As the nights are beginning to draw in the forest floor has become carpeted with fallen curled orange leaves. The clan are beginning to arrive a little earlier in the evening. As the Badgers approach the hide they often come in at a trotting gait, rustling through the crisp leaves as they bound up the hill towards us. As they travel they hold their head up high to keep a keen eye on their surroundings and showing off their bright inquisitive eyes. Later in the evening, they will drop their heads low to the ground as they snuffle at the earth foraging for food.
Guests often enjoy watching the Badger’s methodical approach to foraging throughout the hide area. As they forage, the Badgers will hang their head low to the ground and swing their snout back and forth in order to catch the scent of tasty peanuts. As they sweep the area it becomes apparent that this mammal cannot help but leave a messy trail behind them as they search for food. They are solely ground-dwelling mammals and live completely on or under the earth. Furthermore, their omnivorous diet is made up of things that they can forage from the forest floor and so it is with this part of the ecosystem that they come to have the most impact upon. Because of their lifestyles, the Badgers are anatomically designed to move low to the ground. They have short thick legs, powerful rounded claws, a flexible long snout, and an excessive urge to dig. As they move through their territory at night they disturbance the forest floor as they explore and these field signs can tell you the story of what they have been up to that evening.
Badgers spend a lot of time digging for earthworms as this makes up the biggest part of their diet. They are also prone to digging for insects and grubs and can sometimes use their powerful claws for breaking apart rotting tree stumps and tipping over heavy stones and rocks. As you explore the garden around the hide and across the road to Inshriach Woods it doesn’t take long to come across digging marks left behind by the Badgers. This disturbance of the soil is messy but it has positive benefits to the wider eco-system. As the Badger digs for the earthworms that lurk below the surface they will turn over fresh patches of soil that then become ideal spaces for plant species to colonise. Furthermore, the clan will never stop creating new sett holes and will continuously dig while they live in an area. By making an excess of underground chambers many of these subsidiary holes are left unused and so other species of mammals have the opportunity to move in such as Rabbits, Fox, and Mice.
Through the month of August, wild berries such as Brambles and Blaeberries have fully ripened and the fruits hang heavy on their branches. Therefore, our visiting Pine Martens have been less frequent as they are spoilt for choice with the abundance of berries. However, as we approach the colder months we are beginning to see more and more of this elusive creature as finding food becomes a little more challenging.
As the nights are beginning to darken we have also had the joy of witnessing Bats flying into the hide. These fast fliers explode into the viewing area and will rapidly pluck an unsuspecting Moth who has been lingering close by to our hide’s lights. Pipistrelle is the species of Bat that is most commonly found visiting the hide. They are fast, nimble, and dynamic fliers with the ability to twist and turn at an incredible speed. After an evening at the hide, guests can often encounter the long-drawn call of a Tawny owl filling the night sky above as we walk back up through the garden in the cool evening light.
To join us on a dark and starry night in watching our native nocturnal mammals please book through our website.