As I write this it’s blowing a gale outside, with squalls of cold rain gusting about. I was supposed to be harvesting the last of my potatoes today, but I’ve retreated in the face of the weather and the hope that tomorrow will be better.
It is odd to think that two weeks ago I was sitting on a beach basking in the sunshine, and even more remarkable when that beach was in North Wales. It was a very pleasant holiday – lots of fishing, walking and generally taking things easy.
The elusive red squirrels, alas, eluded me. I spent a couple of days walking around Newborough forest, and though there was plenty of sign in the form of gnawed pine cones, the squirrels themselves were nowhere to be seen. Still, it gives me an excuse to go back there.
Back home, there’s sad news for me. A badger was killed this week on the main road, about a quarter of a mile from my house. This is not one of ‘my’ badgers, or at least it isn’t from the sett that I watch – that’s on the other side of the village. It is however in the area where I take my regular tracking walks, and may even be the badger that I’ve tracked in the field behind my house.
Road accidents account for a large proportion of badger deaths; they are possibly the biggest cause of death. Every year there is a grim toll of casualties. Unfortunately, badgers seem to have little road sense. I’ve twice had badgers run across the road in front of my car, and both times they’ve dashed across without even seeming to look.
Since I moved here five years ago I’ve seen three dead badgers by the side of the roads in this area. The accidents all seem to occur at this time of year. I think that as the nights get longer, the badger’s routines come into conflict with those of humans. During the summer, it gets light before anyone is up and about, so the badgers are safely home before the morning traffic starts. Now the mornings are getting darker their paths are more likely to cross ours, with tragic results.
I took a walk down the road to have a look. I get particularly annoyed when I walk along road verges, as they always seem to be littered with crisp packets, fast food wrappers and plastic bottles thrown away by the ignorant and vulgar motorists. I can’t understand what makes people drive through the countryside tossing out crap from their car windows. If I could only catch them in the act I’d learn them a lesson, believe me.
The dead badger was on the verge. It is a sad end for such a creature, but then I can’t really blame anyone. I drive a car and I drive down this road, so it could well have been me. There was a badger path a little way off, so it seems like the badger was returning home after foraging when the accident happened.
I walked home along the route I use on my regular tracking walks, hoping to see fresh badger tracks that would prove that it wasn’t the badger I have been tracking lying there. Unfortunately the wind and the rain had polished the sandy ground smooth, so there were no tracks at all to be seen. I’ll have a look tomorrow, weather permitting, and see if any animals have been down there overnight.