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A shock visitor to the badger sett !


Important news: If you're near Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway tomorrow (Sunday), I'll be showing off some of my collection between 11am and 4pm at the Wigtown Book Festival. It's a drop in session, and if you're around I'd love to meet you ! I'll blog more about what it was like next week.

Since May my trail camera has been filming at a badger sett a few miles from my village. I've been lucky enough to get some really great footage of the badgers digging out the holes, bringing up three cubs, playing together, preening each other, and coming back and forth. The wood is very isolated, so I've been leaving the trail camera for weeks at a time. Today was the first time in over three weeks that I went back to check on it - and I got an unpleasant surprise !

On the 31st August I found that one of the six or eight entrances to the sett had been recently dug out: (added BY BADGERS ! They do this.)

I guessed there might be more activity there, so I put the camera up high to film that entrance in particular. The angle was perfect, and I got lots of good stills and video (over 120 videos, haven't been through them all yet !). Here's a still of one of the badgers digging out that entrance. She (I think it's the female) has spent lots and lots of time digging out that entrance.

There were also the usual visitors to the trail camera. Apart from a few wood pigeons there were a few roe deer....

...a pine marten (I always get some videos of pine martens, but it was nice to get this daytime one)...

...a fox having a sniff round the sett....

...the red squirrel that lives nearby....

...and....wait, what's this ?

On the 16th September, which was last Wednesday, a man in a hi-vis jacket and a hard hat spent some time looking round the sett. He didn't seem notice the trail camera in any of the videos, but he must have spotted it from behind when he was looking at the other holes. He was filmed twice, int he middle of the day, about an hour apart.

So what was happening ?

This is what was happening.

The wood is being cut down.

This is one of my worst worries with leaving my trail camera out. Between December last year and around April this year my trail camera was filming a roe deer carcass, but soon after that the entire wood was cut down. The whole thing can happen very fast, so I was pretty lucky I went back to the camera when I did.

This seems to happen quite a lot because of the type of woods I go bone collecting in. The best place for me to search is in conifer plantations. The trees are planted in rows, daylight is cut out because of the branches at the top meaning the ground is bare of plants, deer and other animals can easily move between the trees, and there aren't many low branches so it's easy to search there.

However, the reason that forests are planted like this is because eventually they will be harvested. The badger wood had a lot of storm damage anyway, so the landowner probably though now was a good time to cut down, so this wood will soon be gone.

But there are two bits of good news.

One bit is that since the man visited on the 16th September, the badgers don't seem to have been scared away (yet). The trail camera recorded the badgers two nights later, on the 18th, then on the night of the 21st, then again last night. (I don't expect to see the badgers on the camera every night since there are so many sett entrances.)

The other bit of good news is that the area around the badger sett seems to have been marked as not to be cut down. The outer ring of trees round the sett have all been labelled with ribbon like this.

HOPEFULLY.....the badgers won't be too badly disturbed. What I'm more worried about is the lack of other wildlife around them to feed on once the rest of the wood has gone, and whether they will still be able to find enough to eat. I've brought the trail camera home for now, and will probably be using at other locations, but I'll be keeping a CLOSE eye on what happens at the sett !

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