Badger close-up

Badger, Forest of Dean, originally uploaded by Ben909.

It's a clear day and the sun is shining for the first time in ages. And I'm stuck at home poorly. So I've been digging around some older photos and decided to upload these badger photos from back in August. They were taken at a sett in the Forest of Dean. It was pretty much pitch black - I've never been fortunate enough to see them in the daylight. This particular sett houses 4 badgers. Hopefully February will bring more. Badgers are capable of 'delayed implantation', which means the female can become fertilized in any month of the year, but can 'choose' to begin development of the baby badger at a later date according to food availability and weather, normally giving birth in February.


Badger, Forest of Dean, originally uploaded by Ben909.

Another from the badger series taken in August this year. One of the entrances to the sett can be made out to the right of the tree trunks. I arrive at dusk and wait for night to fall - even with a torch, negotiating the forest at night can be very disorientating!

Stevie gets a nose tickle

This is Rob Ward meeting Stevie Wonder. You may remember Stevie from a couple of posts I made last month (click here for pics). He's a wild boar that has been given a home by Alastair from Severnwye Llama Trekking. Stevie is virtually blind, and as a result he stood no chance of survival in the wild. He couldn't even get a look in on his mothers milk as a youngster. Now two years old, he's continuing to do very well indeed in Alastair's care.
I went inside Stevie's pen with him for a bit, and Rob's fingers are still very much intact. Contrary to what you might have been lead to believe in the press, or from scaremongers, these are not savage beasts - just very much misunderstood. I'd have been far more cautious entering a pen containing a cow! That said though, they are large wild and powerful wild animals, and should not be approached in the wild (or have their noses tickled!)

This second image is the result of a bit of fun with Photoshop.

I've posted a number of wild boar (in the wild in the Forest of Dean) photos in the past too, which you can reach here. And do check out Rob's Forest of Dean Wildlife blog too - there are some first class photos on there :)

They live here too...

Take a look at these pictures. None of them are particularly great or they'd have been posted here before in much larger sizes. That's not the point of this post. The point is, this is not a fearsome or dangerous creature, if a few basic common sense rules are observed. Yet again, another dog has been injured by a wild boar in the Forest of Dean, and yet again, a dog owner's lack of understanding has resulted in a knee-jerk call for the killing of the boar.

In this case, the boar concerned is apparently a sow with dependant young. Killing it will mean only one thing for its family. This goes a long way to explain why the boar acted as it did. It's a trait common to all species - that of the instinct to survive and to protect the survival of it's offspring. A dog would do the same thing if a boar came bounding in to an area where it was caring for it's puppies. It's instinctive.

Wild boar will not attack unless provoked. I'm yet to hear a believable story of a boar attacking a human. When alarmed, a boar will make some incredible noises that could easily be construed as aggression. It will then generally run away. If you're lucky, it may even approach you for a better look (their eyesight is poor). Whilst taking these photos, and on many other occasions, I have not had any cause to fear for my safety. However, a determined dog could keep up with a fleeing wild boar, and to the dog, the piglets no doubt represent something perfect to play with/eat. This is provocation in every sense of the word, and we can't be outraged when a boar responds in the unfortunate way that it seems to have done on this occasion, much as we do have every sympathy for the suffering of the dog and the anguish of its owner.

The wild boar live here. Apart from a prolonged absence caused by man's hunting to extinction, they are back where they have always lived - they belong here.

I'm now a dog owner too. I hope one day to be able to let her off the lead in the Forest too. However, that will only be in areas where I know the chances of encountering wild boar are close to nil, and only then, when she has suitable recall control. Until then, she goes on the lead, and she goes to other places where she can safely run free.

This newspaper article, assuming it's accurate, makes it clear that the owner knew there were boar around. I'm a dog lover, so I'm truly sorry to hear what has happened, and I hope the dog makes a good recovery. However, this wasn't the fault of the boar, nor of the dog. Both were doing what comes naturally. We have very few creatures in this country where care needs to be taken for the safety of pets and ourselves - other countries have far greater, and far more real, dangerous creatures to deal with - they've adapted and learned to live with those creatures, and so should we. In this particular case, it's not actually much to learn to live with. Most people in the Forest have never seen a wild boar, and if it weren't for these stories in the media, they would barely know they were here. The Forest is still a safe place for people and dogs to be. There's every chance that public understanding of the boar in Britain is less now than it was in medieval times, and that needs to change if the wild boar are to stand any chance of long term survival here.
Thanks to Rob for the image of the newspaper article.

Teazels, Teazles, Teasels (?)

Teazels, Teazles, Teasels (?), originally uploaded by Ben909.

Teasels are easily identified with their prickly stem and leaves, and the inflorescence of purple, dark pink or lavender flowers that form a head on the end of the stem(s). The seeds are an important winter food resource for some birds.

Anarchy on the Severn

Anarchy on the Severn, originally uploaded by Ben909.

I'm not sure what motivated someone to daub this on one of the thousands of boulders that make up the tidal barrier on the banks of the Severn on the edge of the cow field... unless they were trying to start a bovine revolution perhaps.
Taken near Lydney, between the rain, which is getting boring now.

Fallow Deer (Dama dama)

Fallow Deer, Forest of Dean, originally uploaded by Ben909.

Bit of a quiet day in the forest today... spotted a few deer from a distance, this being the only capture I was able to manage.
Tried a zoom burst effect on this one, but not using the 'in camera' technique of zooming the lens during the exposure - deer aren't obliging enough to stand still for that! I'm not sure how well it works really, but I wanted to try it.

Orton in Autumn

Orton in Autumn, Forest of Dean, originally uploaded by Ben909.

With storms predicted later most of these leaves left hanging will probably be gone tomorrow. Made from three exposures with a slight Orton effect.