We have had some mysterious goings on in the garden in recent weeks which have led to wood craft books being consulted and much peering out of the back windows at night.
It all started about three weeks ago when I noticed that the bark chip on the paths was really churned up. I assumed it was the birds looking for insects etc as they love rummaging in the woodchip for goodies. About a week later I was in the garden again and in the same area and this time not only was the path churned up but the pots that were sitting on the path were toppled over (as you can see). However there were clear indications, aside from the toppled pots, that whatever was doing this was quite large. I had a tray of 9″ pots of seedlings which had been literally chucked over the edge of the path and down the slope, scattering the seedlings everywhere. Clearly this wasn’t the work of birds but of something bigger. Maybe a squirrel? After all we have had more in the garden this year obviously not so scared of the cat, although she nearly caught one yesterday. But I don’t think so as I have never experienced that sort of activity from squirrels.
I looked harder at the boundary fences and lo and behold the fence panel behind the woodstore had had its slats pushed apart and something had obviously crawled under it. Looking at the other side of the garden, there was evidence that the same thing had tried to go under the fence into the next garden but had failed. This is because many years ago we had problems with wild rabbits and I think my neighbours had rabbit proofed the fence. We still were unsure what was causing the damage so my son went to great lengths to secure the fence and piled up some Malvern stone (granite) at the bottom of the fence.
A couple of days later we checked out the garden and the stone had been moved, quite a way, and a hole dug under the fence. My son, a keen woodsman had the books out looking at tracks etc, and we speculated that it might be a badger or a fox. Our conclusion was that a fox could easily jump over a fence so why go to all that trouble so we wondered if it could be a badger. There has been no sign of badgers the 8 years we have lived here and considering that we live on a housing estate with relatively small gardens it did seem unlikely.
Then last week there was stifled loud whisper from upstairs and my son, in a weird sort of off stage prompt voice, was saying ‘Mum, quick Badger’. Looking out of the upstairs window you could just make out the double white strips on the badger’s face. We turned on some lights and then stood in one of the room in darkness. The lights didn’t seem to bother the badger as he snuffled around no more than 10 foot from the house tidying up the bird food. Scuffling and sniffing around for at least half an hour.
Brock, for that is what I call him, has returned most evenings since apart from when we have had heavy rain or there have been lots of fireworks. What a time waster, I have spent a lot of time just watching. We commented that first evening how surreal it was – after all it is rare to see a Badger live and kicking, mostly we see them dead by the side of the road. I have seen one once when I followed it on New Years Eve down my parents road but that was just the back view!
There is controversy in the UK about the government’s planned, currently postponed, cull of some badgers to try to stop the spread of TB. I have mixed views on this, I feel for the farmers losing their cattle to TB but I also wonder how strong the evidence is that there is a link.
Anyway, I am glad Brock has chosen to visit us although I hope that his rooting around doesn’t disturb all my recently planted bulbs. I have tried to take a photograph of the badger but I don’t have a clever infra-red camera thingy which is very sad so you will just have to believe me.