A Very Active Badger Sett and an Intervention
Updated: Jan 23, 2022
Wildlife Observation Camera
I was starting to lose hope of finding a good spot to watch the main badger sett on the property, but this month I’ve managed to nail it for once. It's so wonderful to see a group of badgers digging, playing, fighting, grooming each other, and generally going about their daily business. Glorious.
It looks near impossible to tell them apart, so I'm not sure if it's the same group of 3 together or a random 2 or 3 from a larger group. They all look broad with good thick fur, and since they have a good energy to play, and dig to expand, I'll guess they're healthy and finding everything they need.
However, one issue has come up in the area the badgers are excavating the soil they're digging out of their tunnels. All their entrances are dug into the banks of a major drainage ditch that drains all the cultivated fields in between the monastery and the railway line, which then drains into the river at our boundary. It really is a large volume of water during storms and Spring weather. A resident in the village told me that the spoil from the tunnels has actually dammed the ditch in the past, which can easily backup all rain water before it gets to the river, and then flood the road through the village.
Thankfully, if that ever happened the badgers would have time to evacuate with a flood of this sort (and in fact their unintentional dam gives them more time to safely get out), while the local council gets unhappy and clears the dam to keep the road open. If the badger group did need to evacuate the sett, they have smaller auxiliary tunnel systems close by to run to. From what I understand, they're smart enough to always have a backup.
Rather than get the council damaging the entrances with a heavy digger, Ollie and I spent an afternoon digging a wide channel for the rain water to keep going down to the river. I've since seen fresh activity on the entrances we dug next to, and I'm hopeful the badgers are understanding about my intervention. Mind you, I did google things like 'do badgers attack if you mess with the entrances' before setting to work.
This image gives a good view of how much earth they excavate and the size of their tunnel system they have to the right. The top of that pile was flat ground to the opposite side of the ditch before we started. Thankfully, (for Ollie and I, and the badgers) the ground is as soft as builder's sand without a single stone. Still, a good workout for the day!
Roe Deer Happy Grazing Near the House
Along with the glorious footage of the badgers, another highlight this month is how close the roe deer come to the house early in the morning. They seem to be comfortable grazing at the end of the old driveway closest to the house in the early hours of the day. There's some great close-up footage that shows them nice and healthy with good quality fur and good fat reserves for the winter when nutritious grass is hard to come by. As a larger mammal that does not hibernate, they can struggle to find enough calories, if a winter gets really hard. Grazing through even a light ground covering of snow is not exactly easy. If it gets really hard this winter, I’ll see if I can get a couple of bales of hay to spread in a secluded spot I know they go. Or I can make a rope-net hung in a tree.