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A Very Lucky Night to See 3 Different Species of Wildlife: Badger, Fox and Hedgehog (Part 2)
Getting ready for the badger watching night
Our badger watching evening came, 15th September, as we set after finding the perfect evidence of badger activities. We started getting ready from 4-5 pm. Things we prepared were a mini step ladder, a flat sheet, 2 sets of binoculars, a red light head torch, the fatty parts of sliced ham and meatballs. As animals have a much better sense of smell, we also had a quick shower. We didn’t use a shower gel or shampoo but just water, as they could leave another scent!
Josh cooked pasta for a quick supper at 6-ish, then we set off for an evening adventure. We were a bit concerned about timing, as a reference said arriving an hour before sunset but we left later than we planned… But what else could we do other than trying to get there asap? :s
Parking near the entrance of the woods, Josh took out the ladder and the flat sheet and I grabbed a rucksack that had everything else. Although the sun had already begun to set quite a lot, fortunately, it wasn’t completely dark yet. Following Josh’s lead, we reached ‘Badger City’ which we had named last time during our trace search. While Josh spread the ham fat and the meatballs around the badger paths, I unpacked our bits. A fallen tree trunk was our seat and a healthy tree right next to it covered us up nicely.
Wait, wait, wait, then…
Now, all we had to do was literally sit and wait quietly with a focus on any hint of noise. As the temperature gradually dropped, this was a great test of your physical strength and patience. Occasional owl sounds, rustling leaves and falling acorns were rather nice and relaxing to hear.
As it got even darker, I could barely see any scenery now, meaning I had to guess things solely based on sounds. Every time I heard something moving or sweeping, mixed feelings of thrill, tension, excitement and fear swirled. Though it didn’t help at all, I tried to open my eyes wider and looked up, down, left and right to find where each noticeable sound came from and what it was. :p
Fully relying on hearing for about an hour, I could feel the chill air. Doubting we could actually see a badger that evening, I sent Josh a gesture saying “shall we go now?”. He asked for 5 more minutes and I made an ok sign.
….. When those last 5 minutes were almost over, Josh tapped my arms urgently.
??? Oh…????? Uh?!!!!
….. It was a badger!!
It was way too dark for any photography without a flashlight which I didn’t want to use. (I only have a smartphone, which is definitely not the best device for nighttime wildlife watching!). BUT, with the binoculars, I could see something fairly big moving. Mostly it was only a silhouette; but it was rather remarkable to see vividly a white line on the badger’s face, which gave us the confidence to identify it.
“We’re so lucky!!”
Josh said with excitement as soon as we came out from the woods, letting the badger enjoy the ham fat and the meatballs. We were lucky indeed, considering this was our first attempt for badger watching, let alone our reasoning worked based on the evidence (e.g. setts, pits and the freshness of scat, paths, etc.)! It felt like a classic example for successful badger watching. Josh added that it was actually not that easy to see badgers in the wild!
We headed back with an amazing story to tell Josh’s grandparents. As we got close to town, we also encountered a fox crossing the road! Foxes are so common here that seeing one wasn’t as surprising as the badger, but it was still nice to see some more wildlife. As soon as we arrived, we shared our adventure with the others.
Hedgehogs think my favourite should remain the same…
My favourite wildlife had been hedgehogs since Josh took me to the Shepreth Hedgehog Hospital on my last birthday (sorry red squirrels!), but actually, I hadn’t spotted one in the wild. Of course, rescued ones in the hospital were wild hedgehogs, but I hoped to see healthy ones snuffling about in the wild. So… after watching a wild badger, my loyalty to hedgehogs was about to be tested….. (the night with the badger story hasn’t ended yet!)
As if they noticed my mildly swinging affection, a wild hedgehog appeared in the garden an hour after we arrived home!
Finishing chattering about the exciting badger watching story, I was going to head up for bed soon. Meanwhile, Josh was doing his other jobs in the conservatory with a French door slightly open. Suddenly he called me to come over quietly. Apparently, he heard a hedgehog’s snuffling noise fairly close to the door! Saying ‘Woah, no way… really?’ silently, I followed him out barefoot, approaching the birdbath. Josh then gently shone a red light from his head torch (Top Tip: red light is less disturbing for animals at night) on the spot where he heard a noise.
Gosh…. it really was a hedgehog… ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
It maybe was the same hedgehog I had only heard of from Josh when we were still in a long-distance relationship, which they saw twice last summer. As this hedgehog hunched over with its spines erect, we came back in as soon as we took a photo. And yes, my loyalty to hedgehogs is once again beyond doubt. ‘Sorry, Hedgehog for neglecting my love for you even if it was for less than an hour.’ (I should’ve realised then that this hedgehog in the garden was the master of push-pull with me….)
15 September 2020
Badger Watching (with encounters with a fox and a hedgehog)
– The End –