23 November 2013

The badgers emerged at 6PM and stayed out and about until 4:30AM, a much longer "day" than they've had lately. There wasn't any sign of them between 6PM and 8PM so they may have been back underground or may have wandered off somewhere else. The cameras are not always quick enough to react, though one did pick up a mouse racing around at point (probably a shrew in fact, the woods have lots).

I moved one of the badger's dishes a few meters further into the wood, with a view to helping them discover a nearby field, and set a tripod up with a camera on it beside the path. This morning I found the dishes empty (boards knocked off) and tripod and camera knocked over (groan!) and alas, it was hit and run from the wrong direction so .. no video of the collision. The camera did record a faint, blurred and upside down image of a badger who didn't seem to be in a hurry. Perhaps it wasn't a casualty of overtaking on the path so much as the badger equivalent of walking under a ladder? Another lesson learned.

The badgers may or may not have explored a little further, there were no particularly obvious signs this time, but they did a couple of things for the first time and which most happily established wild badgers do.

The first thing most badgers do once they leave the sett is sit around having a good scratch (wild badgers usually have badger fleas), during which they often engage in some social grooming. This often goes on for half an hour or more before there's any thought of looking for food. The badgers have only exchanged passing nibbles so far, however last night there was some extensive and quite affectionate-looking mutual grooming on the path outside the rear entrance to the sett. It's rather grown-up behaviour and a good indication that these badgers are bonded and settling into their new freedom.

Another common badger behaviour recorded very briefly was taking bedding out of the sett for a while. Yes, badgers air their bedding. It's said that sunlight kills parasites. Of course to do it properly then requires leaving it out during the day, and badgers do this, so last night's giving it a few seconds of starlight was just a bit of practice. And... it was clearly instinct at work. These badgers are orphans so they've never seen it done.

The badgers are now very lovey-dovey, behaving like adults. Airing bedding, briefly. Annoyingly truncated video clips (failing batteries again) but still nice to see instinctive behaviour -- bedding being taken out, and then back in. Taking it out in warm weather is better, but still.. practice! The badgers relaxing at 4AM outside the main sett entrance. One having another scratch, one looking for snacks. Note how badgers enjoy poking their faces into holes.