Badgers

Tues 13th Dec 2011

Badger (copy 180px x 127px)I’m going to write about badgers this week but first I want to tell you about the new camera I’ve been trying out for night time filming. It’s a Vickers Bushell Trophy camera, a high definition security model that I’ve been given on loan to test out. It’s a nice camera but I can’t quite get the quality right as yet. I think I may need to use some infra-red lighting as well. But that’s what filming wildlife is all about, trial and error and lots of patience. I’ll give it another go tonight.

The first night I put it up I filmed lots of animals. Just before dark a squirrel came along. A bit later it picked up four wild boar and then five deer. An hour or so after that a fox appeared, then two badgers and finally the four wild boar again. It just shows what’s out there running around in the night. I do have a feeding station to encourage them and bring them to the camera but it’s lovely to see so much night time activity.

On to badgers now. Did you know that badgers and foxes will live in the same place? The badger sett may be on one side of the area and the fox den on the other but the underground tunnels will all join up. Do the two animals ever meet up underground I wonder?

If you want to see or film badgers around their sett you need to learn how to approach them. The most important thing to bear in mind is wind direction. Badgers have poor eyesight but a very strong sense of smell. So, approach the sett from down wind so that your scent is blown away from the sett not towards it. And don’t go walking all around the sett or the badgers won’t come out until you’re gone.

When badgers move away from the sett they tend to follow the same tracks time after time. If you can identify their main route, this is a good place to set up a camera as they are bound to pass by.

I like to encourage them to come to me, often to one of my permanent hides. I do this by feeding them. I usually use peanuts but they will also eat scraps and they love dog food. Don’t ever put out bread and milk as badgers are lactose intolerant and it will only do them harm. Once Julie and I were camping at Widecombe Fair and we were woken by a terrible clattering in the night. I looked out and a badger was eating the fat out of a frying pan someone had left out. He was really enjoying it I’d say.

When you start your feeding programme put the food a good way away from you at first. Give the badgers a fortnight to get used to things then gradually start to bring the food a bit closer to you. Over time the badgers will get used to you, even though they will be able to smell you, and they won’t mind coming quite close. You’ll have a great time watching them and get some good shots if that’s your aim.

Some people say badgers will feed out of their hand. I don’t recommend this. They are wild animals remember and could bite unexpectedly. The shape of a badgers jaw means that his teeth lock together when he bites so once he has a grip on you he won’t easily let go.

If you fancy building your own hide you might find that the farmer whose land the sett is on will be happy to let you. It’s certainly worth asking. Otherwise you might want to invest in a portable hide like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

At this time of year the badgers are busy cleaning out their sett ready for their babies to be born in the New Year. It tends to be January down here in the South West. They drag all their bedding out to dry and air and then put it all back again. I don’t know how they are managing to do it with all this rain we’ve been having. Badgers are actually very clean animals and even have their toilet area away from the sett.

If you see a badger out in daylight or around buildings a lot, especially farm buildings, it’s likely it is old or ill and struggling to find food. It’s best to keep away as they can be vicious animals when they feel threatened, even more so when if they are not in good health.

Well, that’s about it for this week. I want to get out and set up this camera before it gets dark. I’ll let you know how I get on next week.