Urban Badgers

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I never did get the shot I really wanted from this mini project. One of the bat researchers I work with quite often called me to tell me about a house he had just surveyed where the house owner feeds badgers and foxes in his garden. And they come and feed together. And sure enough, when I visited to check it out I was proudly shown a whole series of trail cam videos of badgers and foxes, badgers and cats and cats and foxes. These videos were shot over a period of a couple of years though. With expectations running high I set up a camera trap in the area where the food is put out. Initially I wanted to set up with the house in the background to give more of an urban feel to the photos but it just wasn’t possible to do that, light it the way I wanted and provide clear access for the critters which all seem to come from different directions. So I set up with the garden shed in background and lit the interior with a gelled flash. I got a badger on the first night which enabled fine tuning of the lighting and camera position and then I was all set for endless multi-species action. Alas it was not to be. You never quite know how foxes are going to react to multi-flash set ups. Some, urban foxes in particular, are often very easy going about stuff appearing in their environment whereas rural foxes are normally extremely wary – of the flashes, the camera noise, the physical presence of the equipment or a combination of all the above. Badgers rarely care. In the couple of weeks the camera was in place I only got two shots of a (nervous-looking) fox. Many badger photos though, of several different individuals, and hundreds, literally hundreds of photos of the neighbourhood cats including quite a few of cats feeding quite happily with badgers albeit at a respectful distance. From what I can tell from the images, the cat was more relaxed about this than Brock.

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Stocking up for Winter

Come October and the voles are stocking up the larder for winter. A favourite for this are yellow flag seed pods. When stored in underground burrows I guess they last really well, the outer skin protecting the multiple seeds inside. I had noticed that whenever a vole would find an intact pod they always take it underground whereas a split pod would sometimes be eaten straight away. The yellow flag in the corner of the walled area had produced a nice crop of seeds high up in the plant. I knew the voles would get them eventually as they fell off but I wanted to photograph the process, so I lowered one of the bunches to just within reach.  The breeding female from this territory, once she found them, took every one back to her main burrow under the wall. And she did this all in one operation and didn’t stop until she knew she had the lot, coming back a couple of times to check there were none left.