First up, I’d like to draw your attention to a guest blog I did on James’ blog about my inspirations that got me to where I am now! Have a read through his other posts too as they are all good reads, some more information heavy than others!
After thinking I’d finished my report, and finding I hadn’t, and re-doing it, then having to re-do it again… and one more time for good measure, I finally managed to get outdoors. Unfortunately it was already past three o’clock so I was either going to be out late or I was going to be out for a short amount of time.
Turned out to be the former as you can’t really let me outdoors and expect me to be back within 3 hours.
A few wee things were seen before leaving campus…
And once off campus I headed towards Elrick Hill, where I’d been on Wednesday clearing flipping Rhodedendron. A near impossible job. I think we’re going back up next Wednesday to try to get rid of the rest of it. I mean look at this, ridiculous.
Anyway, I was heading to Elrick as I’d been informed of another Badger sett that is pretty easy to find. I was interested to see how close it was to the one I found in West Woods and also to compare the size so as to build up an idea as to what a “large” sett is and what a “relatively small” sett is. On my way I forgot to take a picture of a Stonecrop that is growing on a stone dyke next to the road, and found what I think is Peltigera membranacea (a dog lichen) due to the large red apothecia.
Anyway, down the wee track to the carpark by Elrick Hill then in an unspecified direction and I found the sett pretty easily! It was hard to miss due to the huge spoil heap next to two holes just below a large willow, which actually had some Green Yoke-moss Zygodon viridissimus on it. Lovely.
I started taking my usual pictures of the holes with my white 15cm ruler next to them. One thing I found slightly strange was the fact that there were no Badger tracks in the soil on the spoil heap. I would’ve thought there’d be at least a few but perhaps due to the freezing temperatures they had faded. As I backed away from the two holes, I spotted another, and then another, and… well in the end I’d found eight different holes, seven of them all pretty close to each other but one of them was about 10m away from the rest. Does it lead into the same sett? Is it used as much as the others? It looked pretty well used with dirt having been scraped out recently. Speaking of distance, this sett is 1.07km away from the one in West Woods. Referring back that pdf, I can see that… nope, it’s not letting me access the pdf so I’m on the Forestry Commision (England) website. They say that Badgers can have a territory size of 30 hectares to 150 hectares, depending on the availability of food.
Right, I’ve had a read (here and here), so I’m going to summarise my thoughts now. The Elrick Hill sett (6 holes) is a main sett with 1 annexe sett (1 hole 10m away from the rest). The West Woods sett is an outlier sett of some sort… possibly. West Woods sett has some very clear paths leading to it and away from it, and is over a kilometre from the Elrick Hill sett. If these setts both belong to the same “cete” of Badgers then the territory may look a little like this: 76 hectares
But if they are separate then they both need cover (woodland) and sufficient feeding areas so the Elrick Hill Badgers would maybe spread further west, and the West Woods Badgers further on to the farmland and golf course to the east, like so: West Woods; 73 hectares. Elrick Hill; 67 hectares.
It’d be nice if those lined up… Anyway, these are completely theoretical just to sort of help gauge the situation with the setts and what seems most likely. I suspect the second idea is more likely as both setts look like they’re in use, and the little pinch point between both of them looks like a likely place for the territories to border each other. Plus, I found Badger tracks towards the north end of the West Woods hypothetical territory so I suspect the West Woods sett has its territory spreading north.
Right, enough theorising. Here’s the pics of the various Badger holes at the Elrick sett, some obviously in use, some less so. (Hover over them to see if in use or not)
After a wee nosey around I decided that I’d stakeout the sett to see if I could get Meles meles on the mammal year list. Alas, I did not… But I had a very close encounter with 2 Roe Deer who must’ve smelt me (my deodorant, not me of course) and bolted after getting within about 5 metres of me! A Woodcock flew over towards Brimmond Hill, a Red Grouse called from the top of Elrick behind me, and a Red Fox plodded along the path ahead of me after I’d stood up.
The Badgers never did show and I ended up getting as close to hypothermia as I think I’ve ever been. I’ll go back another night with a couple more layers and a balaclava to keep the snow out of my face! The walk home wasn’t all bad, with Tawny Owls calling on campus and the Oystercatchers (at least 3 of which have returned to rooftops around halls) making their usual racket.
I’m going to keep you updated on the sett-uation (ha…) with the Badgers as the story develops, and I gather more information as to the whereabouts of the Badgers and hopefully learn a bit about the biology of those wonderful mustelids.
I’ll leave you with that. Not sure what I’m doing over the weekend, probably bothering some more Badgers.