As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
Looking for a brilliant present for a young naturalist ? Buy my book ! Available from Amazon UK,
Amazon US and worldwide but buy from a local bookshop if you can.

Finding the badgers


For a long time, whenever anyone asked what wildlife lived near me, I always used to say that there were no badgers nearby.  Even though I had often seen badgers dead by the motorway, about 15 miles south of here, I always assumed that there weren't any nearby.

I had asked the local gamekeepers, all of whom denied seeing anything nearby, and I had kept my eyes open but never saw anything even close.  Even after I found the dead badger about a mile from my house, I didn't get much further. It was only in the last few months that I decided to take a closer look...and this is what I found !

The clues

I really only had three clues to go on to start with. One was the dead badger, about a mile south of my village. The second was that a gamekeeper told my dad that he had seen a dead badger on the main road, about 1.5 miles away. And then, while my trail camera was in a wood looking for pine marten, I got this blurred still:

It wasn't very clear, but if this wasn't a badger, it certainly looked like one !

The trail camera was in the same wood for about a month after that, but didn't pick up anything else. . Had I been wrong ?

The wood it was in was one of about four major woods which were close together, and were quite isolated. The blurred photo was taken in the eastern most of the woods, so next I moved the camera to the next wood to the west, and left it there for a week while I was on holiday. It filmed foxes, woodpeckers, squirrels and roe deer - but no badger. (I blogged about it here)

I almost gave up, but the next place I moved the camera to was a path in trees which ran east-west from an open field to one of the thicker woods. I could tell it was used a lot, and could see deer footprints, but was it used by badgers as well ?

I left it there for a week. It filmed deer - which I expected - then it filmed another four legged cloven-hoofed mammal I didn't expect to see at all !

A herd of cows had broken out of the field next door, and were loose in the woods. It even filmed the farmer chasing them back in !

But what was more interesting was this video:

I couldn't quite make it out, but it walked like a badger, was about the right size, and was filmed early in the morning (about 4am).  Then as I checked through the trail cam footage I found this still from a few days later !

It filmed the badger heading east along the path at 10pm one night, then back west at 4.38am the next morning. These times were close to sunrise and sunset, so from this I guessed the sett was west of the trail camera, but not too far away.

Searching for the sett

Of the four woods in that area, I know three of them quite well, and one not very well, so I started with the one I didn't know so well. I was looking for multiple tunnels in a hill close to open land.

The wood to the north, which I didn't know as well, I drew a blank. I couldn't even find any tracks nearby. Then I searched the western wood. It was difficult, because there were many fallen trees making most of it difficult to explore.

Then at the last minute, I remembered an area of that wood where I had written this blog post. I remembered there was a raised area in the wood, and searched for it. I almost couldn't find it, because it was well hidden, more than I remembered it.

I looked around. There were lots of tunnels, the soil was dry (but surrounded by marshy ground) and some of the tunnels had spoil heaps outside which were freshly dug.

Was this the spot ? There was only one way to find out. I left my trail camera there for a few nights. You can see it here on the left. It was difficult to know which hole to aim the camera at, but I focused the camera on the newish holes. 

Was this it ?

After a few days, I went back, as far away from sunset or sunrise as I could manage, so not to disturb the badgers. 

It's always exciting looking at trail camera footage, and this was the most exciting yet. I was looking at the shots out of order, so the first stills I saw were of a young roe deer buck:

And a fox. Could this be a fox den ?

But then I saw....

BADGERS !!! This was a sett after all ! And because the trail camera was shooting both videos and stills, I got some great videos as well:

I could identify two different adults. One had a white patch on its back, which was distinctive, and was always by itself:

And the other one ? That must be the mother....because she had three cubs ! If this next video isn't the cutest thing you have ever seen then I don't know what is !

So this is my big project at the moment, filming the sett, and trying to understand the badgers. They have a good routine, and it's great observing them. A lot of naturalists my age have been observing badgers near them for a while (like Georgia Locock), but this is all new to me, and I'm really looking forward to it !

Enjoy this post ? Share it !


Tearoom Delights said...

Great little videos. Lovely to see the badgers.

Alice Mae Lewis said...

Badgers are fascinating animals. I hear there is quite a bit of prejudice against them in the UK. They face an uphill battle in the western USA as well!

Daisy Debs said...

Beautiful creatures !

Jake said...

It was a brilliant feeling seeing them for the first time on the trailcam.

Jake said...

There is. A lot of beef and dairy farmers really don't want them on their land, but they are protected species.

Alice Mae Lewis said...

Not much protection for them here. A few states do, but its usually limited. They certainly don't get much respect! Unless of course, you come across one in the wild... then you have the greatest of respect for them. (I know that from personal experience! :) )

Free counters!