This week I had the opportunity to return to a badger sett that I had visited last year. The first night was full of activity with five or more badgers out play-fighting, collecting bedding and looking for food. I know there are around eight adults and sub-adults and hopefully we’ll see some youngsters soon.
Although I was in the perfect spot for watching them, a few small branches made photography difficult and I could only manage a few shots. Also, because my legs went to sleep after the first half hour it was clear that I was going to have to reconsider my positioning.
The second night was different in so many ways. I got there before sunset to give myself the time to set up and get comfortable. I had brought an extra light of my own this time to create a better and more even lighting effect (I opted for continuous lighting as opposed to flash). Anyway, despite this and my new position lying flat on my front under a low branch, I was made to wait almost two hours before seeing my first badger but it was heading in the wrong direction up a path away from the sett. And this is pretty much how the rest of the night went – me lying on a combination of stones, twigs and roots having to listen to badger activity twenty metres away behind a stand of trees!
Anyway, welcome to the unpredictable world of widlife photography! But it’s quiet nights like this that make you appreciate why you do it, that remind you that animals like badgers are wild and that they will do what they want and go where they like on their own watch. And for me, the chance to even see a family at a sett behaving normally within two metres of me just makes it special!
But all is not rosy in the world of Badgers. They are accused of spreading TB among cattle and subsequently costing farmers and taxpayers millions of pounds every year. Although Hilary Benn has repeatedly ruled out a cull in England in favour of further research into alternative methods of controlling the spread of the disease, culling seems to be on the cards in Wales and the church has added their support for a cull in the south-west.
Let me know your thoughts…