We have had an exciting new arrival at the Speyside Wildlife Hide this month. A female Pine Marten with a perfectly placed brown spot in the center of her bib made an appearance very early one evening. She arrived so early into the Hide that there were still members of the Badger clan moving around and foraging beneath her. As she climbed into the area and made her way across the pole she very cautiously observed the Badgers foraging below her and we were able to get a clear view of her bib. This was when we noticed with excitement that she was in fact a new arrival into the Hide as her bib markings did not match any of the other recorded individuals.
The markings that are present on the Pine Martens peachy-creamy bib are unique to the individual and we use these markings to tell the different individuals apart. The bib on a Scottish Pine Marten starts a few centimeters below their lip and reaches down the throat and underneath the chest area. The markings that can be found on the bib vary in pattern, size, and distribution and can appear as spots, patches, or fingers of brown fur. This individual has a particularly distinct brown spot right at the center of her bib.
This week the Badgers have often been arriving into the Hide with very muddy snouts. The milder weather and rainfall that we have been experiencing in the Cairngorms make ideal conditions for foraging for earthworms. These muddy-nosed clan members have most likely been out digging for worms before arriving into the Hide and it raises the question; where does the clan go throughout the night? Looking for field signs of Badger activity when you are out and about in nature is a great way to bring a focus to your walk as well as giving you a glimpse at how the Badgers like to move around their environment during the night.
Anatomically Badgers are built to move low to the ground. As a result of carrying their bodies close to the ground, they create well-worn paths through vegetation that is clearly visible to the eye. Because Badgers will often use the same routes during the night to visit optimum foraging patches, these paths become especially well-worn and prominent. If you were to follow a Badger track you may come across a paw print on soft soil or a hair trapped on the rough bark of a branch hanging over the track. Snuffle marks, where the grass or soil has been disturbed, are also a good clue that a Badger has been foraging in the area. Keeping an eye out for any of these signs that a Badger might leave behind will give you a greater understanding and insight into the habits of these nocturnal creatures.
If you are able to visit us in the Cairngorms, visit our website for details on how to book a night at the hide.