Monday, 13 June 2016

Hares, Foxes and Badgers

It’s been over a month since I last posted anything on this blog. During that time, I have been putting any free moments into catching up with the local larger mammals on the patches I regularly walk. I have thought long and hard before posting these pictures as it inevitably leads to requests of “Where did you see these? I would like to see them myself.”

I decided I would share the pictures, I will not however share the whereabouts of any of the animals pictured. I hope you enjoy the photos and ask that you don’t put me in the position of refusing to share locations with you, as the way I refuse will almost certainly offend!

Hares are a real passion of mine. It always makes my day to encounter them when I’m out on my wanders and I am getting better at creeping up on them. I was worried at the beginning of the year that I had not seen many Hares on the land I walk. This is still true of areas that had a few last year but I have seen none this year. However, a couple of areas have produced the goods and I enjoy looking for the Hares in these areas. One spot has already seen the attention of two guys with running dogs, but they have now twice vacated the area quickly on my approach. They didn’t enjoy having the camera pointed at them and I have not seen them for a while. I would like to see these amazing creatures carry on and thrive in these areas.




The Foxes have been a little more difficult to track down. The first is a dog fox and one of a pair I have been watching. At first, he was hunting very frequently, obviously providing for the vixen while she was denning with cubs. Recently, I have found him occasionally laid out sunning himself, as it seems he in no longer the sole provider of food to his brood. What I believe to be his mate can now be relied upon to make an appearance if I am willing to be patient and wait for her. This regular vixen is in quite good condition and has obviously been suckling cubs. I have recently seen her hunting rabbits. Twice I have watched her successfully catch and carry off a rabbit I expect to her cubs. The cubs will be old enough now to be left for short periods and she will also now be hunting as she starts the process of weaning the cubs off her milk. Fresh caught prey will become rapidly more significant in the cubs diet now, so both parents hunting should provide for their needs in this rabbit rich environment. My view point for two of these foxes doesn’t allow for decent pictures. I’m facing the setting sun, there is too much undergrowth and bramble and they are a little distant. It’s not all about photographs though, that’s just I bonus if and when conditions allow.

The third fox looks quite young, probably one of last years cubs. This yearling on the face of it looked in very good condition initially, but I suspect it may have a problem. Foxes do go through a heavy summer moult and some can look pretty tatty at this time of year. This youngster is almost moulted out, but i’m a little concerned by the condition of its tail. It looks like it may be suffering from the early stages of mange. I will keep a look out for this individual and see how things progress.

• I have seen this yearling again and the tail is not looking any worse. It does have a covering of fur along its whole length, so i’m hoping this is just a moult. Mange symptoms do tend to start at the tail base, but there tends to be complete hair loss in the affected area. If it hangs around, I will keep an eye on its process.





Most of my free time though has been spent hoping to see some badger cubs above ground. They just cannot resist being above ground playing once they are about 12 - 14 weeks old. I have been watching a few Setts I am aware of, and eventually my patience paid off. I was pleased to get some decent daytime pictures of three cubs occasionally accompanied by mom playing in the late afternoon sun.





 To be in the close proximity of badgers as they go about their business is a real privilege and only makes my adoration of theses fascinating creatures stronger. I’m sure no-one  is under any illusion about the black cloud hanging over our nations badger population in the form of the governments badger cull. This ill thought out policy has failed on every level, including failing dismally to meet their own already low standards of what constitutes a humane death for the shooting of a free roaming badger. With absolutely no solid scientific evidence to prove badgers spread Bovine TB to cattle, and cases of Bovine TB actually rising in some cull areas, the government still seem hell bent own pursuing this abhorrent scheme.

The Badger Trust is fighting hard to change the mind of this government and bring this failing policy to an end. Any support that can be given to the Badger Trust is money being put to good use to save our badgers. 

I listened to Dominic Dyer, the CEO of the Badger Trust speak recently at a Badger Cull protest rally I attended in Leicester city centre. Of all the things he said, this one quote struck a chord with me, as it must have done with others as it appeared a lot on social media.




Check out the Badger Trust’s website for yourself and make your own mind up. If you agree with what they stand for, try and make a donation.

Click the banner to check out the Badger Trust Website.