How changeable can a day be? I had planned to go out to Wytham today to do some more Stem Respiration work. However, at 8am this morning the wind was spitting raindrops against the office window and it looked like another wet and dull day, not ideal for field work. But by 9.30am the rain had stopped and I could see the sky clearing from the west. So I got my stuff together and headed out.
By the time I got to the Northern Edge there was no wind and there was not a cloud in the sky. A beautiful clear, still winter’s day. After a couple of hours though I did begin to notice a gentle breeze. The tops of the most slender trees were blowing gently but it was still bright and sunny. The late morning sun catching the top most branches to produce forks of silver lightning against the blue sky.
Whenever I am in Wytham I keep an eye out for wildlife or signs of wildlife, and as I come to the end of the Mammals and Reptiles section of the Ecological Survey Techniques course I was on the lookout for signs of animals in the wood.
As I got towards the edge of the wood I noticed that the path I was walking on appeared to fork and the left fork went straight towards the forest edge. But it can’t have been a path made by humans as it was crossed by undisturbed branches, only a foot or so off the ground. So it must have been made by an animal, but what sort?
I’m pretty sure I had my answer when I followed the path to the bank that surrounds the wood. Just inside the bank something had dug a few holes and filled these holes with faeces. From the size, quantity and appearance I think it was badger.
Looking around, I could see an obvious path had been worn up the bank, along the top of the bank and then out of the wood into the field. Do the badgers defecate before foraging or after? Is it linked with territory marking?
Having completed my work in the Northern Edge I headed back to the car and then down to the Southern Edge.
At first the weather appeared to be the same glorious still and bright day. However, gradually it clouded over, the wind picked up and it felt a lot more like a cold February day.
But change again did the weather. Writing this back at home, the sky is clear once more and the wind has dropped, although the tingling in my cheeks tells me I may have caught the weather today.
While in the Southern Edge I found more evidence of mammals, this time in the form of some foot prints: