Country diary 1972: Quiet enough to hear badgers stirring below ground – Rights History
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Country diary 1972: Quiet enough to hear badgers stirring below ground

4 November 1972: The real test of a quiet night is when you can hear falling leaves settling on the ground

MACHYNLLETH: If you go badger watching it is well to choose a quiet night. And the test of a quiet night is not whether you can hear the acorns falling. For they come bounding down from branch to branch with such a clink-clonk you can hear from one end of the wood to the other. No, the real test of a quiet night is when you can hear the falling leaves settling on the ground several yards away. In that sort of delicious stillness you can hear the badgers beginning to stir below ground and you have good warning of the cautious grey face you soon see looking out of the burrow.

But the snag about badgers’ setts is that they can have many exits. Which is why the other night I was unlucky. My badgers chose to leave by a hole for which I was unsighted and I missed them completely. But by pure luck on my way home through the wood I came upon a badger digging as strenuously he did not hear my approach. I turned aside not wishing to disturb him. I knew what he was up to for I, too, had found the wasps’ nest in the bank just there. Going back this morning I found a great cavity there, and the wasps’ nest is a complete wreck with a few surviving wasps clinging to the ruins dejectedly. And the wasps, like the falling leaves, must soon pass into another existence.

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