Within the clan, our two younger boars are steadily approaching full maturation as they head towards their second year. Although they appear fully grown- when compared to our older boars- they will still need to develop more muscle around the top of the head and across the back before they are able to compete in size. On the cusp of adulthood, the behaviour between these two young males has been changing. Often, these two brothers have been challenging one another at the hide which can lead to dramatic and tense moments.
These challenges usually begin with both boars freezing still and facing one another. Their bodies are tense, their heads held upright and they lock into eye contact with one another. This is a good display of the power of body language as a tool of communication between different animals that belong to the same social groups. The Badgers are able to assess the scenario that may unfold simply by observing one another’s stance. They will sometimes drop their heads down low before raising them slowly up while mimicking and mirroring one another so as to not break their stance or eye contact. Sometimes, the tension breaks and they casually turn away to resume feeding. If it is not broken, these standoffs can progress into a quick and loud fight that will settle the dispute. This behaviour is important for the males as it helps them to settle and assert their position within the clan's hierarchy. Having established social positions within the clan is central to its functionality, although these positions are frequently subject to change.
We have also had the surprising reappearance of one of our younger female Pine Martens into the hide. It has been our male that has been visiting most frequently and so it was a lovely surprise to see her pop up from the tree and climb in. Not only are her bib markings very different from our other visiting Pine Martens (a single spot in the centre) but she also exhibits very different behaviour to the male. She appears much more anxious and less confident when moving around the area, often pausing to check and assess any threats. She has a different climbing style and unlike the Male- who exits down the tree in a slinky manner gracefully gripping hold of the trunk- she carefully hops between the different branches one at a time as she descends into the night.
Young Female Pine Marten
Fungi are an incredibly important participant in the life cycle of the forest floor and recently there has been a delightful appearance of more and more mushrooms in numerous colours, shapes and sizes! The question is whether or not these fungi make a tasty addition to the Badgers Diet? Although the Badgers will always favour the earthworm, and their territories are designed to utilise space where they can find this food source, the Badgers are omnivorous and enjoy a wide range of different food types. When we suffer from droughts and earthworms can become scarce and harder to obtain they can come to rely on other sources of food to supplement their daily intake such as small mammals, eggs, insects, fruits, cereals and fungi! Keep an eye out on your walks, these newly emerged shrooms will sometimes show evidence of having being nibbled by a hungry Badger.
Mushrooms in the Cairngorms
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