Continuing in my efforts to understand the local badger population, I paid a visit to the Beech Tree sett this evening. It was a good reminder that successful badger watching involves more than just finding a sett and plonking yourself down and waiting for the badgers.
Packing my camouflage umbrella to keep off the steady drizzle I arrived shortly before 8.00pm. The sett is on the side of a wide shallow dell, thick with bracken, but I found a nice spot with my back against an old coppiced hazel where I could look out over the sett. I was quite a distance away, but I was here for observation and counting badger numbers rather than close-up photography.
About ten minutes after I arrived I heard a rustle in the undergrowth and a turned to see a badger trotting up the way I had come, disappearing into the bracken behind me. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be – the badgers were supposed to come out of the sett! These badgers are obviously not used to being watched: they don’t know the rules.
I stayed until 9.00pm, listening to a young tawny owl squeaking somewhere nearby, quite dry despite the rain under a double canopy of pine trees above and hazel below. No more badgers appeared, so I assume they’d left early before I arrived. Possibly they’re out early to get the most foraging time in the leaner dry weather. As it stands, my count of badgers at this sett stands at just one. I’ll need more visits to get a more accurate count, but it’s a pleasant spot to spend an evening so I expect I’ll be back soon.