The first half of Rem G this last Friday were the first to split into two smaller groups: one intending to observe and catalogue the woodland birds at the feeder (using the observation hide in the field classroom); the other to collect a second week's footage from the main badger sett (site 2). In theory, the bird group should have seen a lot more real-life wildlife than my badger group did, though the only two entries on their log sheet rather summed up the first part of their afternoon:
2:30 - Survey started
2:35 - Started raining. No birds!
2:41 - High pitched tweeting; small bird? Did not see it.
So their survey was a washout; but after they went on to pay a brief visit to the path-side sett, and after the badger group had done the work of observing the main sett and fetching back the camera footage from site 2, we all observed and logged some fantastic badger behaviour on the monitor back at the field classroom: an adult badger bringing new bedding material to the sett, and dragging it into the burrow.
All this footage is from a period of 15 minutes in the early evening (8:50 - 9:04 pm) of October 1st. We will monitor progress again next week, alongside a new project to look at the fruiting fungi in the reserve.
After being left unobserved for a few months, a camera was placed back at site 2 at the badger sett on Fri 13th Sept. The main tasks of the first half of Rem L this week (Fri 2013.9.27) were to explore the 'main' sett, compare it with the path-side sett, and examine the week's worth of trail-cam footage from the monitored burrow.
En-route to the main sett, observations were made at the path-side sett: further digging had taken place, and in the fresh soil depressions from footprints could be observed. An ad-hoc measuring attempt showed that the prints were about 3 x 10 pence coins in length. Click to enlarge the accompanying image.
Filming at the main sett stopped at the start of July, both because activity there was dwindling, and after a camera there had been spotted by passers by (an occupational hazard). After some months' hiatus, and in a different season, it makes sense to begin monitoring the sett again, and site 2 is one of the most active burrows there.
The Wildlife Log calendar details full records of badger activity at site 2 during the week, but the highlights can be found below, as summarised by Luka Joannou, Will Cook, Nabeel Choudhury and Shivum Gupta:
"11: The badger is clearing out the hole in the sett and then another badger comes.
12: This badger is continuing to dig his hole, and you can see another badger in the corner."
"18: This badger has been foraging and has returned with a muddy nose. He needs a clean!"
"60: Two badgers are cleaning each other and grooming themselves!!"
This was also the first time since trials at the sett began that a badger has been filmed in colour by the trail cameras (which default to infra-red, and therefore black and white, in low light); though a video of a 'badger's bum' as he walks off didn't seem to merit posting here!
One final image: recent excavation at a new burrow on the top of the main sett. One to monitor in the coming weeks.
Though the 'deer cam' at site 8 was also monitored during this outing, and did indeed record some muntjac presence, there is nothing worth noting here beyond the Log entries for the week; though that site did see some badger foraging, the presence of two foxes, and an upright squirrel! More on the YouTube channel if you are interested.
The second outing of the term (Fri 2013.9.13) was made by the 1st half of Rem W, who likewise set out to observe evidence for badger activity at the sett alongside the main path, and recordings of the muntjac deer at two sites at the top of the reserve (sites 8 and 10).
The first two images show recent excavation at the path-side sett, where the impression of badger prints could also be found. It is hoped that clearer examples of prints may be found in coming weeks, in damper mud.
As for the deer, this third image shows the environs of site 8, including the camouflaged trail camera. The site's location has proved valuable for capturing passing and foraging deer, and during the last week returned 4 videos of muntjac deer from Sun 15th & Mon 16th Sept; in one, two individuals are seen together. Full records are able to view on the new Wildlife Log page, together with those of other current 'target' species. For the second consecutive week, however, site 10 returned nothing worth recording, and so has been discontinued.
Some smaller observations made during the afternoon are given below, with pupils' notes:
2013.9.13 (p.m.), top of main path
Sahil Bashir & Rushi Dasoondi
"One particular forage area contained bulbs, some of which had been half-eaten. Imprints on bulbs of teeth may show what animal..."
Rayyan & Bilal
"The oak leaf seems to be infected with gall mites. The leaf is covered with light and dark brown irregular outgrowing spots. They grow on the leaf (not part of the leaf) and are packed very closely together".