This week has brought back the colder weather, delivering us ‘lambing snow’ and the Badgers have been making prompt appearances at the hide, arriving just before the sun has set, with the females typically arriving first for a quick feed. With lighter nights arriving it is easier to observe the subtle differences between the Badger’s coat coloration; the colours can vary from a darker grey to a slight orange/ brown hue.
One of the male cubs from last year has begun to assert himself during feeding activities by chasing away the older male Badger from the enticing scattering of nuts. The males tend to hang around for longer to scout out the area more thoroughly in search of food, whereas the females make a swift exit after feeding in order to head back towards the sett.
We have been experiencing some nights with high winds which has a direct effect on the Badger’s behavior, they exhibit more cautious foraging behavior and frequently pause to listen out for threats and they also stick close to one another on the feeding platform. These high winds render the clan more vulnerable because the wind curbs their ability to use two of their strongest senses; smell and hearing. Gusts of strong winds distort sound and make it a lot harder for Badgers to interpret that sound and judge potential danger. Furthermore, scent messages which they use to communicate with one another are often disturbed by high winds.
The female Pine Marten has also been making an appearance in the hide. The beginnings of her summer coat are present across the bridge of her nose where it is much darker and smoother than her woolly winter fur. The differing coats are made up of dark, sleek, guard hairs and fluffy grey underfur. Each seasonal shed makes up coats that contain different levels of each type of hair. In winter, the Pine Marten is covered in a thicker layer of underfur that helps them to keep warm in the chilly winter months. Whereas in the summer months, they require less insulation and so the unnecessary underfur hairs are shed. Therefore, in summer the fur takes on a look that is primarily reflective of those sleek, dark, guard hairs and in winter the Pine Marten has a grey woolly appearance. The beginnings of this darker moult line will spread over the back of her head and down towards her tail as her summer coat gradually takes over and she is transformed.
Upon returning from the hide the eerie mechanical sounds of two responding Snipes drumming in a courtship display, filled the dark sky. A reminder that the breeding season has commenced and out of the darkness we have the brighter, warmer days to look forward to.