Caught on camera

It’s dark in the wood at night, it’s hard to see what is going on. We try to do a bit of late night sneaking about, but to help us we put up camera traps in the hope that they would give us a little window into the world of darkness.  Over the last couple of years it’s been exciting to see what the cameras have recorded, and after last week’s post I thought maybe it would be good to share some of these photos.  I’ll start with the badgers as they are the animals we have spent most time in real contact with; as the nights are so short at the moment, their comings and goings spill into daylight hours, so some of the photos aren’t even night vision.

The following five photos were the first glimpses we had of the new cubs up at the main sett this year – they stay close to the sett and their parents in the first few weeks.

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This early in the year, the cubs are easy to spot as they are so much smaller than their parents.
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The families spend a lot of time around the sett entrance (there is only one of this year’s cubs in shot in this photograph). The sett appears to be shared, at least part of the time, by various mothers and cubs – they will all be related however.
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Badgers and bluebells!
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There are four cubs above ground here and you can see three of the sett entrances in shot – one in the background with the mum and cub emerging, one to the left of the photo and the other bottom right.
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This badger ball is made up of five, possibly six cubs, surrounding one female. This female is the one who is most loyal to this sett; on a night when there is only one mother around, it will be her.  I think of her as ‘Ginny’ (see later) and she is the most nervous/suspicious of the badgers.  She will be the last one to stop sniffing the air and settle down for a good scratch.

By May, it is clear that we have had a bumper badger cub year:

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This is Ginny and the two cubs that we think are hers – they are still so fluffy!
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Somehow Ginny seems to end up babysitting more than just her own cubs.
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Another badger has turned up to help with babysitting duty; it could be Dad, but I think this is another female. Dad doesn’t tend to hang around if there’s company.
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Here are nine badgers in shot, and while I think only six of them are cubs, we have seen seven cubs in the same place at the same time while sitting near the sett watching.

As time goes on, the young badgers grow in size and confidence.

(Note: Date stamp on the bottom of the photos swaps from Year/month/day to Month/day/year)

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If you’re happy and you know it, wave your paws!
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Cubs play more independently.
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Time for a good grooming session before heading to bed for the day…
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It seems surprising that the badgers venture out this early in the day.  I think this is Ginny. Perhaps the cubs are getting a little too boisterous and big down there.
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As time goes on, it is the cubs that emerge from the sett first, as if they just can’t wait to start exploring.
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‘Hurry up you two…”
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As the cubs get older, they seem to spend hours play fighting, racing round each other in circles. They are a blur to watch – very similar to this photo in fact!
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This is two adults grooming, with a cub in the background.  The adult facing us is Ginny, and the other adult, I think, is a male. In the next photo, you can see the difference in Ginny’s colouring to the other badgers.
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This photo is taken 9 seconds after the one above.  As the male moves round, you can see that Ginny has a reddish colour about her that makes her stand out from the other badgers, (hence her name for those of you who have read Harry Potter!).  It’s hard to tell from a still photo, but it looks like the male is scent marking the female here (allomarking), something badgers do to mark out members of the family.
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Badgers and bluebells – check out the cub procession in the background!

I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of the inhabitants of the wood in pictures.  There are, of course, many other creatures who visit the wood, and later on in the summer I hope to put together another collection of photographs from our camera traps. It’s quite enlightening to find out just a little of what goes on after we have left the wood for the day, and the creatures have their world back to themselves…

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