Monday, 24 February 2014

The Mystery Of The Missing Badgers

On the outskirts of the village there is a large mound of earth. It is not much to look at, and in the summer an eruption of nettles protects it from human intruders, but for at least the last three years now it has been shared by both a family of Foxes and a family of Badgers.

This year I assumed would be no different. However, on a recent visit to the mound I made a surprising discovery. The entrance to the Badger's sett, which at this time of year I would normally expect to find littered with the disheveled straw and bracken that made up their bedding over the winter, was bare and lifeless. There was no sign anything lived there at all. Upon closer inspection, the reason for this absence of Badger activity became woefully clear- the holes into their sett had flooded!

The entrances into the Badger sett were completely flooded!
So what had become of the Badgers? Strewn across the entrance to the den that is usually inhabited by a family of Foxes (on the other side of the mound) were the tell-tale scraps of straw that suggested somebody was home. With that in mind, I decided to set up my trail cam. Forty-three of the forty-four files it recorded that night were corrupted (I should really invest in some better equipment!), but the one video it did manage to store was enough to answer my question:

The mystery of the missing Badgers was solved! Having been flooded out of their own sett, probably soon after the storms started in January, they must have found their way into the Foxes' den which is only occupied while they raise their young. The chances are that the two chambers are connected by a subterranean network of tunnels, so it would have been very easy for them to do so. 

And with our local vixen probably looking to settle down to give birth sometime very soon, it remains to be seen whether she and her partner will move back into their old den to bring up their young alongside the Badgers (it has been known to happen), excavate a new one in some other part of the mound, or move somewhere else entirely. I will of course keep you posted on this as I find out more over the next few weeks. 

Meanwhile my search for a Barn Owl has continued to prove futile. Last week I went out every evening in search of the elusive bird, yet it was still nowhere to be seen. I even bumped into a couple of local wildlife photographers who were also looking for the owl, but they had had no luck either. This week I think I may have to go one step further, and start searching for the owl through the fields at night.

It's time to fix my head-torch!


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