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  • Writer's pictureHarris Brooker

March 2024 Evening Mammal Hide Update

Badger Sightings

The Badgers continue to come in and feed at our hide near Aviemore, now that the winter has passed it is warmer and that they have no further reason to stay underground like they did before. One night one of the big males came in and at first he announced his presence by his loud munching of peanuts. We put a small amount of peanuts next to the microphone to make sure that the sound is heard by the guests. It caused tremendous excitement, with the guests leaning over to try and see it. Because the microphone is a box on the front of the hide it can’t be seen by anyone inside it. So, the Badger went unseen for the first few minutes, and then he walked away from the wall and into view, showing his bulk and black and white face. The face itself, thickset, indicating it was likely to be a male. It went over to a log with a stash of peanuts inside and flipped it over, with his surprisingly strength.

In this zoomed in image there is a Badger foraging with a log in front of it and a tree next to it.
Badger (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

In this zoomed out image there is a Badger foraging surrounded by logs and pine needles.
Badger (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

In this zoomed in image there is a Badger foraging next to a post with pine needles all around.
Badger (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

Then after a while of feeding he left and a second appeared - looking like another male. When he left, in came a female, which after she had finished feeding, she amazed the guests by standing on top of the wooden wall of the platform, with one guest comparing her to a ballerina, before she  trotted away into the undergrowth.

Pine Marten Sightings

Both Pine Martens have been visiting and continue to enjoy the food laid out for them. One night a guest gave a start when she thought she spotted one in the treetops to the left of the platform. It disappeared for while until it was seen descending the canopy on the right before coming to feed on the platform -it was looking wary. The female is the wariest of the two Pine Martens that regularly feed here and wherever she looks for a prolonged period of time, is an indicator it might not be alone. Sure enough, the female’s stare betrayed the presence of a Badger coming out of the undergrowth. The female Pine Marten, by now used to the Badgers being there, carried on feeding. It was fascinating to see her eat, the way the top of her head flex with every bite, showing quite vividly the sagittal crest at work. This curious feature of the skull is the muscle anchor and gives a Pine Marten its bite force.

In this zoomed out image there is a Pine Marten on a platform feeding with branches and trees roundabout it.
Pine Marten (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

In this zoomed in image there is a Pine Marten feeding on a platform.
Pine Marten (Photo Credit: Harris Brooker)

Every time it lifted its head to swallow some food, , you could see its single brown spot on her bib. This feature identifies this particular individual. The male has three brown spots together with a fourth at the bottom. It’s not a feature used to separate male and female Pine Martens in general though.

There was one night with an exclusive group in which the male came dashing over from the left, on the ground of all places. A place he doesn’t usually come from. He then fed on the platform and after he had finished he proceeded to feed on the ground with three other Badgers nearby. He had previously done so with one Badger nearby but not three. That perhaps demonstrated how much his confidence has come on over the years. The female Pine Marten has yet to be seen doing the same. You never know, it might happen one day.

Other Wildlife Sightings

Wood Mice are still showing and are likely to become more active as the year progresses. Tawny Owls have been heard and Woodcock are now roding over the forest, uttering their wispy calls as they establish their territories for the year. Common Snipe are making their ‘Chuckta-chuckta-chuckta’ calls and the first Bank Vole that I’ve seen in weeks made an appearance one night.

The Scottish Wildcat has been elusive of late, but anecdotal reports from other people living on the property say that it is still present. What it will do as the year progresses is still a mystery and we are excited to find out!

If you would like to book your chance to see our nocturnal visitors head over to:

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