I was pleased to be given the opportunity to guide our Evening Mammal Hide again during this past week. The hide gives us the chance to see wildlife up close in the Cairngorms without disturbing it, whilst we sit inside our large hide, protected from midges and the weather.
It makes me think of my first attempt to see Badgers elsewhere years ago, which was very different! I was keen to try and see Badgers close enough to photograph them, so I found an expert who agreed to take me out one evening. He had a night scope and viewed them from near the top of a small hill. I wore camouflage clothing and even put on camo face paint then lay down on the ground near a path - the midges certainly saw me and it was torture keeping still for hours while they bit me! I lay there all evening tensely waiting for the Badgers, but did not know that the gentle breeze had changed direction and blew my scent towards them. So the Badgers sensibly took a different path and I never saw a single one!
At the end of the evening I met up with the guide and he explained what had happened - then he complimented me on being able to keep still for so long, “You were so still that a bird of prey landed in the tree above you and plucked its prey.” No, I did not see that either, but there were still a few feathers stuck to my clothes on the back of my coat and trousers to prove it had really happened.
These days I prefer to do my Badger watching from the comfort of our hide and during the past week our local Badger clan have visited regularly - they are very good time keepers! The larger, older male has been arriving a little after the main group and it is interesting to watch how they react on his arrival - always a little wary until he settles down to feed. The other advantage of the hide being that we have the chance to see other wildlife too, especially Pine Marten. They are not as routine driven as the Badgers, but they are beautiful creatures and it is a special treat to see them. One evening we had just decided to leave and had put our coats on, when the female Pine Marten quietly arrived. We just had to freeze and wait, until she settled down to feed. She stayed long enough that we all had fantastic views of her, everyone was awed and delighted.
During the evenings we have also seen Great-spotted Woodpecker, Wood Mice, Roe Deer and also heard Snipe overhead.
You can find out more information about our Evening Mammal Hide here and make bookings.
Pine Marten (Peter Casebow)