Sunday 8/11/09 - An early night

Having "lost" the badgers over the last week, I've been struggling to find out where they are and what time, if at all, they are arriving at the hide. I thought they may have moved later, but unless they are very late I disproved this theory last night. Tonight I decide to go early to see if they've suddenly moved their visit to the hide to around dusk. This would make sense as this is their usual behaviour, up until a month ago, at least.

The "Stranger" on the Doorstep    

I get down to the hide for about 5.20pm and put the food out for the badgers and a few nuts for the mouse. I settle in for a bit of a wait as I have about two hours before I need to be elsewhere. The mouse is out only a few minutes later and I occasionally flick a torch on to watch him collecting the nuts I've put down for him. I must admit, I am occasionally resting my eyes. Sat there on my chair in the dark, it's quite easy to let the eyelids drop, albeit only briefly. After one of these rests, I open my eyes to find a badger out in the feeding area. I quietly glance down at my mobile phone to check the time. 5.56pm. This is the earliest I've seen the badgers out and about and I'm relieved that they are still turning up at all. The badger has moved his way close to the hide and it suddenly glances up and looks at something. I follow his gaze and see another badger is approaching. Thie first badger is the larger of the two regulars I get so I'm expecting the new arrival to be the smaller animal. It isn't. This one looks like a male as his head is noticeably broader at the back giving him a larger, more agressive look. He is slightly bigger in the body too. The two badgers are soon feeding side by side the the remaining food rapidly disappears. It's quite cold tonight, about 4 degrees, and you can clearly see the badgers breath in the cold air as they exhale. I've got the stills camera ready and start to take some pictures. It's nice to get shots of the different badgers, ideally whilst looking at the camera. This is quite difficult as they constantly have noses to the ground unless they pause to listen or sniff for threats. When they do this, it's better not to move or take pictures as it can scare them off. Consequently I have lots of pictures of badgers, head to the ground. The exception is if they are on the door step when a clearer shot can be had because they are almost level with the camera rather than looking down on the animals. It's always good for animal pictures if they are taken at the same level as the animal rather than looking down on them.

       Margo (left) and the "Stranger" (right)

I've surprised when first, my regular badger climbs onto the doorstep and begins feeding, but more so when the "stranger" approaches and also climbs onto the doorstep. This is quite exciting as two animals on the doorstep at the same time doesn't happen very often. I wait until they've cleared the doorstep and climbed down. I then whistle and throw the nuts a couple of feet landing them right in front of their noses. As expected, a bit of argy bargy takes place and the male animal wins. The other badger, who I will call Margo from now on, wanders off sniffing for food closeby. The male badger stays around and I manage, after whistling, to place some more food on the doorstep. He looks at me nervously as I do this and backs up a couple of paces, but as soon as I put the nuts down his courage returns. As I withdraw my hand he moves in and onto the step and eats the nuts. Magic! I try the same manoevre again but this time he does spook and trots off into the dark. During this little, intense exchange, I hadn't noticed Margo wandering off. So that's it for tonight, some really good views, two on the doorstep at the same time and a new badger feeding off the doorstep. I wander back up to the farm and have a quick chat with Vince and it's off home to a nice dinner and a glass of wine!

Badger Fact!
Badgers claws can be up to 1.5" long.

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