WITH our lives very restricted at the moment, I'm fortunate to live beside a wood in Clackmannanshire.

It has enabled me to check-up on the progress of local fox and badger families as part of my hour-long daily exercise.

I've been monitoring both a fox den and a badger sett with trail cameras, and whilst there is still no sign of any cubs emerging yet above ground, there has been plenty of activity by the adults.

At the badger sett, my camera has filmed an adult on several occasions busily collecting bedding material.

Bracken and grass are gathered, and then the badger hugs the bundle to its chest, and shuffles backwards with a series of jerky movement towards the sett entrance.

It is fascinating to watch and an indication of the care and attention that goes into looking after cubs.

There can be up to five badger cubs in a litter, and they'll first venture out from their burrow about two months after being born, which could be anytime over the next few weeks.

At the fox den, my camera has monitored a vixen as she enters and exits, most often at night, although occasionally during the day.

She will have cubs down below, but they are still too small to make their first forays into the outside world.

The vixen is a cautious and skittish mother, and I have to be very careful when setting my trail camera, lest I should spook her.

This is a wonderful time of year, and the first emergence of badger and fox cubs is always one highlight I look forward to.

The young of both animals are boisterous and full of fun, and spend much time chasing and playing.

It is a period to hone their reflexes and practice at pouncing and hunting.

These early months are crucial for learning, and the skills they develop over the coming weeks, will prove priceless once they become independent.