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  • Writer's pictureAlistair

Badgers and a visiting relative

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

Almost two years ago, when I was first walking the land, on the boundary of what I christened Badger field and a patch of woodland, I found a series of holes in the bank that look liked they had once been used by badgers as part of a sett. While I have, in other places, occasionally caught a badger on a camera trap, there was never any sign of life here. And a collection of shotgun cartridges scattered on the ground made me think that perhaps once, before my time, any badgers had been “dealt with”. Robert, my farming neighbour, told me that some setts are only occasionally used, outliers to the main sett. But whatever the history, it seemed to have ended.

A few weeks ago I was walking through the wood in this area and caught sight of yet another ancient, discarded plastic feed bucket thrown into the hedge between the double fencing. This time of year, when the vegetation has died back, is a good time to collect plastic. Stitchwort in May, blackberries in August and plastic in February. Great. I went into Badger field to retrieve it and there, by the fence, found five or six burrows with a lots of freshly scraped soil around the entrance.

Earthworks from the badgers, plus the bucket that led to the discovery ... I might start a spot the bucket competition

Over the last few weeks, I’ve captured some great footage of the badgers, which, for now at least, seem to be residing at Cefn Garthenor. This one was certainly checking the camera out!

A clan of comprises a group of four to eight mixed sex badgers living in a sett. The sett can be very large, over 50m in any direction, with tens of entrances. They can be lived in for generations, extended or adjusted over time. Or, as Robert told me, they might be outliers, a summer or occasional home, say. I gather that they only give birth once a year, and it is around mid-February. So, I’m hoping that they are here to stay for a bit. They seem to have made themselves at home. They are in the habit of collecting bedding to line their sleeping quarters and have clearly being collecting it from Badger field.

Signs of scratching around for bedding or worms ...

This bedding collection may have been combined with foraging for food. They are omnivores but their main diet is worms. Up to 200 a night I’ve read ( is good). They will also move to fruit and snails if worms are in short supply or the ground is frozen. And if desperate, the occasional hedgehog.

I’ll keep the camera trap going … if there are any young, they should emerge after 12 weeks, so May sometime. I’ll also doubtless get footage of other stuff … below is a polecat, another member of the same mustelid family, who popped in for a brief visit! She clearly did not like what the badgers have done with the place.

TB and badgers? I’ll save that one for another time …

And if you didn't spot the bucket, it's red, left hand photo, central near the top.

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