Saturday, 17 October 2015

Another interesting weekend

As is usually the way, that weekend feeling began to sweep over me as soon as I left work on Friday. I am trying to photograph some badgers with normal photographic equipment rather that a trail camera. It is proving to be a bit of a challenge, but I am enjoying trying to get some results. As I drove home, my thoughts turned to which of the Setts we are aware of would give me the best chance of getting some better quality pictures. 

By 7pm I had made my decision and set off armed with my camera and a plan. I arrived at the location at about 7.45pm and straight away had mixed feelings about the success of this evenings plans. Although it was now dark, it was still light enough to make out a large badger that was already going about its business about 90 yards out in a field of stubble. I enjoyed watching it amble about, but I knew that if it spooked, it would be unlightly to return anytime soon to have its picture taken.  I attempted to set up my camera as quietly at possible, but this badger knew something was amiss and dashed back towards the sett. It stopped short of the sett and turned to face in my direction. It was very unlightly it could see me, their eyesight is pretty poor, but maybe it could smell me, and it had definitely heard me. 

It didn't go to ground, but sloped off with no sense of urgency in a direction that put distance between us until it vanished into the shadows. As it hadn't rushed to ground in panic, I hoped it may return, or maybe, hopefully, some of its sett mates, but I kind of knew an appearance this side of midnight was going to be unlightly. It never works out well when the badgers are out and about before you arrive. 

At around 8.30pm a movement caught my eye and I turned to see a Barn Owl hunting along the field edge. I was sat well back under a large Oak tree with my back to the trunk still hoping for the return of the badger. The Owl flew out into the stubble field and even in the dark my binoculars gathered enough light to allow me to watch it hunt. It dropped into the stubble and then rose up a foot of so, dropping back down hard onto the stubble. It did this twice more then stayed on the ground, its wings slightly spread. After a few seconds it flapped, took flight and rose up from the ground. It moved quickly and I soon lost it in the darkness. Imagine my surprise when it suddenly reappeared right in front of me! If silently flew under the canopy of the tree I was sitting under and perched on a branch about 6ft above my head. It stayed for a few minutes, but I feel it sensed something wasn't quite right. It took flight again and as it silhouetted against the skyline, I could see the rodent it held in its left talons. 

At around 10.30pm the Barn Owl returned and perched on a fence post about 70 yards from where I sat. I kept checking with the binoculars as I scanned the area for the hoped for approaching badgers and it stayed on this perch for at least 30 mins. At just gone 11pm while checking for badgers I noticed it had dissapered. 
As expected, no further badger activity was observed and at around midnight I quietly packed up and headed for home. 

I already had plans for Saturday morning. Pete had found a spot on one of our local patches that shows signs of feeding activity each morning. It isn't close to any sett we are aware of, but it looks like badgers are foraging in the area. We had set a trail camera up last weekend and it had been in situ for a week. We were looking forward to seeing what if anything it had captured

 Trail Camera and the peanut burying trowel. 
IMG 0253

Well, the trail camera had taken 160 pictures. Most of them were mice and squirrels! However, a Fox put in an appearance one night, and a solitary badger visited the area every evening. 



We were surprised to have captured a pair of Muntjac one evening too. 


So now it's back to trying to photograph a badger with my actual camera rather than my trail camera. Succeed or fail, I will no doubt enjoy trying. 

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