A magical evening with Badgers on the Mendip Hills

A well-worn badger trail
A well-worn badger trail

We have a brilliant team of volunteers supporting our Community Owls Project, known as ‘Give 2 Hoots’, who organise very special events which help bring people closer to nature whilst also raising funds for our conservation work. On the 24th of April I led one of these events to watch badgers on the Mendip Hills. As always we have to limit the number of attendees to avoid disturbing the wildlife we are watching and this group was the perfect size of just 8 people.
We made our way to the badger sett which sits within a picturesque setting on the Mendip hills. The evening was perfect for the badgers, with some welcome light rain coming after what had been a few weeks of very dry weather. During the walk to the sett I was able to show the group evidence of badger activity including trails and feeding sites where they had been digging for roots. The wind direction was perfect for our watching position on this evening as it was a constant breeze which came from the direction of the sett to where we were sitting, so no chance of the badgers smelling our presence. The sett is situated in a small, steep-sided wooded valley, with a stream running through the bottom. As we settled our senses were overwhelmed by the intoxicating aroma of wild garlic, and the delightful sound of the evening chorus of birdsong. This was to be a quicker dusk than of late as there was heavy cloud cover and drizzle falling, so we didn’t have to wait long for the badgers to emerge. The first badger around appeared at 20:30, so there was still ample light to see it very clearly, the sun having set some 10 minutes earlier. Once the first badger was sure the coast was clear the rest of the family began to join it above ground. We were all thrilled to watch three cubs playing with the sow (female) for quite a time, whilst closer to us and emerging from another entrance hole came the boar (male). He was on a mission and no doubt over excited by the falling rain made his way swiftly towards the now moist meadows surrounding his wood. Oblivious to our presence he trotted right past our group on one of his well-worn pathways, ghosting silently past us in the half-light. Now that the boar had left the area our attention turned back to the rest of the adult badgers, who also moved quite swiftly out to the fields in search of breakfast. The sow and cubs remained near the sett playing for some time, before the sow decided it was time for them to follow the rest of the group into the fields. In all seven badgers were seen and everyone had superb close views and a magical insight into their nocturnal world without the badgers ever knowing we were there. Once all of the badgers had left the vicinity of the sett on their night-time forage we quietly left the area full of joy at what had truly been a magical evening.

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