I must confess that I’ve been taking advantage of the long, warm evenings to sneak out after work for a quick walk around the field behind my house. I’ve been hoping to find stoat tracks or, even better, catch a glimpse of the stoat itself.
Unfortunately I’ve had no luck with the stoat, nor with the tracking. The ground is baked too hard for me to make out any clear tracks. I’m pretty hefty, and even I barely leave a mark on the rock-like clay. I can find patches where the dust has been disturbed but I have no idea what has passed by. Something as small as a stoat would leave very little trace.
But one of things about a field like this is that there’s always something to be seen if you look. I mentioned that the field is on the regular beat of a badger. I haven’t seen its tracks lately, but I did find one of its feeding signs – a dug-out wasps’ nest. Badgers are (as far as I know) the only animals that will do this. They aren’t after the adult wasps, but the juicy, protein-rich larvae. Dry spells, like the one we’re in now, aren’t good for badgers. It’s harder for them to find and dig up worms so they need to look for alternative sources of food. Wasps’ nests are ideal.
I didn’t get too close. I have no desire to be stung by a wasp. I suffer from an allergy to wasp stings that makes me swell up like a balloon, which accounts for why I hate the little horrors. Badgers obviously have no such problems. Some people have speculated that their thick fur protects them from stings to some extent. As far as I’m concerned, they can eat all the wasps they want…