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Visiting Badgers

Steve Tomlinson has been out and about photographing badgers. I won’t say where for obvious reasons. Steve writes, “I have been casing a badger sett for some time now and I think that this is as close as I’m going to get to them. The colour photo was taken by me standing only ten feet away from the badger cub emerging from the sett. The black and white was taken by my trail camera after I left and let them get on with it.” It seems however that Steve isn’t the only one to enjoy badgers, in fact it seems almost everyone apart from the Government seems to value them.

What’s My Visitor?

Another person, who shall remain anonymous for similar reasons, has also contacted me to say, “I thought you would be interested in the curious events that have happening in my garden this summer. About six weeks ago a weather-worn toy elephant with one eye missing turned up on the lawn beneath our prunus tree - we thought that it might have belonged to our grandchildren and maybe had spent a season or two in the tree before falling out, but they denied that it was one of theirs. A few weeks later a toy ‘dog’s bone’ made of cloth, equally bedraggled, turned up on the lawn. Then, last week, we came back from holiday to find a tired-looking toy tiger lying in the grass of our meadow beside a freshly-ravaged ants’ mound/solarium. Some unknown animal has dug deeply into our ants’ mounds several times during the last couple of years, but we have never been sure what might have been doing it. Judged by their position, the toys could not have been thrown over the hedges into our garden, and we have had no pets here for the last three years. The fences are all in good condition with no gaps that would easily allow a badger to call, but I have seen a fox here by day on two occasions in the last three months. I gather that foxes will occasionally take children’s toys, a behaviour that I find rather endearing! Do you think that our fox might be responsible for these goings-on?” It’s my view that this is most likely the work of Brock, the badger, for the following reasons. Badgers have a reputation for taking unusual items. The cubs are out and about at present and like all young animals are inquisitive. I would think that a badger could get anywhere that a fox might get, they are capable of climbing. There is very little ‘normal’ badger food about at the moment, because of the extremely dry weather they are unable to find their preferred diet of worms, badgers exploit a wide variety of food items, but earthworms form the majority of the diet. They also eat fruits and berries, and other animals if times are hard, including hedgehogs. If you have badgers in your garden try feeding them peanuts. Badgers would be more likely than fox to attack an ant’s nest. There are known badger setts near anonymous’s garden. I have also had a couple of other folk reporting badgers, both on the urban fringes and both reporting juvenile badgers.

Sightings

Steven Whiteley wrote to me recently with “details of a few sightings I have had on recent walks near Wetherby Road in Harrogate and also visitors to my small garden. Bird sightings have been a little few and far between this last week or so. I have seen a pair of buzzards together with a red kite being mobbed as usual by the resident crows. There was also about a dozen lapwing earlier this week together with a host of gulls following the tractors in the fields.” Steven also saw a female wheatear, presumably on passage. He continues, “This walk is also very good for butterfly and moth sightings. This week I have seen holly blue, small tortoiseshell, speckled wood, peacocks, ringlets, small skippers, gatekeepers and a variety of white butterflies including green veined, large and small whites. Moths include silver ‘Y’, mother of pearl, blood vein and common carpet moths plus a number of smaller moths which, for me, are the moth equivalent of the ‘little brown jobs’. I also keep an eye out in my garden. I have recently had four copper underwing moths spending the day in my shed. (These may be Svenssons copper underwing). In addition I have also noted garden carpet moths, a mullein wave and willow beauty. I have also seen a number of other wave and pug moths but identifying them is not easy.”

Both Robert Marshall of Harrogate Naturalists Society and Chris Liddle have kindly contacted me about the true identification of the bee-like insect recently photographed by Mark Campey and have confirmed what Buglife said, it is a figwort sawfly - Tenthredo scrophulariae.

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