Unexpected Upland Badger

For some reason, in my mind, badgers live in shady forests and hedgerows. This idea may have evolved after my early encounters with them at Fyne Court in Somerset. When I imagine them emerging from their underground homes (setts) at dusk, they are following well worn paths across rolling open green fields and along hedgerows to find worms and frogs, among other tasty things. In my mind they aren’t hill walkers, view hunters, exploring the wet marshy ground found on our open Irish hills and mountains. These places, I assumed, weren’t the chosen habitat of this black and white striped mammal.

Cooley mountain wander

However, the more I see, the more my preconceptions about nature are being challenged. Nature surprises us at ever possible moment. Yesterday while stretching our legs on the Cooley mountains in county Louth (part of my #30dayswild efforts), we came across some very nice footprints at around 520m elevation! The soft boggy ground of the Irish uplands is the perfect substrate for footprints!

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Badger prints in the Cooley mountains (top: hind foot, bottom: front foot) Photo: Jennifer Lynch

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Badger prints in the Cooley Mountains. (top: hind foot, bottom: front foot). Photo: Jennifer Lynch

However further reading revealed that this is not unusual, and that badgers are found in upland and boggy habitats, but there are fewer of the hill wandering, view seeking badgers, or in scientific terms, they are found in lower densities.

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Badger front foot print in the Cooley mountains. Photo: Jennifer Lynch

Maybe I might take a late evening wander some time, to see if I could spot these fascinating creatures. At least they usually attempt to put their droppings in a hole, but didn’t quite make it on this occasion!

Possible Badger Latrine in Cooley mountains. Photo: Jennifer Lynch

Possible Badger Latrine in Cooley mountains. Photo: Jennifer Lynch

A very nice quote from Dave Williams, Surrey County Mammal Recorder, which I found here tells me off for jumping to conclusions about badgers and nature in general:

“When surveying for mammals there are always surprises and strange occurrences. Never believe that all animals behave the way they are supposed to. Badgers digging setts in an open flat area, and in heavy clay soil, or on the side of a very busy road. I have rescued badgers from unusual places, behind a garage in a busy town, stuck in a drain on a building site, places where you would not expect them to be. But its not just badgers.  Dormice that nest in a garden full of bamboo and laurel, one fast asleep and trapped in the polythene wrapping of a pallet of paving slabs that had travelled via three depots. Last year whilst checking a dormouse box a very angry weasel leapt out. I even found a wren caught in a longworth trap. Keep an open mind and beware of expecting the obvious.”

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