Yesterday was a black and white-letter day for badgers when the Badger Trust won their appeal to stop the cull in Pembrokeshire. It reminded me that I've neglected this blog for far too long and prompted me to write up my badger-watching evening in early June.
It was pouring with rain as we headed uphill through woodland on a chalk scarp to a rudimentary bench positioned above an old sett. These holes are no longer in use as the badgers have moved along the hill, but they still remember the peanuts scattered by the local ranger and return to forage regularly.
Badgers are not the least bit bothered by a bit of rain, especially when it brings worms and other delicious morsels like slugs out into the open. Two badgers were rooting around on the edge of the slope when we arrived, but shot off on hearing our footfalls. A little later a shy rural fox eyeballed us from the meadow below, decided we were dangerous to know and trotted off.
After an hour, three badgers (an adult and two cubs) appeared in the field at the foot of the hill and two emerged from the woods higher up. Slowly they hoovered their way around the piles of nuts, snuffling audibly. They didn't even look up when a large herd of Ayrshire cattle trudged past the fence, mooing loudly and reaching up into the trees for new shoots.
My closest encounter came when a young badger popped up a few metres to my left from behind a large tree stump. He was so near, I could hear him munching peanuts and I'm amazed it took him ten minutes to catch my scent and make his exit.