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A friend of badgers who lived near Riddlesdown Station has moved. To celebrate the years of feeding her local badgers, she sent us the following photographs. We see her badgers, with their cubs, in snow, rain and fine weather. What greater proof can we see of the health and wellbeing of local badgers than 10 adults and cubs in her garden at one time.Ed: She will sorely miss them but I expect that whoever has taken on her house has been given plenty of instruction on how to look after her friends.
Ed: I am sure that there are more of you who have photographs you have taken of badgers and would like to share them with Members and visitors to our website. Please post or e-mail them to me with a little background information See Contact Us. Prints can be returned.
My first encounter
On Easter Saturday, after leaving a wet grey Surrey, we began to see the clouds disappearing. Once past Swindon on the M4 and by the time we reached Bristol the skies were blue and we were warming up. Then disaster! On the M5 we got stuck in a traffic jam and I had to map-read Mum through Bristol.
I just couldn't wait to get to Secret World*, which is near Bridgewater in Somerset. The founder of Secret World, Pauline Kidner, came to the WSBG meeting in March and she gave such a good talk that I was desperate to go and visit and see what she does. I adopted a badger at this meeting instead of having an Easter egg from my Mum and Dad.
I had already looked on the website and knew that there were two badger cubs being cared for. I couldn't wait to see my first badger cub. When we arrived the webcam was set up in the shop area and we could see the two baby badgers plus an otter cub! Unfortunately we had missed the first viewing of the cubs at 11am on the lawn, as we arrived late because of the detour. So we had to wait until 3.30, which gave us a chance to have a good look around.
We met Jeff from our Badger Group who was in the badger den shed asking guests to sign the petition forms against Badger Culling. He told us that if we stayed until the end of the day he might be able to take us into Pauline's kitchen where the two badger cubs were being cared for.
We saw a nest of baby Wood Mice - their parents had made a nest in a lawnmower and when the owner went to use it for the first time this year the mother ran out and abandoned them. So the whole nest with the babies was taken to Secret World to be looked after!
We saw the resident two Peacocks. One was on top of a large cage making a lot of noise and the other was nibbling in an open rabbit run. There were two wallabies in the paddock along with ducks and foxes in a pen but they were asleep.
At 3pm we made our way to the front lawn of Pauline's house and there we waited for half an hour (we wanted the best possible view of the cubs and Mum had her camera ready). Then at exactly 3.30, Pauline came out with a microphone and introduced herself. She told us about foxes first, and then foster mum Val introduced us to a tiny fox cub named Ruby that she was looking after at home until it was old enough to go into a pen at Secret World.
Pauline then told her audience about the plight of our badgers in general and the current TB problems in the news at the moment. Her cubs are triple tested for TB and released as a family group on land where the landowner is happy to have badgers living there. The suspense was nearly killing me, then she asked two assistants to come out of the farmhouse and there in their arms were two adorable cubs, one called Jonathon and the other Ross!! Jonathon was trying to escape his handler's arms and she ended up putting him on the ground on a blanket as she was worried she was going to drop him! Ross was a little shy and nervous and was trying to tuck his head under the assistant's armpit!
Before we knew it, it was 4.30 and the guests were leaving after a busy day. We went back to see Jeff and true to his promise he sneaked us into Pauline's kitchen that was upstairs in the farmhouse. There we saw Jonathon in the cubby hole with a baby otter cub called Hope, both asleep, and Ross was on the worktop in a mouse/ rat cage also fast asleep. It was lovely to get so close to them and Mum took a few pictures too!
We had a fabulous day and I admire Pauline and her team for all they do for our wildlife.
My second encounter
We met a lovely lady called Margaret through the WSBG meetings last Autumn. She gave a fascinating talk about her badgers living opposite her house near Farnham. I asked her if I could come and watch them one day. She said that I could but the autumn was not a good time, I needed to wait until the spring when they are more active.
Margaret called in mid-April and invited my family to watch the badgers. Mum, Dad, my brother Michael and I arrived at 7pm, all wearing dark clothes so as not to be so easily seen and wearing no fresh deodorant or perfume! It was a lovely evening and the sun seemed to take ages to go down. Then around 8pm Margaret said it was time to walk the short distance opposite her house where there is some fenced off wasteland (she explained that a developer bought this land many years ago hoping to get approval to build houses on it but has so far not succeeded as there are at least two family badger setts on the land). Margaret had a bucket of peanuts, dog biscuits, custard creams and peanut butter sandwiches all cut into small pieces. She throws this over a wire fence, spreading it out so they do not find it all in one place.
After about five minutes we started to see dark shapes leading down from two different paths and then we could see a white stripe as they got closer and closer. Before we knew it they were snuffling in the grass for the food that Margaret had thrown. We were all so excited to see this in the wild and counted 11 badgers at one time! If they heard a car coming or a slight noise they rushed away back to the dark woods, then a few minutes later they came back again not wanting to miss out on the lovely supper that Margaret provides for them!
* Secret World Wildlife Rescue
New Road, Highbridge, Somerset TA9 3PZ.
phone: 01278 783250
Secret World was founded and is run by Pauline Kidner. She and her team are in the forefront of those rehabilitating orphaned badgers ready for release to the wild. They also care for a host of injured, sick and orphaned wild animals. Their hospital is well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Ed: I wish we could get badger stories from East Surrey. I am sure that there must be some of you who have stories of badgers and would like to share them with Members and visitors to our website. Please post or e-mail them to me See Contact Us.