The animals are beginning to change in appearance as the nights grow darker and the weather colder. Both the Badgers and Pine Martens are transforming into their winter coats. For the Badgers, this transformation changes the shape of the animal as the winter coat appears as they grow in more short and lighter underfur hairs that effectively fluff up and lighten the coat. The Badgers begin to look much more ‘barrel’ like in shape as their coats take on a fuller appearance providing them with the necessary warmth for the upcoming winter.
The Pine Marten is also undergoing this necessary change to their coats to combat the cold. It has been our youngest female that has been visiting the most regularly over the past few weeks. For a Pine Marten, the winter coat takes on a much more fluffy semblance in comparison to their sleek summer fur. Not only does the texture and thickness of the coat change but the colour as well. In summer the Pine Martens are a deep chocolate brown colour, whereas, through the colder winter months they become much more grey/brown like in appearance. Watching the younger female as she enters the hide, you might notice patches of fluffier grey fur appearing across the back of her head and along her body. These patches contrast to the chocolate brown hair found on her face and legs. Furthermore, her long tail has become particularly bushy and fluffy and this will serve her well as on the coldest of nights she can wrap her fluffy tail around herself for extra warmth.
The nights becoming darker earlier has affected the arrival time of the nocturnal mammals. The Pine Martens have been popping into the hide a lot earlier into the evening - and if we are lucky - often while there are still a few Badgers foraging below. Our younger female Pine Marten has been more active with the surrounding forest when she comes in. Often she will use the trees surrounding the platform to climb in and out of the area, sometimes even perching in the branches above and looking down into the area. This provides guests with the great opportunity to observe how a Pine Marten climbs as it is very much an agile and thoughtful task.
The dynamic of the Badger clan has been undergoing some changes that have been affecting the behaviour of the members within the group. The gender balance of the clan at present is 'boar heavy' with the clan being made up of five males and only two females. This is not ideal for the group, as if we were to lose our females there is a chance that the boars would move off and the clan would dissolve. Hopefully, we shall have brand new cubs next February/ March time which will help to rebalance the dynamic of the group.
Across the garden, we see evidence of winters approach. Leaves and pine needles litter the floor turning the area yellow and gold. The last of the dragonflies have disappeared and the final Crocus flowers are making a bold appearance.
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