So, my plan was a simple one. Spend the evening down at the north entrance of the Pine Tree sett, photograph the resident badger, and match the pictures of its distinctive facial markings with those of ‘Nick‘ from the main sett last year. If the markings are the same then there’s a good chance that the lone badger at the Pine Tree sett is in fact one that has moved away from the main sett. This will be great evidence for movement of individuals between neighboring setts.
Sunday was a beautiful day and a lovely warm dry evening – just right for a lazy session of badger watching. All I needed was one clear picture. With such a simple plan, what could possibly go wrong?
The wind at the sett was blowing from east to west, which meant that I couldn’t sit on the bank and look down at the hole – the wind would blow my scent straight to the badger. Instead I settled down on the other side of the sett, behind a large bank of nettles.
To increase my chances of getting a picture I broke my own rule and put out some food for the badger. I didn’t plan to do this, but I walked past a crab apple tree on the edge of the wood and I picked up a half-dozen or so ripe fruits off the ground. I know I’ve said I don’t like feeding badgers because it takes away their natural behaviour, but in my defence I wasn’t here to study, I was just here for a picture.
At precisely 7.30pm a stripey nose poked out of the hole.
The badger came out slowly, snaffled up the crab apples and wandered around the area for a few minutes.
I could see the distinctive notch on its facial stripe, but could I get a clear picture of it? The picture below is as clear as I got – you can see the notch in the stripe, just behind the ear, but it isn’t a great picture of the badger’s face.
Each time I took a picture, the badger disappeared behind a nettle. Spot the difference between the picture above and the one below (I’ll give you a clue – where’s the crab apple?)
This was obviously a camera shy badger.
You’d think I could line up one decent shot between the nettles, wouldn’t you?
I could have laughed out loud – all I wanted was one good picture. Badgers have an uncanny knack of bringing you back down to earth with a bump.
So was it Nick from the main sett? I like to think so, although I can’t be absolutely positive. There is a big similarity in the facial markings, and the fact that I haven’t seen Nick at the main sett this year seems to point in this direction. It looks like I may have got some evidence for a young male badger moving out to a neighboring sett.