Wednesday, 8 April 2015

April 8th Reepham

Tonight is Badger Night. Dad and I have come to Reepham to meet my friend Dan who is hoping to show us badgers for the first time. A major footpath near the town (Marriot's Way, I think) has plenty of badger setts along it. Last year, we attempted Badger Night before in May but failed to see any due to noisy motorbikes. This year, Dan was going to take us to two setts so we could choose which one to sit and wait at.

The first choice was a sett Dan had recently discovered on a cultivated field near to a fence. He showed us badger prints and pug marks in the ground which the badgers have dug up with their claws and their snout imprinting in them. We also found possible latrines but there was no sign of any badger poo.
Badger Print
Badger digging marks
Badger Sett Choice One

Our next choice was where we were before last year but from the bottom (we were at the top last time). This involved going through an obstacle course of wire fencing, low branches, rough terrain and slightly steep slopes to get to a grassy field overlooking the embankment potted with sett entrances. Dan has permission to come here, so I was less worried about trespassing. On the way, we found paths that the badgers use every night, kept bare by their low bodies rubbing against the ground. The wired fencing was easy for them as they could go under it. I, on the other hand, had to climb over in comical fashion. I needed both Dan and Dad to get me over two sections of the fence.

Badger trail
Pathway under the fence
As the obstacle course took a bit of time to get to the sett, plus I didn't want to do that all over again, we decided to stay at this second choice for our Badger Night. While Dad and I got our seats ready for the expected long wait, Dan got his bag of goodies out to entice the badgers out and stay into view longer. He threw out peanuts and raisans and smeared honey outside the sett entrances and near the fence at the bottom of the embankment. Now all we needed to do now was wait.

Badger embankment covered in sett holes
Dan entices the badgers out
It actually didn't take that long until we saw our first sighting to appear. At 7:37pm, something bright white with black stripes emerged from one of the entrances. My first ever badger! Dan tells me it was a male or boar badger, the head of the sett, He popped his head out long enough for a photo, before disappearing down the hole again. The light was beginning to fade rapidly until he re-emerged 20 minutes later. Ten minutes after that, he came back up for a third time and left the safty of his sett to feed. He was joined by a second and then, from another entrance, a third but both were not as bold as the boar and they stayed in the sett. There might have been a forth or more, but at this point, it was so dark that I could barely see them.
My First Badger!!
Out he comes!!
Badger number two
but it was too shy

While waiting for our badgers, the other wildlife were letting themselves known to us. The song of a song thrush at dusk, tawny owls hooting and calling by nightfall, pheasants crowing all around us (scaring me half to death sometimes) and there was even the squeaking croaks of woodcocks at somepoint. Dad swears he saw a fox look at him and dart away, but I couldn't see it in the near darkness. I did manage to see a pipistrelle bat fly in the twilight sky. Eventually, it was too dark to see anything, so we called it quits. This of course means doing the obstacle course in the dark with Venus and Jupiter bright in the night sky.
Venus in the night sky

1 comment:

  1. That's brilliant - you are so lucky! The only setts I know about are in the woods up in the hills and I'm much too scared to sit out there in the dark. I'll have to put the trail camera out again though. Well done!