Sunday 18/10/09 - Showing my hand too early?

After a great night last night I set off with high hopes this evening. I'm down at the hide just after seven with food out (and some in for the mouse). I settle in and almost straight away I hear the mouse moving around. I put a torch beam down into the corner of the hide and it isn't long before I can see him moving around just outside the netting which covers the front of the hide. As the door opens outwards, the mouse is still protected pretty well as it comes back against the wall he uses. I watch him for a few minutes as he takes the peanuts and runs off with them. I think this is one mouse that won't be hungry this winter!

A lovely shot of a badger feeding on the doorstep     
The first badgers shows at about 7.30 and he catches me by surprise as one minute there is nothing out there and suddenly a badger is six feet from me. He is eating quite happily and moving into the circle of light that my small torch is illuminating. The light doesn't seem to bother the badgers at all nowadays. When I replace the batteries, the whole area is lit up like Wembley Stadium and they can act very nervously then. I normally use a small flashgun diffuser to soften and reduce the light when batteries are new. I've tried various lighting options and one of the small LED lights is still the least intrusive, but adequate options. My trusty handheld rechargeable LED is getting a bit tired in the battery longevity now, but the badgers don't seem to mind this one either. Luckily, nor does the mouse.

           A badger moves in for a closer look
A second badger has appeared from the path to the left and is soon alongside the first badger. This is my regular duo and as the food diminishes, I whistle and throw some more out. A bit of argy bargy and a smile in the dark. Both animals are now very close to the doorstep and the smaller animal is the first to make a move. He confidently feeds off the doorstep and after last nights success I "show" him my hand as I feed. The looks slightly alarmed, but only backs up a step or two after the whistle signals some food is on its way. I drop the food onto the door step and he is moving onto the step straightaway. The second badger is now showing an interest in the door step area too. Again, I whistle and move my hand into clear view. The larger animal takes one look and trots off to the right. The younger animal stops and stares as I place some more peanuts onto the doorstep. He moves in and eats them. I decide to try again, this time with the camera in the other hand. I whistle and move my hand into plain view. He looks at my hand and this time moves towards it. In the picture, above, you can see the badger moving towards my hand ready for the nuts to be released. Although it doesn't look that close in the picture, he got within about six inches of my hand before I bottled it and released the food and withdrew my hand. Wow, that was exciting! I stop feeding at this point and the grin doesn't fade as I wait for the badgers to vacate the feeding area so I can leave the hide without scaring them. The grin is still there as I get back to the farm and tell my little tale to Vince.

Badger Fact
A female badger uses "delayed implantation" when mating. This allows the female to mate at any time and if eggs are fertilised she can put them "on hold" until the correct time of year ensuring she will not only have cubs, but will have them at the prime time of year.

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