Wednesday 28 February 2024

50 Years of Badgers.

 Back in 1974, at the age of 15, I found a Badger sett at Offham. A couple of days later, or should I say nights later, on the 19th February I walked from home in Lewes, to Offham and prepared to wait until I had seen my very first Badger.

As it was, I didn't have to wait too long as at 6pm a Badger walked along a path that I was standing nearby, before going down a large entrance to the sett about 10 feet in front of me. A few minutes later it came out again and wandered down the bank where it went out of view. After that, according to my notes of the evening, it made a large noise!! I can still remember my first sighting of that Badger as if it was only a few weeks ago. From that moment I was 'hooked'!!

That was without a doubt an evening that changed my life, as I started studying this iconic animal, seeing them at several sites in the vicinity, mostly travelling by foot or pushbike. (That's me and not the Badger of course)!!

It was only a little over a year before I had my 50th evening of watching Badgers. I was so mad keen on them that my nickname at school was 'BadgerBob'.

I kept notes of every evening right up until my 151st evening on 5th April 1976. I guess it's not too much of a surprise that I slowed down on the Badger watching after this time as by then I had met Penny!! However, although I did slow down I still went quite frequently, and I had many memorable evenings of Badger watching with friends and family members. I remember vividly taking my Dad. He was sitting up one tree whilst I was up another. We were both looking at a Badger, but not the same one. We were both pointing to the one we were looking at wondering why the other one wasn't taking any notice!!

Penny also came many times, as did my Mum a few times. I must have spent well over 2000 hours over the years watching these wonderful animals. It brings much pleasure knowing Matt enjoys the odd evening of watching them over in Hampshire. Chris also occasionally enjoys an evening out on the Downs watching them.

My lovely Mother-in-law has also reminded me that she too came with me a few times!! I even brought her back!!

Over the years I have rarely taken photographs of them. I did have a few 35mm slides, which have probably gone mouldy now. A handful of digital photos are all I have now. I do have one of the very first colour photos of a mating pair, which was probably from February 1975 or 1976. Fortunately I did take a digital copy of this photo, which I have literally just found whilst writing this blog!! Looking at it I should perhaps photoshop out the dust spots.

Mating Badgers.

 (one of the first colour images of this ).

My digital photos below, and a special thanks to my friend Dave Palmer for inviting myself and then a few days later, Penny too, to see them in his garden. By this time Penny wasn't well enough to go trekking over the Downs, so it was wonderful she was able to see one at close range at Dave's. She really was so excited to see a Badger after so many years.

The lovely Badger from Dave's garden.

Badger Cub.

Badger Cub in the late sunshine.

Sow Badger.

These are all from the South Downs National Park near Lewes.

As my 50th anniversary of seeing my first Badger came nearer I have wondered if I could see a Badger on the 19th February this year. I went a few weeks ago to a local sett and saw one, and then, Lisa and I found a really good looking sett at the back of Worthing. The week before the 19th we both went and tried at this sett. We were really pleased to see a couple of Badgers here. They also came out around the same time, at around 5.50pm. As it was, I was in Worthing of the week of the anniversary, and as the weather was good I set off full of confidence. Lisa was away skiing in France, but as I was having work done at home I stayed at hers to avoid all the noise!! I got to the sett in plenty of time and waited, and waited. Unfortunately, after all the plans, the Badgers had different ideas and stayed in until I had given up, after 3 hours!!  A real shame. I guess my scent had got to a hole that I was unaware of, as it was a sett I wasn't that familiar with. On the way back to the car however, a Badger was seen on the path some distance away. It was a relief to actually see one on my 50th though!!

I am now so lucky that Lisa is also really keen on wildlife, and is keen to do some Badger watching in the future. I might even add to my few photos in the near future.

Here's to the next 50 years. Well, probably not I guess.

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