BitL Blog: A week in the life of the South Lan Clan …
Ever wondered what it’s like to volunteer with us? Project Officer Elaine Rainey reports on another busy week for South Lanarkshire’s Badgers in the Landscape project ...
On Tuesday we met up with our new intern Camille - a Masters student who will be based at the badger hub at Falls of Clyde for the next six months (find out more about Camille’s role here). Camille helped us with the servicing of the trail cameras for our long-term monitoring project. We can’t wait to view the latest footage and share it with our trail camera volunteers - the sett was looking fantastic!
We couldn’t resist having a good look around for field signs while out on the reserve, and the badgers didn’t disappoint! We spotted this fallen log where badgers had been having a good hoke about for insects!
Latrine use in the usual spots has not really kicked off yet. We would expect to see the latrines really filling up into February and March, when the females come into oestrus after the birth of their cubs.
Wednesday’s planned survey had to be abandoned due to high water levels on the Rotten Calder (where we were due to survey). Not to be put off, we retreated to safer ground for a spot of sett monitoring and to view some temporary sett exclusions (necessary due to path improvement work). The setts didn’t disappoint, with one of our favourites – the ‘big bing sett’ - looking great as always!
On our monitoring route, one of our volunteers pointed out some rabbit digging and droppings on the edge of a footpath. “Nothing unusual there” one might say – but on closer inspection we noticed dense collections of pellets along with a line of scrapes - it had all the signs of a rabbit latrine! Yes, rabbits are indeed territorial, with this type of latrine indicative of a territorial boundary. We’re always learning on this project and each participant notices different things in the landscape, which enhances our learning even more.
We were back on track with our surveys on Saturday, with a great group of enthusiastic volunteers! One of our new volunteers had spotted what she thought might be a badger sett in Hamilton. We checked our national database of badger records and had nothing recorded in that area, so we couldn’t wait to go and check it out! Sure enough, nine setts later, we were confident that we’d found a new site for badger activity in Hamilton! At least one of the setts looked as though it was gearing up for breeding, so we can’t wait to see how that turns out! Look at the wonderfully clear badger path through the ground ivy, heading straight to this active sett entrance where we found fresh badger footprints!
Taking her new tracking skills to the next level, our intern Camille found this birds’ nest that, on closer inspection, contained badger hairs! Clever birdies!
Unfortunately, we also came across a sett that had been extensively and repeatedly dug by badger baiters. The image below shows the extensive crowning down hole and the breached tunnels that the badgers have since turned into entrances. There were still signs of current use by badgers and the digging did not look particularly recent, so hopefully it will stay that way and these badgers can live peacefully in their natural environment. Our find was reported to Police Scotland on 101 and they responded almost immediately.
If you would like to get involved in our surveys, sett monitoring sessions or trail camera expeditions, please get in touch with our Project Officer. If you would like to learn more about badger crime and what to do if you find a dug sett, please visit our Crime Pages.
Until next time, happy badgering!
Week beginning Monday 22nd January 2018: Volunteer hours logged - 48, Steps taken - 111,000.
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