Our local Badgers
Winter is a quieter time at the hide for Badgers. Stormy and cold weather can sometimes keep them at bay and when they do come, it can be later in the evenings. They arrive with a look of nonchalance, reinforced by their waddling gait, pausing periodically to check all is well. They then eat quickly, with some of the nuts left untouched. This is not like their behaviour at other times of the year, when they often come as a family group and would leave almost nothing behind - now is different, but this will change as the weather improves.
Pine Marten sightings
Pine Martens however like to visit at this time of year because of the scarcity of food elsewhere. Both the male and the female have been visiting in January, each exhibiting their hyperactive nervousness, but whatever their fears may be, they come anyway and enjoy the food. Now and then they will get something stuck in their teeth and they use both paws to try and get it out, a behaviour that has been referred to as ‘flossing’.
There have been several nights in the last month where the Pine Marten has fed on the ground, hopping along, enjoying the absence of the Badgers, which usually confines them to feeding on the raised platforms. Even if the Badgers aren’t there, the Martens keep one eye on their surroundings, just in case. Then when they’ve finished, they run along the paths normally used by the Badgers and disappear.
Other wildlife visiting the hide
There has also been the occasional Bank Vole and Wood Mouse dashing with lightning speed as they try to grab peanuts whilst spending as minimal time in the open as possible. We once had a Tawny Owl fly across the platform, just a flash of brown and silvery white before it disappeared. That was one of only three times I’ve had a Tawny Owl from the hide so far, the other two being from last year.
And finally… a new animal has appeared!
In the last few weeks, we’ve had an extraordinary new visitor; an animal that has caused immense excitement for those who have seen it. We have been visited by a Scottish Wildcat. It’s a male, part of a release project that took place last summer, conducted by Saving Wildcats, led by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. They released 19 Wildcats into the Cairngorms, one of which is regularly seen at the hide. With a second one that has been seen nearby occasionally.
On one night it was seen as we were walking down the track. On another it appeared and stayed on the edge of the light for a while, giving everyone good views. Wildcats can be mistaken for a large domestic cat, but this one has a box on the front of its collar, which is actually its GPS-radio transmitter.
One evening I sensed something was watching me and when I looked up the Scottish Wildcat was watching me from around the side of the hide. It stared at me beadily, not perturbed at all. It stood there for a while, then it disappeared and emerged round the other side of the hide and watched me from there, before jumping up onto the large platform in front of hide. It seemed to be very comfortable visiting the hide.
If you would like to book your chance to see our nocturnal visitors head over to our website.
Saving Wildcats is led by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland in collaboration with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Norden’s Ark, Consejería de Sostenibilidad, Medio Ambiente y Economía Azul de la Junta de Andalucía and with releases being conducted with the support of Cairngorms Connect. Saving Wildcats is supported by the LIFE programme of the European Union.