left of the hide and is right outside again! Another five or six minutes goes by before the gives up and exits via the path to the left. I sit there a little longer before exiting the hide, leaving a few more nuts for any latecomers and head back. A fairly uneventful walk back up, apart from a rustle in the hedge here and there. Back at the farm I go and watch as Vince introduces Clyde, a Lanner/Gyr falcon, to the hood that falcons wear to keep them calm. He has successfully put it on once and although Clyde is rather vocal, it doesn't look like this will be a problem for him in the future. Whilst watching this, the local, wild Tawnys are very active and we see one fly across the aviaries into a nearby tree where it continues calling. Lovely! A quick cup of coffee and off home. I'm amazed that the thermometer in the car is registering 15 degrees. Very warm for evenings at this time of year. I can't see that lasting too much longer...

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