Thursday 12/11/09 - Two badgers and lots of rain

It's been quite wet today and it doesn't look like stopping as I'm driving from work to the Barn Owl Centre. As I've got my work trousers on I have to put on waterproofs to keep the heavy drizzle and rain off them. Wellies as well as the grass will be soaking. Hat and fleece on the top half and I'm quite looking forward to setting off down the field in the rain. A quick chat with Vince, top up with peanuts and off into the wild night. I do quite enjoy the walk down and arrive at the hide warm and dry. Usual pattern of food out and I'm into the hide and apart from not putting my torch, camera and phone on the ledge at the front of the hide, due to the rain blowing in, and I settle in to see what will happen.

The mouse is out and about not long after I've stopped moving around and gathering the nuts I've left out for him. My favourite "game" is to put five nuts on the edge of the wood that surrounds the mulch floor of the hide. I then sit there in the dark listening for movement. When I think I've heard the mouse, I put a torch on and see how many nuts are left. Some nights he can get three or four before I even hear him. I know it sounds sad, but it can pass the time and it's nice to see him when I catch him out in the open. One time I put the torch on and there's not one, but two mice out! I didn't realise there were two on one side. I thought there was maybe one on each side. As I'm thinking this and watching, one mouse sets off and runs right around the perimeter of the floor and disappears out of the opposite corner to his mate! Perhaps they are separate and he's just helping out with the eating of the food.

In amongst all this excitement, a badger has appeared. He came from the left rear of the hide and he looks very wet! Badgers seem to look soaked to the skin when it's raining, but their thickening coat keeps them warm and dry. Before this badger is in the main area just in front of the hide, another approaches from the main path ahead of the hide looking equally wet. As they are not yet close, it's difficult to identify them, but they are now getting quite close. It turns out to be my usual pair, Margo and the Little One. As you can see from the picture, they are quite happy eating side by side and until I throw some additional nuts out there is no sign of agression. When I do throw some food out, a bit of argy bargy takes place, but only for a second or two. Margo loses this particular bout and starts sniffing around where the badgers have already been. As you know, I have been feeding some fox/badger food, like little dog biscuits, and it has been obvious that peanuts are their favourite food item as they will move through the area where the food is eating all the nuts. Once the nuts are gone, they will go back and eat the fox/badger food. Quite often, and my main reason for her name, Margo will pick up one of these biscuits and with her head held high, will trot off like a horse doing dressage looking very posh. Of course Margo, from The Good Life, was very posh and hence the name. I'm showing my age now, aren't I?

    Margo showing her claws and looking wet
Anyway, back to the action. I've fed a couple of small handfuls of extras to the badgers and they are very close. They can smell the nuts on the doorstep and Margo is sniffing her way up towards them. The step is just the wrong height to eat the nuts without climbing up onto step and so she does. A great view of a wet animal and a strong waft of wet badger. I'm always amazed, and slightly unerved, at the sight of her claws as they look big and shiny. "My, what big claws you have!" She finishes the nuts and climbs down. As she moves away, the little one comes back across the front of the hide, nose to the ground as usual. It takes about ten minutes, but eventually both badgers vacate the feeding area and I can pack up, close up and walk up to the farm, in the rain.


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