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Nights with badgers – by the RSPB

Heather Devey, Visitor Development Officer at RSPB Haweswater, introduces us to their badgers; Beatrix, Porridge and Gremlin.

Since opening our Badger Hide at RSPB Haweswater, we have had the pleasure of introducing students, couples, filmmakers, families and sole-badger lovers to our three visiting sows (females) who emerge from their setts in the wilds of Haweswater on an evening, and visit our Badger Hide to forage and socialise.

Between public sessions, it’s almost too irresistible for the Haweswater team to spend an evening watching the girls when they get the chance – myself included since starting my role as Visitor Development Officer here. Over the past few weeks I have got to know our three current visiting ‘Brocks’, and their unique traits that enable us to tell them apart. So, let me introduce you to the girls:

A badger at RSP Haweswater

Beatrix

Beatrix is a beautiful, large sow, who just so happens to have cubs back at her sett! We can tell this from her teets which show she’s been feeding her young milk, so our fingers are TIGHTLY crossed for your cubs visiting our Hide later in the year. She is incredibly strong, as are most Badgers, and is an expert at lifting rocks and large logs to snuffle out food underneath.

Beatrix has a lovely black nose, and healed scars on her face and neck – which are quite common occurrences in Badgers – and these help us quickly tell her apart from the other two.

A badger at RSP Haweswater

Porridge

Porridge has a bright pink nose with tell-tale black markings, but this isn’t currently her distinguishing feature. She has a wound on her rump, a frequent injury found within Badger populations, although we may not see them often. Badgers bite each other ‘on the bum’ for a number of reasons, such as ‘persuading’ an older individual to leave the clan or pushing rogue individuals out of claimed territories. We’ve all been keeping an eye on Porridge’s wound, and it is healing very well.

Porridge most enjoys feeding around the standing deadwood in our viewing area, and is very bold when first entering the viewing area!

A badger at RSP Haweswater

Gremlin

Gremlin is lovingly named for the long tufts of fur on her ears which we often see poking out from behind logs as she snuffles for her food. Like Porridge, she has a bright pink nose with different black markings, which again enable us to identify her. She is often the first Badger to visit the Hide on an evening, and so is cautious when first arriving – slinking her stomach to the floor protectively whilst foraging. It doesn’t take her long to realise she is safe and raises her body into the usual, stout ‘Badger’ shape.

Gremlin becomes more bold as the evening goes on, and is often the first to feed directly in front of the Hide! She’s so close you can even hear her chomping away.

A badger at RSP Haweswater

As our hide is sunken into the ground to be situated at eye level with the badgers, you’re able to see so much detail that might otherwise be missed – such as signs of Beatrix nursing cubs. It really is a wonderful privilege to spend time with such enigmatic animals, right here in the Lake District.

If you would like to visit the Haweswater Badgers, you can choose from our “Individual Bookings” option for guided badger watches, or our “Exclusive Hide Use” option to have the hide to yourself for an evening.

Visit www.rspbhaweswater.eventbrite.com to book, or feel free to get in touch with me directly at [email protected].

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