I discovered from Facebook this morning that an osprey has been hanging around a local nature reserve for the past couple of days, and as I was about to go out in that rough direction anyway, I thought it was worth checking it out. It was still there, along with a substantial number of birders; people who reckon to know what they’re talking about say that it’s an unringed, two-year old female bird, and there was much speculation about where she might be heading, ospreys having a natural tendency to return to the area in which they fledged.
Having been pointed in the direction of the tree in which she was sitting, I spent a steamy two hours in a hide, waiting for her to dive. Eventually she obliged – twice – but didn’t catch a fish on either occasion, and after circling the pond a few more times, she then lifted and flew away eastwards. As there are other stretches of water by which she might have come back down I walked further into the reserve to take a look; and it was only through that chance that I happened on the scene of half a dozen people standing on a path, pointing large lenses towards a bramble thicket where, they informed me, there was a litter of badger cubs.
A few moments later this little chap appeared, shortly followed by two siblings; but whereas they were shy and stayed close to the brambles, he came trundling down the bank to take a look at us. At one point he came onto the path, wandering around between our feet and seeming to be especially interested in shoe laces, and we began to become a little concerned: it’s all very well to be intrepid (and it was an amazing experience to be so close to him), but these animals are subject to persecution, and they really need to be wary of humans. I was told that the reserve plans to rope off the area around the sett to try to keep some distance between the cubs and the people, and I think the sooner they put that plan into effect, the better.
So although I couldn’t resist posting this extraordinary encounter, I hope you’ll forgive me for being less than specific about where it happened – though that’s a token gesture really, because the reserve isn’t making any kind of secret of it, and if you receive bird alerts you’ll already know where it is. If you’d like to see my birds of the day, including the osprey and a great egret, they’re here.