Something really cool happened to me yesterday evening. In fact, I'm still excited about it. I was out walking in the Chilterns, enjoying the sunny, mellow late autumn afternoon. The lane I was walking on was Hollandridge Lane, near Hollandridge Farm
I had just met a nice woman with a little terrier. The terrier was probably a bit too fond of chasing rabbits because it had a rather loud bell on its collar. The woman remarked about what a nice afternoon it was, after the heavy rain earlier. I had been a bit worried on my way to the beginning of the walk in Northend because it had been pouring down. But it had stopped by the time I was ready and by now the sky was mostly clear and it was warm enough for me to take off my jacket.
When I came around a bend in the lane, there was a badger on the tarmac. It hadn't noticed me so at first I just stood and gaped and felt grateful. As far as I can remember, this is only the third time ever I've seen a badger and the first time I've seen one in the UK. It was busy snuffling on the ground and stopping every now and then but I couldn't see what it was doing. I would love to take a picture but my camera was in the backpack.
The badger seemed very busy with what it was doing, and completely at ease. I had a headwind, that's why he hadn't smelled me coming. Having watched the badger for a while, I dared put down my backpack and very carefully took out the camera, leaving the backpack on the ground. The badger didn't seem to have noticed. I snuck off a couple of shots. The shutter sounded very loud to me but the badger still didn't take any notice. That's when my phone rang. I cursed whoever it was and let it ring in my pocket. Amazingly, the badger was still completely concentrated on its mysterious task.
I decided that this badger was rather deaf, so I tried getting a bit closer when he had his back turned. Success! And I was able to get some more photos of the stripy beast. Now I was so close I could hear scrunching noises. The badger seemed to be chewing on something. I got a lot of good shots. By the time I thought that even if the badger scampered off, I'd still have lots of great photos, I decided to get even closer.
The next time the badger had his back turned, I snuck forward another couple of feet and crouched down. I was enthralled. The badger still hadn't noticed me. Maybe stalking wildlife isn't so hard after all. Although I was beginning to think that the reason he couldn't hear me was the very loud, sharp noise he was making chewing and snuffling the ground. I got off even more shots, some that I could tell would be really good. Then my phone rang again but the badger still didn't notice!
My ringtone is a soul song by Jamie Scott
. It fades in and out and sounds more like a snippet of music than an attention-grabbing ring tone. It's the only ringtone I've ever paid for. Maybe the money was well spent after all. I was high on adrenaline and just kept taking pictures, letting the phone ring.
By now I had also figured out what made the crunching noises. The badger was eating hazel nuts! The noise was from using his teeth as a nut cracker. The tarmac was full of little pieces of nutshell. At one time, he seemed to get a nut stuck in his teeth. He was coughing but quickly recovered and was able to close his mouth again and continue gorging himself on the fatty food he needs for winter.
Space on my 1Gb memory card was dwindling but I had no problems with filling it with such a rare sight. I was just thinking of maybe trying to get even closer, when I got a text. The short, sharp belltone got the badger's attention! It looked at me and then quickly scampered off, down the lane and into the hedge.
The text was from the recruiter, who wanted to tell me that my contract was confirmed for Tuesday. I wanted to curse him, even if he did bring very good news. I've got plenty of jobs in my time but I've only seen three badgers.
By the time I was talking to the recruiter the adrenaline was wearing off and I was starting to get shaky. So I retrieved my backpack and got into the all-butter shortcake I had bought at Tesco on the way to the walk. Now that I think about it, I should have put the phone in the backpack the first time it rang. I just hadn't counted on the recruiter's stubbornness. Rather like a badger.
Here the badger is taking off down the lane. Wallpaper
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