Badger Sett Snoozes & Tawny Owl Visits

The conditions at Yew View were far from ideal this week. With gale force winds battering the area, I was glad to arrive safely after a hairy drive up the M5. Luckily, I had some inside jobs to do, setting up the new owl box. This is one of two boxes I have from The Barn Owl Centre in Gloucester. I will be writing a more detailed blog about these soon, but they are made from a recycled plastic which has superior thermal insulation and heat retaining properties. The huge benefits are that the box is much  lighter and will need virtually no maintenance. I am going to be trialling a box at Yew View as well as at home.

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I spent some time experimenting with different camera set-ups inside here, but settled with mounting the camera on the inside of the top roof section and angling it so that it showed the entrance and the floor space. I won’t be putting this box up until next week, when the winds have died down!

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This box is suitable for a range of species and will be mounted on a raised platform down by the river. I would love a barn owl to check it out, but it is more likely to be a squirrel, stock doves of jackdaws!

Despite the horrible windy weather, the Spring bulbs were making a good show… I am always amazed at how much new stuff appears within the week…

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There were even bumble bee queens feeding on the early nectar source of the hellebores… great plants to get for the garden as they provide a very early nectar source and look lovely in the garden!

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I was glad I had not undertaken too many jobs outside as we lost a huge bough of a mature tree, that smashed through one of our feeding stations. Another dead tree lost its top….

 

I had checked all the cams and cleaned the lenses as, in this weather, they get covered in mud splashes. I then started to look through the week’s footage. I had checked in on my phone icatcher app a few times in the week and had seen that the tawnies had been in and out. I was excited to check and see what had been happening. Working my way through, day at a time, I was excited to see so many visits; nine visits during the week!

Both male and female had visited and I had the PTZ trained on the outside of the box as well…

Inside, there was lots of calling from the male, trying to tempt the female in. I just love the calls they do within this box. We also filmed them, ‘paddling’ the substrate in the bottom of the box, testing its suitability. This box is lined with  deep bed of rough wood chips. I am including a couple of videos here and there are more on our YouTube Channel if you would like to view the others.

I also lifted some stills from the visits this week…

They also visited the kingfisher post a few times this week..

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Last year, we had similar visits in February, even with the female starting to roost in the box during the day then, at the last minute, they changed their mind. I really hope that this is the year they decide to actually breed here!

The stock doves are also very interested in this box and have visited quite a lot. They are no competition for the tawny and will only nest if the tawnies  decide not to…

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It wasn’t just the tawny box that provided us with exciting footage this week…. the badger sett did too! We have not really had any significant visits to our camera badger sett for the last few months. This week, we have had one individual sleep there for 4 nights…. and it is in the sett as I write now (I can check all the Yew View cameras via the icatcher app on my phone!)

This individual looks like he has been in the wars. You will notice that one of his ears is partly missing. It is difficult to tell on the footage, but it looks like a relative new injury. Badgers can be quite ferocious, especially around setts and with disputes about territories. It does not seem too worried by this injury and slept for 2 – 4 hrs at a time in both chambers. He seemed to come in mid evening and sleep for a few hours, then go out foraging, returning early hours for a few more hours, leaving before it got light.

It is a complete privilege to be able to watch a wild badger inside a sett! They are rather restless sleepers, forever tossing and turning, scratching and stretching…..

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There was so much footage, it was difficult to choose. I tried to select some footage that showed different aspects of the time he spent there. Make sure you select to watch it on HD. The other issue we get in there is a mixture of spider distraction and rather annoying nose smudges on the dome! Luckily, I designed this set up so I can easily remove the camera to clean it (as long as there is no one in the sett!)

When we built the sett, just over a year ago, I had hardly dared to dream that we might be privy to footage like this! I just hope he decides to stay… if he spends the day in there, I will be VERY excited. We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed!