This year I plan to bring you 30 Nights Wild, reporting all the action from my local badger sett in Yorkshire, throughout the month of June.
I'll be following this small clan as they go about their evening
activities of foraging, grooming, collecting bedding and cleaning out
the sett. Will the badgers turn up every night? They never do on
I've been watching this sett for the last eight years and every year is different, largely depending on the number of cubs they produce. Last year they had two cubs and there were six badgers in residence by autumn. Now there are just three adults and one new cub.
Badger identification can be tricky. Mature males are more heavily built
than females, but in younger males the differences are not that
obvious. At this sett, the dominant sow Theresa has a distinctive torn
left ear. The tail on a male badger is generally thinner and whiter than
Males' tails are narrower and whiter than females'
At last, the wind dropped and we had a dry night. I went back up my ladder to watch the badgers, but left a camera on the ground to get some eye-level photos. It's been a while since I used the Wi-Fi on that camera, so I tested it out with my tablet before setting off. I positioned the camera carefully and got to my seat.
As I was turning on the tablet, a badger appeared at the hole on my left. Nicola emerged and was soon joined by Nigel. He was in just the right position for a photo, but I had no Wi-Fi connection - very frustrating.
Jeremy joined the cubs and they hoovered up all the peanuts before wandering off through the brambles to the big oak tree. They played on the slippery logs underneath, with Jeremy joining in, then they all had a chase around the centre of the sett, largely obscured from my view by brambles and bracken. The cubs had a final check of the feeding site, to make quite sure there were no peanuts left, and the clan went off into the woods.
I checked the weather forecast earlier in the day and was expecting a shower early in the evening and fine weather for badger watching. However, the rain came later than expected, starting just as I arrived at the sett.
As I approached the feeding site to put out some peanuts for the badgers, I was just in time to see the mother and cub heading out towards the field. I waited under the trees for a while until the rain eased off, then took my seat three metres off the ground.
A damp evening like this is great for badgers, as it brings earthworms to the surface where they can be easily hoovered up. Earthworms make up about 80% of a badger's diet. I had a long wait in persistent drizzle before a very damp badger returned from the fields to take a few peanuts.