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I mentioned that my efforts to track down and watch badgers after they have left the sett have only been quite fleeting so far.  Well, things are going to change.

To celebrate my 2½ week anniversary in my new job, I’ve bought myself a night vision scope.  Check out this bad boy:

Night Vision MonocularActually, I’ve been thinking about getting one for a while.  I’ve just been waiting until one came up cheap on eBay.

I haven’t tried it out properly yet, only around the garden, but it really does work.  The image is green and a bit fuzzy but you can see in the dark.  This could potentially change my badger watching habits a lot.  I’m definitely going to spend some time out in the fields this weekend.

Night Vision View

If people think it’s suspicious that I go out in the evenings with a camouflage jacket and a pair of binoculars, what on earth will they think about me going out with a night vision device too?

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Drunken Badgers

I’m getting a little worried about the decline in moral standards on this blog.  I seem to have become fixated on badger genitalia.  It’s only a matter of time before someone sends a letter to the Daily Mail – “My daughter was researching a school project on badgers and all she found was a video of badger testicles – why don’t the government ban this sick filth now?!”

So, in an attempt to raise the tone, here is a pair of amusing, educational and morally instructive stories sent in by readers about drunk badgers.

The first was found by Mungo:

A badger in Germany got so drunk on over-ripe cherries it staggered into the middle of a road and refused to budge.

A motorist called police near the central town of Goslar to report a dead badger on a road – only for officers to turn up and discover the animal alive and well, but drunk.

Police discovered the nocturnal beast had eaten cherries from a nearby tree which had turned to alcohol and given the badger diarrhoea.

Having failed to scare the animal away, officers eventually chased it from the road with a broom.

Oh, the mental images this conjours up!  The second story is a more personal experience from Josie:

A friend of mine runs a wildlife hospital and one night he received a call about an injured badger and fox lying in someones front garden, close to a road.

When he arrived he found the pair to be uninjured but blind drunk – both of them staggering around the place after gorging themselves on fermenting apples from a nearby orchard.

It was too unsafe to leave the drunk & disorderly pair so close to the road so they were gently guided into a cage with the aid of a walking stick.

By the time they arrived at the hospital the badger was snoring loudly.
The wildlife hospital provided them with bed and ‘breakfast’ and then they were released back on their home patch the following evening – after they had slept their hangovers off!

That was one little badger that had a brilliant “you will never guess what happened to me the other night” tale to tell his mates back at the sett!

Thanks for these, guys.  This is exactly what this blog was created for – sharing stories about drunk animals.  Now, if anyone has any video on this subject I’ll use it to really lower the tone…

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We’re jamming
I wanna jam it with you,
We’re jamming, jamming
And I hope you like jamming too
(Bob Marley)


Making Raspberry Jam

Making Raspberry Jam

OK, this is another one of those diary posts.  Over the last week my wife and I have picked 2.6kg of blackcurrants.  After freezing some this left a nice, round 2kg for making jam.

I didn’t really understand jam until a couple of years ago when we started getting a surplus of fruit from the garden.  Rather than buying fruit at any time of the year from the supermarket, we now get more than we can possibly eat for a month and then nothing for the other 11 months of the year.  We need to find a way to preserve it.

Being interested in the idea of primitive living I like to use good, old fashioned methods.  I live in a Victorian farm workers’ cottage and I like to try to carry on the old ways as much as I can.  We’ve tried all sorts of ways of bottling, pickling and drying the produce from the garden.

Raspberry Jam 2Hence the jam.  Proper home-made blackcurrant jam is a real treat.  Unlike shop-bought jam that tastes of nothing but sugar and something vaguely synthetic, our jam has a really intense fruit flavour.  It tastes like the very essence of the fruit itself.  I love it.  Unknown to my wife I have a jar in the fridge and I eat a spoonful every now and then when I fancy something sweet.  It’s nicer than anything from the sweet shop.

Anyway, enough rambling.  I’ve made raspberry jam and blackcurrant jam, to say nothing of the cherries in syrup.  It’ll be time for the blackberries soon…

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Getting even further away from badgers, but another date for the diary.  I left my job today.  I’d been there nearly ten years, so it was a wrench to go.  They are good people.

On Monday I start a new job as Director of Talent Management for a well-respected firm of business psychologists in London.

Busy, busy, busy, as we Bokononists say…

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I came across this site the other day, and I think that it’s definitely worthy of  a mention.

Ampthill Wild

Steve writes about the local wildlife here in Bedfordshire, backed up with some great pictures.  More importantly, he’s out there getting people interested in the animals on their doorstep.   You don’t have to be in Bedfordshire to enjoy it.

Check out his site.  In particular, check out the excellent pictures of the College Lake polecats – probably the most famous polecats in the country since they were featured on Springwatch!

Well worth a look…

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Having watched badgers for a few years now, I’ve decided that I want to do my bit for the badgers in my area.  I am pleased to say that I have joined the Bedfordshire Badger Network.

Affiliated to the Bedfordshire Natural History Society, the Network is run by volunteers who give up their time to monitor and help conserve badgers in the county. As well as dealing with day-to-day badger-related matters such as giving advice to on what to about badgers in their garden, the Network has a history of research, including some fascinating (and very broad-ranging) bait marking studies.

I will be helping to check and map setts in my local area, helping to maintain the already impressive register of badger activity.  This is pretty much what I’ve been doing already, but now my badger watching will be contributing in a small way to the overall body of knowledge.  The added benefit for me is that I’ll be able to learn from people far more experienced than me.

I’ll still be the same rough, tough independent badger watcher, but it’s good to know that I’m doing something to help out.

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I picked up a book in a charity shop the other day (I’m a cheapskate!) and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in the same sort of things as me.

The book is Simon King’s Wildguide, published by the BBC in 1994.  This is the same Simon King off the TV, the star of Springwatch and similar.

Now I’m not as a rule impressed by people just because they’re celebrities, and normally I stay clear of TV tie-in books as they are usually nice and glossy but light on content, but this one really is excellent.  It is basically a practical guide to observing, photographing and filming British Wildlife.  It’s packed full of useful information, from how to camouflage yourself with mud (and why you shouldn’t go to the shops afterwards) to equipment and techniques.

The book covers a wide range of species, from mammals to birds, with details of how to find, track and watch them.  All of these are brought to life with refreshingly honest stories and examples.

You can get it from Amazon at an exorbitant price, or check out your local library, but it’s worth the effort to track down a copy if you can get it at a decent price.  It’s certainly earned a place on my crowded bookshelves.

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