30 November 2013

Our hairy friends, as they have been called, were out and about again last night on yet another warm, dry night. They came out at 17:48 and were last seen above ground at 4:08 -- a hard day's night again. There were fresh snootle marks overnight, that is to say obvious holes poked by badger noses, all over the place on the woodland paths near the sett. And their dish was empty -- only one this time, near the sett. A busy night by the looks of things, and so it proved.

No sooner had they been reduced to one dish than they wandered into the rest of the woods and looked around for the one that had been in there for a few nights. One grubbed up a root or a bulb and appeared to rub the dirt off it right under the camera and sat down to eat it. Then the board that covered the missing dish and which had been left on the ground was flipped over remarkably easily (it's heavy), just in case, with a noticeably still muddy nose.

Who should appear in the next video clip but.. the stalker: that black cat is shadowing the badgers. He was out of luck that time, as he was on the night they didn't go into the woods -- he checked the dish several times in the night.

Back at the sett the badgers did a bit more digging and some more (yes, more) dragging in bedding. Leaves this time. Lots of crunchy oak leaves. Surely the soil being removed is to make room for more and more insulation? I've read accounts of how deep or how old or how far the tunnels of badger setts can go, but I've yet to come across any accounts of the quantity of bedding, which must be a dustbin-load or two by now (I have been raking leaves myself). It's hard not to admire this dedication to comfort and forward planning.

Apart from one getting sprayed with soil being kicked out of the sett while trying to bring bedding in, the division of labour looked effective. However, they're not always inclined to get out of the way of traffic. One or other has sat outside the sett blocking the exit of the other attempting to reverse in or out on several occasions, at least until an extra heave followed.

Badgers are at their wariest when emerging from the sett, but once out they can occasionally be surprisingly noisy, e.g., when dragging leaves, and sometimes quite preoccupied. I've seen this many times, even so I was surprised to see in one video clip: that cat doing some badgerwatching! The stalker sat outside the sett and watched a badger going about his business apparently completely unaware of its presence, presumably because the wind was in the cat's favour. Badgers are conflict avoiders and it would likely have just gone underground if it had noticed it. The cat slipped behind a tree, perhaps ready for a vertical escape, and stayed out of sight until the badgers disappeared for a while.

Some clips of the night's industry, plus badger and cat together. Foraging: a badger digs up a root or a bulb under the camera, followed by a visit from a cat.