The action has kept going at Speyside Wildlife’s Evening Wildlife Watching Hide. We’ve had a Pine Marten visiting four nights in a row, usually it’s the male but we have also been seeing the female.
It makes everybody’s heart stop when the Pine Martens appear. For many visitors, especially those from down south this what they come to the hide for. They typically come from below a pair of Lawson’s Cypress trees. Then run along one of the logs until they reach the platform, where they’ll sit and munch away at the sultanas laid out for them. All the while they’re keeping their ears pricked for the sound of danger. Visitors often ask if the Badgers put them off and the answer to that is no, but they seem to prefer coming at a later time when Badgers are less likely to be around. Then when they’ve finished, they bound away over the log bridge and back down the Lawson’s Cypresses.
One night though something unusual was witnessed - when the female Pine Marten came, it uttered a strange huffing sound when reacting to the domestic cat that lives on site (our microphones picked up the sound) - an alarm call. It was bizarre to hear. They can make a 'tik-tok' noise when alarmed and the female might wail when mating, but are otherwise not very vocal.
The Badgers have been coming in every night, feeding happily with each other. They still squabble and climb on the back wall of the platform. We’ve recently given them extra logs and wood chippings which must have given them a surprise when they first saw it.
One night all 11 Badgers came to the hide at once and that was something we’d never seen before. The scene just looked complete with them all there. The cubs were not on their best behaviour that night and they kept barging in to feed, even pushing against the body’s of the adults to get first try at tipping over the birch log, which is a log that I put a stash of peanuts in the middle. Plenty of snarls and growls were exchanged, which were a surprise to some of the guests who otherwise thought they were cute and peaceful.
Eventually they began to go their separate ways. It’s ironic that Badgers live in family groups but otherwise like to do things individually. There’s no co-ordination between individuals the way you would expect from other pack animals like Wolves. But their family structure is what helps them survive. Not that they have this worry in Britain but in Europe, their family units help repel predators like bears, wolves, Lynx and Wolverines, which could take their cubs. It is also the reason for their facial stripes, a kind of 'war paint' to remind predators not to treat them lightly.
We are still getting Wood Mice, Bank Voles and the occasional Red Squirrel. There are Coal Tits, Woodpigeons, Blue Tits and Great Tits still visiting the feeders. But as autumn is coming in, the nights are getting darker earlier and when the skies are clear the guests have been treated to starry nights, with the Milky Way and Venus being visible. The constellations in the night sky also test the guest's powers of imagination, such as Ursa Major, the Great Bear, part of it is also known as the Plough. Ursa Minor, the Little Bear containing Polaris or the North Star amongst others.
If you would like your chance to see our nocturnal visitors head to: https://www.speysidewildlife.co.uk/Holidays.aspx?location=evening and book your place today.