Saturday 31/10/09 - Halloween, but no ghosts, only badgers and a mouse!

Due to being very busy at the moment, I haven't been updating the blog as regularly as I should. I have been over to see the badgers but to update the more recent sightings, I've missed a few days out. To summarise, the big event, as far as I was concerned was the clocks changing. This moved everything the badgers do to an hour earlier as, obviously, they don't change their ways the same as we do. That was what I thought, anyway. It turns out the badgers have moved to around an hour earlier, but they have been all over the place with regard to timings. Also, I've had the odd visit from a badger who I don't normally see and who is consequently quite nervous of our usual format for watching the badgers. Badgers have been turning up from about half six, which means I can just about get there straight from work. However, they have been coming out quite late some nights, up to 8.00 o clock. I'm sure this doesn't have anything to do with the changing of the clocks, but they are acting a little inconsistently at the moment. Anyway, back to what is actually happening.

My wife, Juliet, accompanies me down to the hide this evening. Both kids are out and we take the opportunity to share the badger watching. I've been promising to take her out for weeks! Due to the bridge over the canal near the centre being closed, we have to take the long way around and I arrive at the centre a little later than planned. Once in, we have a quick chat with the regulars, and Karen is there too. She has been out fundraising in Cheltenham today as a volunteer. If you think you can help in any way at the Barn Owl Centre, please give them a ring.

Juliet and myself get down to the hide just after six and we sit quietly in the dark. I say quietly, but traffic noise and fireworks seem to be ever present tonight with some fireworks going off quite close to the centre. Still, it doesn't take long for the mouse to appear and start claiming the peanuts I've put down for him. He is highly entertaining, darting around and at one point he runs between my feet! At 6.30 the first badger arrives. Due to a bright moon, I've partially lowered the net over the doorway to stop us being lit up so much. The badger doesn't notice us, however, and he moves closer to the hide. A second badger comes along about ten minutes later and is soon alongside the first. My two regulars. With the badgers now trying to fatten up for winter, when food will be a lot more scarce, and the fact their coat is appearing to get thicker, they are both looking a lot bigger now than a month ago. The badgers don't seem to mind the fireworks either and both are now near the door step. The larger of the two makes a move first and puts its paws up onto the step. I'm using a torch to illuminate the animal at this range as the torch outside doesn't have much effect at this close range. The two badgers don't mind and after the first badger clears the step, I whistle and throw some food out to distract them. I then put some more food onto the step and the second badger now has its turn. The food I put on the step was very close to me but the badger moves in and begins eating about a food from both the torch I'm holding and my free hand. As this extra helping of food is finished off, I try and put some more food on the step, but one of the badgers sees my hand and trots off. I stop feeding now and after a few minutes the other badger disappears into the dark. Another really good evening for seeing the badgers up close and always nice to see the mouse. Good to share with someone, too!

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