Brock, he came a visting

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.

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23 Comments Add yours

  1. If you were in Wisconsin the badger’s name would have to be Bucky. There is a statue of a badger in the State Capitol, Wisconsin being officially the Badger State. Not sure that’s something I wouldl voluntarily call myself.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Jason – Bucky isnt a name I would associate with a badger. Badgers are always portrayed as wise animals to be venerated here and Bucky just doesnt do it!!

    2. The folk image here is mainly one of tenacity and physical courage, not so much wisdom. If you want to see our idea of badgers you can google “Bucky Badger”, he is the mascot for the University of Wisconsin football and other teams.

  2. hillwards says:

    Quite rare indeed to see a badger “in action” – glad that he doesn’t seem to be doing too much damage, and you can enjoy his visits.

  3. I am extremely envious of your visitor. I get excited when I see the hedgehogs in my garden, and was over the moon when there was a fox family living in the field behind my garden – but a badger, wow!

  4. Dobby says:

    I used to have a badger visit me at my last house which backed onto an old railway line and farm land. He used to dig himself a latrine and leave a deposit and he often set off the security lights, but they didn’t seem to bother him too much. He didn’t visit for long so am guessing that his original territory had been disturbed for a while. You have probably already seen it, but there is a lot of information at http://www.badger.org.uk/
    I used to love watching him.

  5. Anna B says:

    How cute! I’ve only ever seen two in real life, many years ago coming home from a friend’s house late a night, my dad was driving me home down our country lane and two of them scuffled out in front of the car, we followed them for quite a while before they scuffled back into the hedgerow. It was a real special moment!

  6. Donna says:

    Aaah bless! you’ll need to keep a wee eye on him – make sure he doesn’t undo all your good work…

  7. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Wow! Another animal NOT introduced here! Probably a good thing as they would have eaten our ground dwelling birds and eggs!

  8. Cathy says:

    Yes, it’s lovely when we can live in harmony with our wildlife, but I am sure those gardeners who suffer damage from rabbits, deer, foxes and the like don’t find them quite so endearing. I was so excited the one time we had a fox pay us a visit, and yet our friend has just lost 3 more chickens to one of his cousins. Fantastic to see a LIVE badger, though, rather than one dead on the roadside.

  9. Beverley Jones says:

    Lucky you to have seen a badger so close – like nearly everybody else I have seen several this year all unfortunately dead by the side of the road. I have a squirrel (or maybe two) visiting my bird feeders, their antics are really funny -I bang on the patio door to send him off the feeders as he swipes most of it and I do a survey for the Ornithological Society but they just sit there looking mega cute and pinch all the special sunflower hearts I have put out there. The squirrel haven’t scared off my two nuthatches – coming in three or four times each morning and running off with food and stuffing it into the bark of the lime tree as I was surprised to find out that it what they do, they are so pretty and feisty – they both scare everything else off the bird table – pigeons, robin, great,blue and coal tits all keep a respectful distance – the nuthatch dives at them all with its beak wide open!! Enjoy your badger.

  10. How exciting to find new wildlife in your garden, even if he is a little rambunctious with the pot rearranging. He sounds very determined, to have moved the stone and dug under the fence. Have fun watching his antics.

    Just when you thought you had all of the camera equipment you needed, you have an incentive to upgrade now. 🙂

  11. James Golden says:

    I have had many groundhogs, but never a badger. I don’t even know if we have badgers in New Jersey. You’ve given me something new to learn.

  12. catmint says:

    How exciting to have this mystery visitor id’d. I’ve never seen a badger in the wild, my real familiarity comes from the pages of Wind in the Willows.

  13. Jamie says:

    Fantastic Helen. The closest thing we’ve got to a badger here in Oz is a wombat, and they wreck country gardens on an industrial scale, but fortunately the closest one to my house is about 100 miles away. If we ever had one, I think we’d name ours Bruce, being Australian and all.

  14. Christina says:

    How exciting, especially if he doesn’t damage anything. We had badgers here two years ago but closed the gaps in the fence pretty quickly because if a badger could get in so could a porcupine and they do huge amounts of damage! This year there has been a fox, eating all my melons and biting the irrigation tubes – not good. Christina

  15. My friend has a badger (or two?) visiting her garden. She leaves a bit of food out for them, & then finds they don’t dig around in the garden too much! They seem to like banana, even if it’s just the skin!!

  16. Anna says:

    Oh how thrilling to be able to observe closehand – better than ‘Autumnwatch’.Fingers crossed for the bulbs.

  17. Sandie Anne says:

    This year we had a groundhog take up residence. We were not so pleased because he was eating our vegetables including our newly grown green beans!

  18. Gary Doherty says:

    wonderful,love watching wildlife in the garden. On the subject of TB,the Isle of man has a problem with the dicease and there’s no badgers on the island !

  19. shirl says:

    Oh Helen, I had to laugh at “What a time waster, I have spent a lot of time just watching”. Yep, I’ve ‘patiently’ sat here to capture photos and video of my garden visitors. Lol… the more I see, then the more I look out for… a serious time waster I am then 😉

    Now, when you started to describe your visitor I wondered if it would be a badger based on stories I have read. However, my next thought immediately went to what it might dig up and that my preferred option would be to put food out. Peanuts is a food I believe they enjoy – perhaps expensive to keep up but maybe less so than plant replacement. Brock seems pretty determined to get into your garden. Enjoy these brief visits… be very, very careful there though… you could become a serious time waster too 😉

  20. How wonderful! It must be such a thrill to see one in the garden. We found a set nearby and stood in a cold dark field to get a view. I was freezing and they stayed in that night! I totally disagree with the cull – they should spend all that money on researching whether there IS a link to badgers or on developing an effective vaccine rather than killing them first! Quite a few of the badgers at the side of the road are not road kill victims either … badger baiters dump the bodies there to hide evidence of their crime.

  21. Juliet says:

    How lovely – worth putting up with a few scattered pots to see a live badger, I think. We found badger tracks in the snow in our garden a couple of winters ago, but we never got to see the animal responsible.

    I was going to post the Badger Trust link, but Dobby got there before me. I believe there’s scientific evidence that culling badgers might actually increase the incidence of TB in cattle. There’s more information and a link to the petition against the cull here.

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