Bitl Blog: Oot 'n' Aboot in South Lanarkshire in February
February brought a real mixed bag in terms of weather – from glorious sunny days walking through the woods with the heat of the sun on our backs (yes, really!); to snow, ice and wind on repeat forcing us to cancel a fair few volunteer days! Nonetheless, our volunteers have managed to achieve so much this past month. Here’s just some of what we’ve been up to:
It’s always a treat to re-visit known setts to see how they’re getting on. Last Spring, we found an unusual sett under a lime tree near the River Clyde. We couldn’t wait to get back to check it out and it didn’t disappoint! Here it is in all its glory:
It was great to see so much evidence of breeding at our monitoring setts too. Copious amounts of bedding were being brought in at this sett in Hamilton. The bedding material of choice was wood rush and reeds – we also spotted where they’d been biting off the reeds in large clumps in a nearby field. What a glorious spot for a sett – the cubs have a real treat waiting for them when they emerge above ground to see their home patch for the first time:
Another main sett on our monitoring list showed lots of evidence of coming and going by badgers – including this path over a fallen tree, complete with prints in the mud and mud on the tree where the muddy-bellied badgers had been slumping over it!
At the next monitoring sett on our list, we found this scratching tree. Can you believe that badgers would climb this high? Or that this tree could hold their weight? We couldn’t quite believe our eyes, so we’re planning on putting a trail camera out there to capture their antics!
Trail camera expeditions
We are now working on two long-term monitoring sites as part of our trail camera project – one at Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Falls of Clyde reserve in New Lanark and one on a South Lanarkshire Council site in Hamilton. Our volunteers have been busy on both sites this past month, carefully adjusting camera positions and angles to obtain the best footage:
Full-bellied females, frequent bedding collection and latterly lots of footage of mating all seem to point towards cubs underground.
Despite the weather being largely against us last month, we still managed to get out on a few surveys and our volunteers found 15 new setts. There’s such a buzz to be had from starting off on a new site, gradually starting to pick up on badger field signs, then following them to find a new sett! Here’s our volunteers checking for prints on a mammal path in Hamilton. We weren’t far from the main sett at this point, but we didn’t know it yet! It always amazes us how badgers can survive in the little natural nooks and crannies that thread through urban areas. We often wonder if people passing us on surveys know that they are living so close to such an iconic animal!
We see so much when we’re out and about on surveys, sett monitoring sessions and trail camera expeditions. We found this woodpecker anvil near to one of our monitoring setts:
These prints spotted next to the River Clyde might well be mink:
On one of our trail camera expeditions, a volunteer spotted this stretch of prints where a fox had been walking along the top of the wall in the snow – what a vantage point:
We’ve had a great month and we’re looking forward to the weather improving in March so that we can get on with all the fun trips we’ve got planned! If you fancy joining us on our adventures, email us and we’ll tell you more about how to get involved. Click here to find out more about the Lottery-funded Badgers in the Landscape project. Thanks to all our volunteers for your hard work last month!
Volunteer hours logged in February: 168
Steps walked for the badgers in February: 317,000