Saturday, 8 August 2009

Badger's Eye Sunset


I recently bought a camouflage hood and gloves to aid my wildlife watching and a warm sunny evening last Wednesday provided the first opportunity to test out their invisibility properties. Checking the wind direction I decided my first stop would be the badger's sett so I hooded up and entered the wood, crept close to the sett and settled down to wait.
I'd set up my camera and checked exposures and tried to tune in with the wood and observe any changes. Sad to say the first thing I saw was the decayed corpse of a badger a few yards away, which gave me quite a jolt and sent my mind racing through possibilities as to what had caused the death of the badger so close to home - poisoning, disease, a large animal attack (well the adrenalin was running a little from the surprise!) - and could it be the body of the youngster that I had photographed and published in my very first blog? The body was too decayed to surmise anything with my experience so the question remains unanswered.

As I pondered I was distracted by a more positive image. Two badgers had emerged and were digging in the sandy dirt a few yards away towards the edge of the wood. Fully camouflaged and down wind I found I was able to stalk surprisingly close to them and get some shots, though the light was extremely difficult. They were completely oblivious to my presence and continued to dig the sand clear of the hole they were developing. Occasionally they met and sniffed each other before moving on to their next task. After a few minutes they moved off into the brush so I decided to sneak away and head up through the wood to the top to see if the family of hares were around. I spooked an adult hare towards the top then emerged from the darkness of the trees to the golden light of the setting sun out to the west. The wheat crop had been cut to stubble earlier in the week and I settled myself in the tree line with a panoramic view of the field and the setting sun behind.
To the left, gambling in the hazy light, a group of hares congregated, nine in number, playfully jumping and feeding between the stubble. This must have been several families and clearly the spring and summer had been successful for them. Quite close in the grass to my right a Roesels's Bush Cricket began its song as a few crows and pigeons dropped down to pick spilled grain from the harvest in the last of the day. I relaxed in the landscape, shooting pictures of the sun sinking through broken cloud on the horizon, turning their edges to dazzling golden leaf. A few minutes later another player entered the scene at great pace. A solitary badger bounded across the field, perhaps un-nerved by the lack of cover in the field than he was used to and disappeared in the set aside long grass that surrounded the field, out to maraud through the night.

As the sun finished its dissolution into the horizon I headed east to round the plantation towards the growing corn crop, now standing at four feet and starting to flower. From the horizon tree line above the River Rib a copper moon began to rise into the sky. Streaks of blue-purple-grey cloud contrasted across the fully emerging disk, the great craters casting minute shadows across the surface. Descending further the last rays of the day illuminated the procession of small mouton clouds. I dipped through the hedge, across the ditch and went in for dinner.

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