Okay so I totally can’t take credit for the title of this blog post – you can thank my mate Scott for that! But we’ve started our winter monitoring of badger populations. I have new toys! Two new HD video trailcams with sound recording – they blow my old trailcam out of the water, and I’m really excited to get some more footage (and biological records) with them over the winter months.
We started the survey season with a return visit to Hogsmeade. (Remember that for the sake of the badgers’ safety we use code names for each of the setts, so you’ll be able to follow each sett’s adventures without putting them at risk – and yes, we DO still have problems with badger digging and baiting in the West Midlands. Last year a group of half a dozen men in camouflage with shovels and Jack Russell terriers “honest, officer, we’re just out for a walk” were seen on one of my sites.)
Last year, Hogsmeade’s badgers had at least two cubs. We’ve also had four adults on screen at the same time, so the population (barring casualties) should be at least 6-strong. There is evidence of a lot of activity; the badgers have dug a few new sett entrances since last year, so we started with those. We only had activity in front of one sett, so all of this video is from one camera:
In the early hours of darkness we only recorded the activity of rodents: a rat that seemed quite happy to set my camera off every two minutes for the best part of two hours, and a mouse with some sort of VTOL capability. Eventually a badger showed up at 01:17. As you can see, this badger (Likely to be a female because of her slender face) appears from the right (the direction of the sett we know they used last year) and spends some time in front of the new entrance, but doesn’t appear to go in.
She does lots of sniffing about for just over 5 minutes, then disappears, returning at 04:05 (presumably returning to the sett after a night’s badgering about). She returns from the right hand side again. The (quite obvious) trail leading away to the left of the entrance did not get any traffic last night at all (we had a cam set up there which caught only rats).
Bizarrely, the last video capture was of a black domestic cat actually ENTERING the sett entrance! I’ve never seen this behaviour before, and will try to find out what could be going on. To my knowledge, cats usually avoid badgers!
The plan next is to place cameras facing the old sett entrances, and also one at a satellite sett to see if there is any activity going on there. I also want some wide-angle shots so we can try to ascertain numbers, but the best way to do that may be to put some honey and peanuts down for them to draw out more than one at a time.
I’m going to add a new tab above, so you can keep up to date with the badgers as the surveys continue. You can check out last year’s video of the cubs below:
If this has piqued your curiosity about our most awesome mustelid, then I highly recommend these books!