Once again I’ve been neglecting my badgers. Or leaving them in peace, depending on your perspective.
I actually had a little trip up to the wood last weekend, but although I could hear the badgers, I couldn’t see them. Let me explain. The sett itself is on a small rise in the ground There is a small valley to the north of the sett, with parallel gullies running into it on the east and west of the sett. This means that if you are in the low ground on one side you can only see that side of the sett, as the rise in the ground makes it impossible to see the other side.
The badgers have moved to a part of the sett in the centre of this rise, which, to make matters more difficult, resembles an overgrown first world war battlefield. There are big craters dotted around, no doubt the result of spoil heaps and cave-ins at the sett many generations of badgers ago. This local geography is making the badgers very difficult to watch, so it was not a great surprise that I could hear the whickering noises of badgers at play, but to my frustration they were invisible on the other side of the sett.
This evening everything seemed right for badger watching. It was a Friday evening, my wife was working late, and for once it wasn’t raining. There was a nice breeze blowing in from the west, which meant that I could sit in one of the easily climbed trees on the edge of the sett.
And sure enough, I did see the badgers. The first pair, an adult and a cub, came out of the tangle of undergrowth in the middle of the site at about 8.10pm and sat around the central sett entrance. At about 8.30pm I could see movement in the undergrowth, and through binoculars I could see four or five badgers rolling about, grooming and fighting. With the two that had come out earlier, this made a total of six or seven out at the same time.
I couldn’t make out much detail through the foliage, but the badgers seemed happy and healthy enough. The light had gone too much for any photographs. The long exposure required in dim light means that the badgers are inevitably blurred – they rarely sit still long enough.
By 8.45pm they had moved out into the open, but it was getting too dark to really see what was happening. I use 7×50 binoculars, and they are very good at collecting the available light so that things seem brighter than they with the naked eye, but even so I was struggling to see.
This evening won’t go down as one of the best badger watching sessions ever, but it was nice to get out to the cool freshness of the wood, and good to see that the badgers were still going strong.