17 November 2019
The cameras showed that Roger was out at 5PM. A few days ago it seemed there was more time to prepare his food in the evening but the clocks changing and the shortening days seem to compress the time available.
Overnight he at all of his food except... finally, he decided he'd had enough of acorns. He left a half a dozen uneaten and he chewed instead at some of the plastic sack he's now partially uncovered over the roof repair.
One camera or two? Or none? I have to decide every day. The cameras eat batteries and it takes a while to review the video clips if there are many, which sometimes happens, not always usefully. (And, of course, editing them and uploading them – on a 256kbps DSL connection – also takes time).
I'd set up one camera. Then I changed my mind and went back to switch on a second. In the interim, in broad daylight, Roger had decided to emerge and go about his business. I had passed by the enclosure and was on my way round it when I realised he was out. When he finally got wind of me he ran back to the sett but didn't go underground until I moved again in order to leave.
Shortly afterwards we attended a presentation hosted by Birdwatch Ireland by Dr.Aoibheann Gaughran of Trinity College Dublin on 5th of November on her doctoral work on the impact of roadworks on the ranging behaviour of badgers.
Who has seen a live badger? she began, but didn't add in broad daylight today.
The research findings were very interesting, surprising, and important. And Dr. Gaughran's affection for badgers was a delight.
The 2nd camera was set up on a tripod overlooking Roger's "bath". He has yet to do anything other than drink from it. He did, however, flip quite a large stick with his nose a couple of times in a playful manner making impossible not to wish he had a companion. A bit more of the plastic sack was exposed overnight.
Roger was out before 5PM. It was a wet night (16mm of rain overnight) and he stayed out for only a few hours. He's not a hungry badger who has to forage for hours and could easily retire and sleep off a few kilos if the weather was bad enough. I'd like to see him doing some renovations on the sett but he hasn't shown much interest so far. His paws are soft, the ground is hard, and the weather terrible. The temptation to go back underground and to stay in bed is understandable.
Almost 16mm of rain overnight, again. Roger was out only briefly.
Yesterday when putting Roger's food out I noticed some balled-up bracken in a bundle that had rolled and come to rest touching the electric fence. I moved it well away but forgot to note today whether he'd taken it in. I went to check this evening just as the light was fading. I could hear noises of Roger moving about uninhibitedly and, with the wind in my favour, I approached quietly and stood still beside a tree.
After a minute or so he sensed my presence and ran towards the sett. Instead of disappearing underground he slowly approached me, scenting the air and looking in my direction. He came within a few feet of me and then did something I haven't seen before: he took a few steps back and wiggled his back like an excited cat getting ready to pounce and he rushed toward me. Then he did it again, stopping beside the fence, still looking in my direction. It seemed to be either a challenge or an invitation to play. He certainly didn't seem to be afraid, or even cautious.
Not a good idea Roger, rushing up to strangers.
I slipped away quietly.
The action was off camera and a windy night resulted in too many clips of bracken waving in the wind.
A foul night with a lot of rain. The original main entrance of the sett, which Roger has ignored so far, suffered a landslide and is now quite jammed.
More rain and a further landslide at the main sett entrance.
A dry night finally but Roger stayed underground and didn't touch his food. The board on top of it was move slightly to one side, as if he'd been disturbed. That was indeed the case.
There was a dog on the loose in the wood during the day and it showed up repeatedly on a camera overnight near the enclosure, checking and rechecking a dish emptied of a few peanuts between his visits by a passing badger who knew how to get at the contents.
Roger sensibly decided to lie low.
I'm not certain, but I think the passing badger was one of our former releases whom I last saw for sure in June – one who has a slight but noticeable limp.
Roger seems to have dug a side passage off the "back" entrance to the sett. He turns left on disappearing underground, but apart from kicking out a few stones hasn't done much excavating. It's not business class; I wonder how dry it is.
Previously I've recorded him taking in small bundles of bedding in his mouth, like a dog. During the night he took what looked like a white stone out of the sett and carried it off camera. I looked for it but found only a stone that seemed too large to be the one he had in his mouth.
Roger took a long time to emerge from underground and was quite cautious about doing so. He waited near the entrance sensing the air for 20 minutes before he decided it was safe. Even watching it on a sequence of video clips I found myself wanting to do what I had done on occasion many years ago when up a tree and watching badgers: make a noise like a badger scratching. Done properly it can provide reassurance that other badgers are out and about and that all's well. Of course, it's not a sound Roger is yet familiar with, and it's good that he's cautious.
The rear entrance is beginning to look like a main entrance.
And the main entrance no longer looks like an inverted cone with a spoil heap.
Roger's fence should have come down this weekend if the usual "soft release" protocol was followed. After the dog incident and some very wet nights I'm inclined to give him a bit longer