After our morning success at Mumbles the pressure was on to deliver once more. Our target? Badgers, not the easiest species to see at the best of times but to order and whilst still light enough for photography? Virtually impossible you may be thinking but we are incredibly fortunate to have Dinefwr in easy reach and there they’ve managed to create something really rather special. For a very reasonable fee you are led at dusk to a hide overlooking your quintessential woodland clearing where peanuts and peanut butter are spread liberally. Settle down and all being well it shouldn’t be long before the first Badgers emerge and your mind is well and truly blown.
At least that’s what normally happens but the Badgers on this particular occasion were so eager to feed that before our guide had even had chance to put any food out there were already a couple on show. I couldn’t help but smile as my Dad became visibly agitated as he attempted to get a couple of early shots in the bag, no doubt fearing that this might be the only chance he got. Having been here once before I however knew better and busied myself taking readings and making sure that my camera was optimally set. What followed was pure magic. Two hours vanished in the blink of an eye as we were treated to the sight, and indeed sound, of up to twelve Badgers going about their business sometimes down to as little as five or six meters from our position. There’s really no words to describe the sheer joy at seeing these animals in the flesh, classics of British fauna yet so little observed. Take my Dad and I as prime examples. Avid wildlife watchers yet each of us had only ever glimpsed one wild Badger prior to Dinefwr and here we were now almost spoiled for choice. One minute you’d be watching the adults pop their heads above ground only to have a youngster charge in from stage left causing total chaos and in the ensuing bedlam somehow manage to leap up the pecking order and sneak a few tasty morsels. I have to admit I liked their style.
Even the lighting was perfect. What had started as dull and overcast soon developed into a glorious evening as the sunshine broke through creating dappled light within our clearing. When those golden rays struck Badger pelt they seemed to make the animals feel even more alive, conditions which I’d dreamed of but hadn’t dared hope may actually come true. We really were in heaven.
What you can’t truly get from these photos however is the atmosphere of the place. From excited whispers between my fellow watchers to Fallow Deer calling in the background, insects catching the setting sun and a Tawny Owl hooting in the distance. Easy details to miss perhaps with the Badgers the star attractions but without which the evening would not have been complete.
When we did eventually get dragged away it was with a sense of euphoria and renewed appreciation for our native wildlife. Perhaps the experience is best summed up by my own Dad, well travelled around the world who stated that this encounter had been so special because the Badgers were ours. Couldn’t have put it better myself.