New Things

It’s been a wee whiley since I blogged and I’ve had a few new experiences over the past week or so.

First up, Badgers. I found my first Badger Meles meles tracks in West Woods, my usual haunt when not working or on campus. I found this print whilst staring at the ground hoping for signs of Pine Martens but found Badger instead.

The four toes in a line are clearly visible in pic numero uno, the fifth toe at the side of the main pad not so obvious. The long digging claws in the front paws can be clearly seen in the second pic, where the back paw has gone in the same spot as the front paw did, typical for Badger tracks.

A couple of days later I was out with one of my coursemates as he’d bought a nice new camera and wanted to try it out somewhere. I took him to West Woods and we accidentally found more Badger tracks. I followed these tracks the next day…

P1180090
Over a wee stream…

… along a few trails clearly made with no intention of being walked along my humans, and to an embankment where a lot of excavation had clearly been carried out by Badgers and Rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus I think.

The pic I’ve captioned as too small for Badger I suspect is actually Rabbit as Badger sett entrances are typically 20cm wide I’ve been told. The top-left pic shows the large spoil heap of sandy soil (easier to dig in!) that is characteristic of a Badger sett.

After the discovery of the set I found multiple trails leading off in different directions, one towards the golf course where I found Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus tracks as well as some possible Red Fox Vulpes vulpes tracks, quite faded so might’ve just been some funny shapes in the mud!

One path I followed actually resulted in me getting quite a fright as a Woodcock Scolopax rusticola sprung up from where it must’ve been resting and flew off, but it also drew my attention to what appears to be another entrance to the sett, about 8 metres from the entrance I first found.

P1180108

There’s two things I took from this little section of my amble about in the woods. Firstly, I found that Woodcock must be doing better in Aberdeenshire than my home county of Lothian because I went on to flush another 2 elsewhere in West Woods. Add that to the one I saw up Brimmond Hill a week ago and that’s 4 I’ve seen in a week and a bit. I’ve only ever seen 3 Woodcock before these ones and those were all around Gladhouse Reservoir. Hopefully I’ll maybe flush one from the woods on campus for a Patchwork Challenge 2016 tick! Here’s all that was left by one of the birds…

P1180141
Woodcock wee

Secondly, Badger setts are much larger than I thought they were if both of the entrances I found lead into the same tunnel system! I’m going to have a quick browse of the interwebz to see what I can find…

Well, this pdf by badger.org.uk is pretty informative! I’ve picked out the fact that there are different types of setts that have different purposes. I can’t really tell what type of sett this is as I haven’t properly checked it out. I don’t know how often it is used or how many entrances there are, although I do know how big that spoil heap is (pretty hefty amount of dirt there) and I can see that there are pretty obvious paths leading away from and towards the sett, perhaps meaning this sett is a main sett, occupied continuously and used for breeding purposes. When I get my act together and apply for funding for new trail cameras then perhaps we’ll find out how well used it is!

Another thing that took my interest was the fact that I found another set of Badger tracks 430m away from where I’d found the sett. Having done a bit of reading, I now know that male Badgers (the boar) will patrol their territories during the breeding season (Feb-Mar) scent marking and getting rid of any intruding boars. This might be the male that I’ve tracked, but at the same time it may just be a Badger that’s foraging in a different area.

Badgers, interesting mammals! In truth, I wasn’t looking for Badgers on any of the trips in which I came across signs of them. As I already mentioned, I was looking for Pine Marten, but I was also hoping I might find signs of Water Vole along one of the many burns in West Woods. No luck, but I think I’ll need to have a read up about their habitat requirements. Trail cameras will also help me in my quest to see my third vole species of the UK.

 

How awesome are mammals? Majority are difficult to see, nocturnal (or at least crepuscular, there’s a word for you to Google) but are still so interesting. Or at least they are to me. But so are insects…

One true bug I found whilst tracking was this Water Cricket Velia caprai.

VC

I also attended a Bumblebee Conservation Trust volunteer event where I learnt about how to become a volunteer for BBCT. It’s something I’ll be following up by possibly taking people out on organised Bumblebee walks, just to raise awareness of the troubles bees are facing and the crucial part they play in the ecosystem and in our lives as well! This event has also, once again, given me the urge to buy another field guide. Steven Falk and Richard Lewington’s Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland looks like it would fit very nicely in amongst the field guides I already have… Hm…

To finish off, a liverwort and a couple mosses that I’ve IDed recently…

I tend to pick up about six or seven species each time I’m out, identify 4 of them and now I have a backlog of mosses to work through. I’m getting there though!

Well, that’s 1000 words now so I’ll stop now before I start to bore you! But I’ll just let you know that I have some exciting news (well, exciting for me) that will be revealed some time soon!

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New Things

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