Level 1 Badger Surveyor Course with Scottish Badgers

December 08, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Badger-Badger At the end of November I took another step towards my future goal of working in wildlife ecology and conservation by attending a training weekend with Scottish Badgers.

Badgers (Meles meles) are members of the Mustelidae family, the same as Otters, Pine Martins, Stoats and Weasels.  They are powerfully built and have the characteristic black and white striped face that we all instantly recognise. Their diet mainly consists of earthworms but they are opportunistic omnivores that will take advantage of whatever is available at the time. They are fascinating creatures and I personally love them. However, they are not popular with many people and are heavily protected, not because they are rare but because of the persecution they suffer. I'll leave this discussion for a future blog post....

I fell in love with Badgers while I was living in Eskdalemuir. We had several different individuals that frequented the surrounding area and I'd often see them as I walked down to the centre in the morning. I was lucky enough to have a group of regular visitors to the garden that I used to feed and film on the trail camera. Badgers

After studying them at a distance for a while, seeing them in the wild and watching the videos, I soon came to realise that they are fascinating creatures - each with their own personalities. It left me feeling that I wanted to do more to study and ultimately help these misunderstood creatures.

I joined the Scottish Badgers charity in the summer and as luck would have it they were starting a new roll out of training weekends for people who want to become a Level 1 Badger Surveyor. The course was organised and run by Ashleigh Wylie, the Education Advisor for the charity and was taught over two days. 

Day one was classroom based and we learned everything we needed to know about Badgers - their ecology, diet, habitats, how to identify field signs and the laws that protect them. Ashleigh was incredibly knowledgeable about the subject and covered everything we needed to know.

image1image1

Day two was out in the field. Luckily the weather stayed dry and the group met to explore the surrounding area for field signs and hopefully a Badger sett. The area seemed to be a Badger hotspot and we were spotting field signs as soon as we left the car park. There were plenty of badger pathways leading from one field to another, badger prints left in mud and several dung pits - including a latrine underneath a hedge that was directly opposite someone's house! This gave us all the fantastic opportunity to use our poo sticks (something every good badger surveyor should carry) and give some badger poo a sniff!

Claw marksBadger claw marks outside sett entrance. image3image3Entrance to a badger sett image2 (2)image2 (2)Freshly excavated entrance image2image2Badger print

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a fantastic day, expertly guided by Ashleigh, and in the end we were lucky enough to locate not one sett but three! The second sett we found was particularly interesting as not only was it obviously in use by Badgers (again plenty of latrines and even some bedding balls as evidence), but there was also evidence of both Fox and Rabbit using it as well. 

With the training weekend over I now have the task of surveying my own sett and recording signs of use over the course of a year. There will then be a written and practical assessment which, if I pass, will mean I can call myself an official badger surveyor and undertake surveys for Scottish Badgers.

It is this kind of work that I am so desperate to be involved in and so I finally feel as if I am moving closer to that goal - and, as for the photography, of course I plan to take some photos of these iconic animals.

 Till next time,

Lisa

 


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