• Toni Cross

Highland Badger Watch

Nocturnal and elusive, Badgers can be difficult to spot and photograph and the best opportunities come from visiting a good hide.

Badgers have been top of my list of British wildlife to photograph for quite a while. Although I've caught sight of the occasional animal around our Yorkshire Wolds base they are pretty hard to photograph, and lighting is always an issue.

A recent visit to the Highlands created an opportunity to connect with wildlife advocate and manager of the Boat of Garten Wildlife Group Allan Bantick, and visit their brilliant Badger hide.

The hide has been in existence since 1996 and these are Badgers that are well used to human presence. There were only two of us in the hide with Allan when we visited. Badgers came out within a few minutes of peanuts being scattered for them, and with reasonable light, which made for great photo opportunities.

Badgers have greater protection in Scotland than they currently enjoy in England, and this hide is also close to a busy footpath. With people coming and going for most of the day and the hide used most evenings it is comforting to know that this massive set is well protected and the animals here, although very habituated, are safe. We saw at least five animals in one evening, and they seemed little worried by our presence. The only time they spooked and returned to the set was when a dog walker came too close.

This particular set had only one cub born this year, and it was fantastic to watch this young animal play and groom with mum.

The hide is open most nights in the summer and can be visited for a donation to the group. To book visit the Boat of Garten Wildlife Group website and get in touch with Allan for available dates. https://www.cairngormwildlife.co.uk/bogwig/badgerhide.html

This was a great night's wildlife watching and a privilege to see these wonderful animals in the wild.

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