OK. So far, I haven’t much success with the badgers at the Hawthorn Sett. I have yet to answer the fundamental question of how many badgers there are. If I can find this out, I can see how it changes over the year to come. It’s part of my overall master plan to understand more about the badgers in the area, and how the different setts relate to each other.
But first things first. I’d be happy at the moment just to see the badgers.
My last trip wasn’t very successful. I spent an uncomfortable evening in a tree without seeing the badgers emerge. I have an idea that the badgers are late to emerge here. I decided the best way to test this idea would be to lay siege to the sett – to sit and wait until the badgers finally came out.
This evening I came prepared. By 5.00pm I was sitting comfortably on an inflatable cushion (on the ground!), night vision scope ready on a tripod, flask of hot tea handy for morale purposes. I was nicely downwind of the sett and well camouflaged. It was textbook badger watching stuff.
Unfortunately, no badgers appeared. I had a fallow deer stag walk past, it’s broad antlers silhouetted against the sky. I see female fallow deer quite often, but stags only rarely. But this was the highlight of the evening. No badgers. I watched and waited until a little after 8.00pm. I had planned to stay later, but it was difficult to stay alert after watching and listening in the dark for three hours, straining eyes and ears for any signs of badgers, and the light and warmth of home were beckoning to me. Badger watching in the dark months of winter obviously needs more dedication than the summer sessions that I’m used to.
So I still don’t have an answer to my question, and I still don’t know when these badgers come out. But they should come out by 8.00pm, shouldn’t they? Neal & Cheeseman report an average emergence time of c.5.45pm for early November, so for no badgers to show by 8.00pm is odd. It’s obviously a badger sett (and I have seen a badger here before) otherwise I’d be doubting whether there are badgers at all. I’ll maybe give it another try this year, or I may put this sett on the back burner until spring. Perhaps in the meantime I’ll make a few trips in the daylight to get positive signs that the badgers are still in residence.