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  • Writer's pictureHarris Brooker

February Has Arrived in the Cairngorms

The action has kept going at Speyside Wildlife’s Evening Wildlife Watching Hide. The days are getting longer and from the 4th February we’ll be starting our watches at 6:30pm instead of 6:00pm - a sure sign spring is on the way as the nights start to get lighter!

There are three Badgers in this image feeding together on a large platform surrounded by needle leaf litter, a tree trunk to the left with the bottom half of a bird feeder visible. A log wall is at the back.
Three Badgers Feeding (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

The Badgers are still arriving and enjoying their food - though now in February there’s an extra twist as Badgers start mating at this time of year. Two Badgers that I saw feeding together then began to behave differently, the male made an approach to the female which she shied away from. This happened at least once more before they went off into the trees to get some privacy - this is a feature of Badger courtship.

The gestation period is about forty nine days. They have two mating periods - the first between January and May and another from August to September, although they can do so at almost any month of the year. In the case of the former, February and March account for most of them.

There are three Badgers in this image. This is a zoomed out image showing them in relation to a tree trunk on their left with a long bird feeder hanging from it. The Badgers themselves are on a large platform surrounded by needle leaf litter. There is a log wall at the back.
Three Badgers Feeding (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

Only the dominant male and female are allowed to breed, if any other of the subordinate females wanted to breed they would have to leave their family group and find another. Though they are typically allowed to stay to help raise the breeding pair’s cubs.

This is a zoomed in image of three Badgers feeding together.  They are surrounded by logs and needle leaf litter. The log wall at the back is behind them.
Three Badgers Feeding (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

The Pine Marten has been present too, the male has been coming in to feed on the sultanas and peanuts left out for it. On one occasion when he had finished he went along the log bridge, paused to investigate an apple laid out of the birds, ignored it, descended to the ground almost coming right below the hide. Then it disappeared over the edge of the platform.

In terms of breeding, the male and female would be living their separate lives, as they would for most of the year. Any mating would have taken place in July or August with births typically expected the following spring. Like Badgers, Pine Martens can use delayed implantation to delay births to this time.

This is a zoomed out image of a male Pine Marten feeding on peanuts and sultanas laid out for it on a suspended platform. This platform is connected by two log bridges. One in the background is connected to a pair of Lawson's Cypress trees. To its right are more tree trunks and branches.
Pine Marten on Platform (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)
This is a zoomed in image of a male Pine Marten on a suspended platform feeding on sultanas and peanuts laid in front of it. There are tree branches in the background.
Male Pine Marten (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

Barn Owls have also been heard during this time, their hissing calls are especially audible and Tawny Owls are hooting nearby too. Wood Mice are still dashing for peanuts, forever afraid of those predators from above.

If you would like your chance to see our nocturnal visitors click here and book your place to see our local evening wildlife.

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