Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Focussing on Badgers.



23rd April.  Sam and I celebrated St George’s day by joining a Badger watch.  I have a confession to make, I have never seen a Badger alive in the wild.  I have seen several dead ones by the side of roads, but never a live one.  I think I mentioned last year in my blog that I was determined to put that right and this was my chance.  I arrived in hope as I knew a friend of mine had had sightings last week in the same area.  However, nature being what it is I tried not to build up expectations too much.

Initially we were shown Badger tracks, currently used and old setts and a Badger latrine.  On making to the viewing area we were warned that it could be very cold and that we must say if we began to feel the cold to much as the leader did not want to have anyone down with Hypothermia.  As someone who also leads events I am deeply aware of the importance of risk assessments and it was obvious such an assessment had been done for this event.  I do note that many people take risk assessments as a bit of a joke, but they are never the people who have to face the consequences if anything goes wrong!  Having spent time photographing at night in Bamburgh in under zero degree temperatures Sam and I were confident we’d cope.  In fact I left afterwards feeling quite warm.  The five participants by necessity were close together throughout so that may have helped.

We soon had one good sighting of four Roe Deer then another of two Roe Deer, probably from the same group, and we were entertained by bird calls and song including from that of Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Blackbirds, Jays, tits, finches and Little Grebe.  As we began our evening vigil a few Greylag Geese flew overhead, their calling being heard clearly too.

Initially the only other movement that took the eye was from that of a rather large Rabbit.  We waited in silence with cameras primed and binoculars at the ready.  I nearly didn’t take my camera as I had been told photography in the conditioned was near by impossible.  As it proved it was, at least initially, quite easy.  It wasn’t to long before a Badger decided to lift its head from the sett and sniff in the air.  It soon vanished back into the sett.  It certainly knew we were there.  Two or three other tentative sniffs were soon taken, but no more was seen than the head of the Badger.   A Badger made a very brief appearance at another opening in the sett.  I just managed to catch movement from the corner of my eye.  Anyway I now had my ‘lifer Badger’ so I was very pleased.  It is an experience I won’t forget easily.

Taking the air.

Looks good out there.

One of the Badgers was eventually completely out of the sett and soon decided to go off for a wander.  Long distance shots were difficult now in the dimming light, but it was good to watch through the binoculars.  An added bonus, and in fact a real highlight of the evening was a good sighting of an Otter as it passed through.  Great stuff indeed.

Good to be out.
 
My expectations of the evening were well surpassed and I think Sam also had his best views of Badgers.  Difficult to say how many we actually saw, but it was definitely at least three.

It was definitely a mammal night feast with Pipistrelle Bats added to our list as we made off leaving the Badgers in peace.  Thanks to all involved, especially the wildlife.  Mammals seen = Badger Meles meles (3), Otter Lutra lutra, Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, Roe Deer  Capreolu capreolus (4+), Common Pipistrelle  Pipistrellus pipistrellus (3+).

11 comments:

  1. Like you, I have never seen a live one. How did you get involved in the badger watch?

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  2. Great evening, as you said my best views ever of Badgers and glad you got to see them!, the pictures are really nice and I especially like the one of the full body out of the sett, better than mine!
    Its not often I can say I have had a 'Lifer' before you have!
    Sam :)

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    1. Yep, great evening Sam, with unexpected bonuses, and if indeed I have a better photo than you it is certainly not often I can say that! :-) Take care. Brian.

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  3. Still waiting to see a live Badger in the wild. Nice post!

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    1. Thanks. :-) Hope your wait will end soon.

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  4. Chuffed for you Brian. I saw my first EVER Badger last week while in Wales while on an Osprey watch but very, very sadly it was like yours by the side of the road lifeless. Totally spoiling what could have been a brilliant day.
    I've managed to sign up for the Gossy Park Badger watch soon so , again , like yourself will see my first. Fingers crossed, of course.
    I presume you banged up the ISO and used manual focussing to capture your cracking images.

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  5. Hope your in luck John. I'll look forward to seeing more images if you are.
    ISO 800 was sufficient for these images taken quite early on. Things became more difficult as the light worsened and the Badgers moved further away. I just took the chance to watch at that point. The Otter was a great bonus. Cheers.

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  6. Sounds like a great night! I have seen Badgers once before, but seeing this and an otter on the same evening is fab.

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    1. Yes, a very good evening Mark. Well worth going. I've suggested that Northumberland Badger Group are asked to provide talk for the LG next year. They do one focussing on persecution of which there is plenty in the Northeast, and not only of Badgers! Cheers.

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  7. Yep a great idea. It would be a talk that would hopefully get a lot of people attending, as obviously the more well-known it is about the persecution the better.

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