Badger watching people birdwatching

by on Jun.04, 2010, under Badger, Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland, Wildlife

Yesterday’s Druridge Bay/Southeast Northumberland trip was focussed on coastal birdwatching and, particularly, mammals.  We’re moving more and more towards early starts and/or late finishes on our Safaris; some of our clients like the 9-5 sort of day out which slots easily into their daily routine whereas others are more adventurous and a mid-afternoon start means that we’re still out at what is, in my opinion, the best time of the day…

It’s near to dusk and we’re sitting on a hillside in a shaded wood.  Opposite us is an area of open ground that will, I hope, provide a longed-for lifer for my clients.  Pipistrelles are racing backwards and forwards around our heads and everyone is following their pre-trip instructions to the letter; no movement, no sound, make sure there’s something behind you to break up your silhouette.

We’ve already had an excellent afternoon in the stunning weather;  a Little Owl sat and watched us without any concern – perhaps it recognises our Land Rover after a few visits, and realises that we aren’t a threat?  A Barn Owl flew close by, taking prey back to the nest and a Reed Bunting sang from a reedbed just a few meters away, it’s simple song drowned out by the extraordinary performance of a Sedge Warbler.  Now though, we’re approaching the culmination of the trip and there’s a strong sense of anticipation.  A movement on the hillside opposite, and there’s our first Badger of the evening 🙂  Trotting along a track near the top of the hill, we get just a few seconds as it’s clearly on a mission.  Everyone sits still and silent; discipline indeed after the appearance of the day’s main target.  A Red Fox came down off the hillside then walked past us and up the bank we were sitting against, as unconcerned as the Little Owl by our presence.  Patience pays off a few minutes later when two young Badgers appear low down on the hillside.  After a few minutes of playing around behind a tree trunk, and only being visible briefly, one of them comes out into the open; snuffling and foraging it’s way across the clearing, these are the views of wildlife that make what we do so much fun.  A brief pause, and it turned to face us, lifting it’s head high.  Have we been spotted?  A lot of succesful wildlife encounters depend on not being seen, or at least not appearing to be a threat.  As it returns to happily foraging on the hillside I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that we’d got it right, and once it had vanished into the undergrowth we retreat silently from our watchpoint, treading carefully; after all, we’ve managed to watch these iconic animals without disturbing them, it would be a real shame to cause them distress as we leave.

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