Wednesday 26/8/09 - Without a safety net

When I got home last night, I couldn't sleep. It sounds a bit sad, but having the badger almost in my lap last night really got the adrenaline going and I'm still excited about it tonight. Having said that, I don't know if I want to tempt the badgers into the hide again, I don't think I'd want to be in the hide with a badger as it's not that big and I don't want to scare the badgers, or be bitten by one!

Tonight I'm on my own and think I'll try something a little different. I haven't much time tonight either as I'd like to be home by ten. Food out, no meat tonight as I was late leaving and it was almost dark by time I arrived here. So peanuts spread around and into the hide. I decide to leave the net that normally goes over the door up tonight so nothing to hide behind. I position myself a couple of feet back in the hide sat on my little (uncomfortable) chair. I don't wait for long when some movement from the main path attracts my attention. It's a fox! He trots out into the middle of the feeding area and begins eating peanuts. A few seconds later, a second fox joins it. The first is one of this years cubs, by the look of it. The second is an adult fox, probably a vixen. I turn the light on and the adult fox runs, then stops, but eventually wanders off into the night. The reaction from the other animal couldn't be more different. It sits down on the grass about five meters away chewing nuts and looking quite relaxed. So here I am, sat in the hide, but with an open doorway in front of me watching a fox eating its supper. I can whistle to the fox and he doesn't mind that, a bit like the badgers. I do this every now and then to make a noise they may come to recognise as a "food call". You never know your luck!

In the background, a badger has appeared, but it doesn't get far into the feeding area when it turns around and trots off. Had is seen me? Badgers eyesight isn't very good so if the fox hasn't seen me (and foxes do have good eyesight), how did the badger? Who knows. Perhaps it was just put out that the fox was there eating the badgers peanuts. About ten minutes goes by and the fox eventually trots off. I decide to call it a day during the lull in proceedings and quickly shut the hide up and start making my way back. Still plenty of nuts around so I'm sure the badgers will be along soon. I've not gone very far when I see a badger making its way towards the feeding area, but resist the urge to go back and watch it. A little further along a lot of rustling in the hedge makes me turn the torch on. Two badgers are coming out of the hedge only about six feet away. One turns back, but the other makes its way onto the path and heads towards me, sniffing for food. As I've got the torch in one hand and the camcorder in the other, I'm unable to throw a few nuts down for it. It goes to walk past me on the other side of the path, about a meter away, when it suddenly stops sniffs long and hard. It then turns towards me and starts covering the short distance between me and it very quickly. I'm filming this and decide that it's probably best to move my foot about now, just in case its intentions are not to my benefit. It stops, looks at my feet and then runs off. I don't like scaring the badgers, but I'd like it even less if one thought my foot was tasty morsel! I make my way back up to the farm without further incident.

Sitting there without anything in front of you watching a fox, which ended up as close as three meters before it disappeared, is also quite exciting. The close encounter with the badger last night was slightly more so, but this was a lot more relaxed and the fox left of its own accord, not because I had to scare it. With the encounters I've had whilst being stood, or knelt, close to both foxes and badgers whilst out in the open, it just goes to show that if you take the wind direction into consideration, wear quiet clothing and don't top up the after shave before you go out, what is possible. It's highly rewarding and I recommend you get out there and give it a try.

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