On Saturday I watched the southern entrance of the Pine Tree sett without seeing any badgers. It looks as though there should be badgers in residence – there’s plenty of fresh spoil and well-used paths – so maybe it was just an odd coincidence that they came out late, or maybe I disturbed them somehow.
To make sure, I went back to this part of the sett on Tuesday. Once again, I saw no badgers. I’m coming to the conclusion that there are no badgers in this particular hole.
It was still a worthwhile outing, with plenty to see. I noticed that at the northern hole the badgers have stripped the bark off a young sycamore tree and eaten it. At least, I presume it was badgers – the tree is right next to the sett and it was stripped of bark up to 3 feet high, so I don’t think anything else could have done it.
Neal and Cheeseman mention that badgers will sometimes eat sycamore bark in early spring when the sap is rising. It is almost midsummer now, but perhaps the recent dry spell has made other food less available, so the badgers are having to expand their diet. I’ll keep an eye on this. I’d rather not feed them, but I don’t want them to go hungry either.