Tuesday 20/10/09 - Guests in tonight, what will they see?

After some heavy rain this afternoon, the weather has cleared up a little so it doesn't look too bad for my two guests this evening. I meet Kath and Wayne at the Barn Owl Centre at about 6.45pm and we have a quick chat, about badgers, of course. Kath has seen them before, but Wayne has only seen the unfortunate ones by the side of the road. He has brought his camcorder along to see if he can get some footage. Armed with several torches, lots of nuts and some badger/fox food, we set off for the hide. It is quite windy and, due to the cloud cover, quite dark already. As we are approaching the hide, a Barn Owl flies out from one of the trees across the field. It isn't a great view due to the low light, but the white underside is clearly visible. On arrival at the hide I get them seated, get some food out and put up a torch shining onto the ground a metre in front of the hide doorway. I put some food onto the doorstep just in case we are lucky enough to get a badger really close. I don't put the net down all the way, just use it to restrict a bit of the light reflecting from the clouds. It's 7.00pm.

Recently, the badgers have been arriving around 7.20pm and this time comes and goes. As does 7.30. At 7.40, a badger approaches from the left hand path, but it keeps close to the long grass not coming into the feeding area at all and trots off behind left of the hide. I'm hoping he'll reappear from the right side of the hide as this is one of their usual tricks. Fifteen minutes later, he's not reappeared. At around 8.00pm a badger shows from the main path working his way down the line of nuts I left on the way in. He gets to within four or five metres, but then turns and trots off the way he came. This isn't looking good. I decide that I will put a less intense light up. I'm using the same LED torch as Sunday night, but it does look bright out there tonight. I use an identical torch, but with a flash gun diffuser over it to reduce the intensity and I hope that may give the badgers a bit more confidence.To keep our spirits up, the mouse has appeared and at least this little animal is confidently strolling around the floor of the hide, picking up and running off with peanuts I put down earlier. We must have been sat very quietly because this is the most active I've seen the mouse who at times comes very close to our feet.

I'm just beginning to think that we may have a no show when the smaller of the two regulars appears from the right side of the hide. He moves across the front of the hide and onto the bulk of the food. He sits there happily eating and slowly moves closer to the hide. I'd put a bit more food out than normal, expecting two animals and not throwing as many extras as normal out after the main course was over. This means with one animal doing all the eating, progress is slow. At one point he trots off to the left of the hide, but it looks like a "temporary trot off" rather than a "goodnight, I'm gone trot off". Thankfully he reappears, further out and quickly sniffs his way back into the main feeding area, about three feet from the door. At this point I decide to throw some nuts out to try and tempt him nearer the door, so I whistle, throw a few nuts out and he immediately comes over to where they've land and begins eating. That seems to work and as I'm slowly and carefully getting some more food from my pocket, the mouse does a rather loud sprint across the floor, kicking up some of the bark and making quite a noise. The badger looks towards the sound and trots off. This time it is a "goodnight, I'm gone trot off". I don't think he'll be back. I let the others know but we decide stick it out for another five minutes. Unfortunately, I was right and the badger doesn't reappear. We decide to make a move and after sitting quietly for over an hour and a half, we get up to stretch our legs. I carefully check outside to make sure nothing is about, collect my things  and we walk back up to the farm. Again, on the way back we see a Barn Owl in the darkness leaving a tree and flying off across the field. Twice in one night is good, I've not seen the Barn Owl very often, but we did tonight.

Back at the farm and we all have a chat about wildlife encounters and then my two visitors leave seemingly well satisfied with their evening. It was a bit touch and go for a while, but the badgers came through in the end, thankfully!

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