As I walked up the field to the wood it was apparent that the badgers have been feeding more on the wheat in the field. From the look of it, they trample down the stalks and then strip the grain from the heads. There were small patches of bent stalks and eaten heads of wheat all up the path, with a few heads evidently carried off into the next field as a snack. There was even more grain in the dung in this field, suggesting that it forms a substantial part of the diet for at least some of the badgers. Perhaps one night when there’s a full moon I should come down here and see if I can spot them at it.
In case you feel bad about the spoiled grain, I’d point out that it represents a tiny, tiny fraction of one percent of the wheat in the field. There’s no chance that these badgers will be the ruin of any farmers.
It turns out that the badgers were in an odd mood this evening. To explain what went on I need to paint you a picture of this particular sett. The sett is evidently quite an old one. The main part of the sett is a mass of mounds and craters, resembling an overgrown first world war battlefield, that has evidently been produced by the spoil heaps and collapsed tunnels of many generations of badgers.
This part of the sett is on the east of the site, and although it has been the main scene of activity in previous years, it appears not to be used at the moment. The badgers this year having been using another cluster of three entrances about 60-70 yards to the west, and also a single entrance in between the two sites. For simplicity, I’ll refer to the east, west and central holes in my diary. There may be an underground link between the west and central holes, but it is difficult to say for sure. It seems that all the badgers use both the west and central holes at times, with the west being the most popular at the moment.
After my experience with the little cub last week I arrived early, and was sitting comfortably in a tree well before 7.00pm. Usually the cubs have been the first to emerge, but this time it was an adult from the central hole. This badger seemed to have a light patch of fur on its hindquarters, but whether this is a permanent feature I don’t know. It trotted off to the east, where in addition to the unused sett there is the main latrine site for the group, and then returned a few minutes later and disappeared underground again. Perhaps it was just an urgent call of nature.
For the next hour and a half nothing happened. I watched the local rabbits and a squirrel, and the buzzard came swooping through the wood, but there were no badgers.
One of the cubs emerged from the west entrance at about 8.45, followed shortly after by another. They seemed to be sticking close to the sett entrance. A few minutes after this, three adults came out of the central hole, and sat around for a few minutes having a bit of a mutual grooming session.
All the badgers seemed a bit on edge. I wonder if they’d caught a sniff of my scent. The wind was quite strong, but it was gusting from all directions, now one way, now the other, so it was possible that my scent was being carried around. Not enough to make them bolt, but enough to make them wary.
The light was fading too, so I decided to call it a night. As usual, I’ve come away with more questions than answers. Why were the badgers all out late tonight? Where has the little cub gone? Is there a reason why the adults were coming out of one hole and the cubs another? I guess I’m going to have to put some more watching time in to try and answer these.