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  • Writer's pictureHarris Brooker

Hide Update February 2024

Badgers


A trickle of normality is returning following the end of winter at our hide near Aviemore in the Cairngorms. The Badgers have appeared most nights, sometimes with up to three individuals present. One night a Badger emerged from the undergrowth, hugged the wall, looking wary and lifting its head for a moment as if wondering whether it was alone. It then emerged to feed, munching away at the peanuts, before a second and a third appeared, the most I’ve seen together for a while. They fed nonchalantly, before moving off into the bushes. One left on the left-hand path and because it was moving quickly, did it with a bouncing gait that is always funny to watch, especially when you’re seeing it from behind.


In this picture are two Badgers feeding whilst being surrounded by logs and leaf litter
Badgers (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)


In this image is a Badger with its head raised to its right, pausing from feeding. There is a log nearby.
Badger (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)



In this image are two Badgers feeding together on peanuts with a log in front them.
Badgers (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

Another night a Badger came in to feed and when it heard something it lifted its neck up, giving a better impression of its height than you would otherwise get when it's got its nose to the ground foraging. That’s when its size becomes apparent. This one was listening for signs that other Badgers might be joining it, or maybe it had heard something else. Many things can peak a Badger’s wariness when feeding here. When it left it did the same thing again, lifting its neck up and seen from behind somehow made it look more imposing. Then it trotted away.



Pine Martens


Both the male and female have been coming in regularly, sometimes draping their long cat-like tails over the platform as they feed. One night the male Pine Marten completely bucked the trend and fed on the ground next to a Badger. The Pine Martens tend stay on their platform normally, especially when the Badgers are there.


In this zoomed out image there is a Pine Marten feeding on a platform full of moss with trees and branches in the background.
Pine Marten (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)


In this zoomed out image a Pine Marten is feeding on a platform with its tail draped over the side, showing it in relation to the logs and trees roundabout it.
Pine Marten (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)


In this image a Pine Marten is feeding on a platform with some branches in the background.
Pine Marten (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

On a different night however, their normal relations seemed to reestablish themselves. The male fed on the ground again, but unlike the Badger, it can’t just relax and feed in peace, because being smaller than the Badgers means it has no chance of beating one in a fight, so when it saw a Badger coming, it fled. It jumped onto the back of the wall, watching the Badger again and then disappeared down a pair of trees. The Badger, as usual, seemed oblivious to it.


On a different night the female Pine Marten wouldn’t sit still at all and wagged its tail, which is what she does when nervous and then disappeared into the treetops. The next paragraph goes into more detail as to what made that happen...



Scottish Wildcat


This visitor to the hide is giving guests super views of a new animal. One evening we were walking to the hide and saw it crouched, shining its yellow eyes back at us, before it moved away. We kept looking and managed to see the Wildcat a second time, closer than before. Everyone got a great look at it before it disappeared.


During February we have had one of the most productive nights at the hide that I’ve ever known. It started with the female Pine Marten coming in and refusing to settle down, wagging her tail all the time. We struggled to figure out why she would be doing this, as she used to do it for the Badgers but over time stopped. I looked down onto the ground in front of the platform and saw the Wildcat looking right up at it. The Pine Marten by this stage had taken refuge in the treetops on the thinner branches that the Wildcat wouldn’t have been able to get to, but the Wildcat jumped up into the lower branches next to the platform. A guest took a picture of it half in half out of the darkness, which created the effect of one eye glowing. The Wildcat, realising it had no hope of catching the Pine Marten descended and disappeared.


In this image there is a Scottish Wildcat peering over a low wall with some plants in front of it.
Scottish Wildcat (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)


In this zoomed in image there is a Scottish Wildcat looking ahead with its stripy body side on.
Scottish Wildcat (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)


In this image there is a Scottish Wildcat looking toward the camera surrounded by crocuses and snowdrops.
Scottish Wildcat (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

Hopefully there’ll be many more encounters like this.



Other Wildlife


Wood Mice and Bank Voles are seen dashing around looking for peanuts, but only briefly. Every night that we’ve seen them so far, they’ve disappeared as quickly as they emerged. The weather is still cold for them but hopefully as spring comes, they’ll stay out for longer. Tawny Owls are still hooting as well, on several nights we heard a male hooting to defend its territory.


If you would like to visit our Evening Wildlife Watching Hide go to: http://bit.ly/sw_EWW to book your place.

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