My only sighting of a badger was seeing a juvenile animal ambling along a coastal path ahead of us several years ago. The opportunity to see more came in the form of an invitation to a Badger Watch from Sussex Wildlife Trust, of which I am a member. So one early evening last week I joined a small group of wildlife enthusiasts on a walk through some ancient Sussex woodland to a viewing platform. I will not say more about the location because the sett has been interfered with in the past and it is necessary to keep it secret.
Our guide was David Plummer, a talented wildlife photographer who has been shooting badgers (in the benign way) for many years. He has in-depth knowledge of badger habits and habitats, and of the world of nature in general. On the way to the platform he pointed out tiny orange-tip butterfly larvae on garlic mustard (also known as Jack-by-the-hedge) plants; on the way back he showed us a young tawny owl practicing its flying under the watchful eyes of its parents.
At the viewing platform we settled down quickly and as quietly as we could, in order not to put off the badgers from coming out. Wildlife is always unpredictable and we knew it was even possible that we might not see a single badger that night, although David told us there had been some good sightings recently. So we were delighted to see a badger very soon, popping up in one of the big holes that form an entrance to a sett, about 25 metres away. He disappeared again but then came out and hurried a short distance and popped down again out of view. Half an hour later we were rewarded with an extended viewing of a badger scurrying around eating the peanuts that David had so thoughtfully strewn about. Badgers are omnivorous (as gardeners near badger setts know to their cost) but their diet is mostly worms. This animal kept coming back to a fallen tree branch and rooting around under the end for peanuts, worms, insects, or whatever else it could find. Frequently it came very close to our platform and we were able to look down on it very easily. After a while a slightly smaller badger took over the patrol. Both creatures kept our rapt attention for nearly an hour. Other members of the group saw a couple of badgers peering out from under a fallen tree.
As dusk fell we returned to our cars, very satisfied with what we’d seen!
No photographs this time because of the secret location and low light levels.