Once again I swapped a relaxing Saturday evening for the dubious pleasures of sitting in a patch of nettles and being ferociously bitten by mosquitoes. To make matters worse, I didn’t see hide nor hair of a badger. To use the fishing expression, I ‘blanked’.
Let me explain. I’ve been down at the Pine Tree sett again, and I’ve been there for a reason. Regular readers will know of my frustration at not being able to recognise individual badgers. In fact, there’s only been a couple of badgers that I could identify reliably.
One of these was a badger I saw last year that was recognisable by a notch or nick in the black stripe, just under the ear. With a startling lack of imagination I name him Nick (although he may be a Nicola – I’ve never been good at sexing badgers). See Fieldnotes: 6th July 2009 for more details.
Here is a picture of Nick, showing the distinctive stripe pattern:
So what has this to do with the Pine Tree sett? Well, all season I’ve been looking out for Nick at the main sett and I haven’t seen him. This is the one badger I can recognise and there’s been no sign of him at all. But – and here’s the interesting part – the single badger I’ve seen at the Pine Tree sett had a very similar notch in its stripe.
Now, it could be that the notch in the stripe is a common feature and more than one badger in the area has it. This could well be the case if it is some sort of inherited feature. On the other hand (and you can see where this is going), it could mean that Nick has left the main sett and moved to the Pine Tree sett. This fits all the evidence so far.
If this is the case then I’ve got an example of a badger moving between setts, which is just the sort of thing I’ve been looking for. Hence I decided to go to the Pine Tree sett to try to get a clear picture of the badger there so I can compare it to Nick.
Unfortunately, although the entrance I watched looked like it is still used regularly, I saw nothing. There’s a good chance the badger was in one of the other holes.
The idea is still sound though. I’ll try to get down again and get a picture before the nights start drawing in.