Lots of people come to Australia hoping to see a kangaroo or a koala. For me in England it was a badger or otter. I daresay my fascination stemmed from the childhood classic, Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, and more specifically the 1980s stop motion television series of the same name, which I can remember watching as a child. Animal people who drove cars, dressed in snappy outfits and had wonderful adventures – what wasn’t to love?!
Adam has always had a bit of a soft spot for badgers. He even gave me a badger mug at Christmas! The vineyard he lived at before moving to Australia was frequently visited by badgers and an allotment he maintained near the village of Cradley, west of the Malvern Hills, was near a woodland where badgers lived. His stories of watching badgers snuffling about seemed magical and he was keen to share the experience with me.
So one evening last week, we made the short journey to Cradley to look for badgers.
It’d been a ‘hot’ day by English standards (26 degrees celsius) and twilight was balmy and still. We parked the car and started walking down a narrow lane, coming across a herd of Hereford cows and the calves, happily munching away on hedge.
Adam showed me the plot of land he rented for his allotment and I instantaneously fell in love with the garden shed he used on site. Isn’t it just the most wonderful, characterful filled building?
We crossed a field full of blooming buttercups (and fresh cowpats!) and stopped to admire the beautiful pink-hued sunset.
It was almost 9:30pm by the time we reached the woodland. Badgers are nocturnal you see, so the best chance you’ve got seeing them is right at dusk when they leave their sett for the evening.
The woods we walked through were quite open, somewhat reminiscent of eucalyptus forests in Australia. A few bluebells were still feebly flowering and I spotted masses of mushrooms poking their caps up through the soil.
Adam found a badger sett (on the side of a steep hill underneath a tall tree) and found a good waiting spot upwind. We settled in on a comfortable log and waited. It was lovely. A cool breeze was blowing and birds were roosting for the night, squawking their final tunes before settling in. We sat in the dark, whipping our heads around when we heard twigs break. After about 40 minutes of waiting the sun had truly set and we decided we better make a move before it got too late.
We checked the sett by torchlight before we left – fresh badger poo was at the entrance. The badgers had snuffled away for the evening, but we’d missed them! It was a little disappointing, but we’ll definitely try again over the next few weeks.
Have you seen badgers in the wild? Any tips or hints about finding the best spots to watch them?!