30 Nights Wild, night 27

Heavy rain was forecast for about 10, so I set up my dome hide to provide some cover for the camera gear. Nicola watched me from the hole opposite and only retreated when I walked slowly towards her to put out the peanuts. She was back out again within five minutes and ate for a while before disappearing down the hole on my right.

Two minutes later she came back with Nigel. They ate together for a few minutes, then Nicola had had enough and wandered off into the brambles. Nigel continued to eat, but was a bit nervous, rushing off every few minutes, perhaps when he caught my scent, or noticed the red glow of my infrared light. Boris was keeping an eye on him, watching from the brambles. Finally, he wandered off back to the sett. I packed up just before the rain started and took my camera gear back to the car. When I returned to collect the hide, one cub was out again and Boris was still watching from the brambles.

30 Nights Wild, night 26

I went back up my ladder this evening, to watch the badgers from three metres up. Nigel was out first for a change. He spent ten minutes eating peanuts on his own, then went off through the sett to find Nicola. They came running back together two minutes later and rummaged through the leaf litter finding peanuts for quite some time.

Eventually, they'd both had enough and went off to the big oak tree to play on the slippery logs. Boris then appeared and came to the feeding site, with Jeremy turning up a minute later. They ate together for a while, then the cubs realised the adults were there and came running over. They were warmly greeted, but Boris wanted a quiet evening so didn't stay. Jeremy played with the cubs for a while before they all went off across the sett and into the woods on the other side.

30 Nights Wild, night 25

This evening I decided to sit on the ground and hand-hold the video camera, with a small infrared light attached. I also set up a GoPro on the opposite side of the feeding area, to simultaneously film the action from both sides.

There wasn't much action for a while, but eventually Nicola had the courage to emerge. Nigel took a bit longer and the light was fading by the time they were both feeding in front of me. Nicola finished first and wandered off into the brambles, leaving Nigel working his way slowly towards me. I'd evidently put out too many peanuts, as he too wandered off before reaching the food around my feet. I heard rustling in the brambles from the adults, but they wouldn't come out while I was there. As I left, the cubs were playing noisily in the centre of the sett.

30 Nights Wild, night 24

This time it was Nicola who came out before I had a chance to get to my seat. She saw me coming and dived down the nearest hole. It only took a few minutes for her to emerge again though. I sat on the ground this evening which, together with the gusty wind, made the badgers nervous.

Nigel came out to join Nicola, but Jeremy was more cautious. He edged slowly down the spoil heap leading from his hole, but then changed his mind and retreated into the brambles. Nicola was very focused on finding peanuts, while Nigel wandered around. He eventually wandered into me, but was not concerned until I moved slightly, trying to film him. He ran down the nearest hole, but emerged again within a minute and resumed peanut hunting with Nicola.

30 Nights Wild, night 23

I walked down the path alongside the sett and was about to turn off into the clearing where I put food out, when I saw Boris rooting around on the edge of a bramble patch. I stood perfectly still as she moved gradually closer. Fortunately, she was still ten metres away when she realised I was there and trotted off into the brambles. I didn’t want her to get too close and then get a fright.

As usual, Nicola was first out to the peanuts, then Nigel appeared, having walked down from the top end of the sett. Jeremy came out of the hole on my left and joined the cubs. Nigel finished first and went down the hole in front of me. A few seconds later his head appeared at the hole on my left. He’d taken a wrong turning and went back the way he’d come! The others soon cleaned up the peanuts and went off into the brambles. A few minutes later, the cubs were playing around the big oak tree in the centre of the sett and a game of chase followed, with Boris joining in. A cuckoo was still calling thro…

30 Nights Wild, night 22

Once again, I put out the food and then returned to my car for the camera gear. When I got back to the feeding site, both cubs were already out. It was cooler and breezy tonight, so the sound of the wind masked the noise of my approach. I was able to stalk quite close to the cubs and get a few photos before they realised I was there and scuttled back to the sett.

I got to my high seat and had quite a long wait before top boar Jeremy cautiously emerged. He was soon followed by the cub Nigel, now covered in sand. The cubs had been play-fighting underground. Nigel didn't stay for long, before heading back down the sett. Fifteen minutes later, both cubs emerged again, this time looking clean. Boris joined them soon afterwards.

A baby rabbit ran across the open area on my left and went behind me. All the badgers looked up, but only Nicola went after it. She raced across, chasing the rabbit into the brambles on the other side. The other badgers continued eating peanuts. Five minutes lat…

30 Nights Wild, night 21

We're three weeks into my month long badger watching challenge, and it's time to get a few things sorted out. When I wrote my introduction to the clan in mid-May, a certain amount of guesswork was involved. With such a small group of badgers I didn't think I could go far wrong.

However, it's now clear that 'Boris' is not the badger I thought he was. He's actually a female and the mother of one of the cubs. Back in May I watched Theresa, the sow with the split ear, bringing a small cub to the feeding site. It was not until early June that I realised there were two cubs at the sett. At about the same time, Theresa disappeared. I now think that Nicola, the smaller but more independent of the cubs, was Theresa's and Nigel is Boris's cub. He's more inclined to stay in the safety of the centre of the sett, with Boris. Now, when they've finished the food I put out for them, it's Boris that takes both cubs away to the woods for some proper forag…