Friday, January 04, 2008

Aloo Badger

“Claire’s Indian cooking is rubbish”, said Steve, my next door neighbour. “Ow!”
This outburst was prompted by Claire’s fist making contact with his arm.
“If you don’t like it, cook it yourself!” she declared.
“All right, I was being a bit harsh”, said Steve, rubbing his tricep. “Most of the time, your cooking is great. But not your Lemon Chicken.”
“Oh yeah. That was awful”, said Claire.
“So why did you hit me?” whined Steve.
“Because”, said Claire cryptically. “Anyway, the badger liked it.”
“The badger?” I asked.
“We get a badger in the garden most nights”, said Steve. “That’s why the security light keeps going on.”
“I thought that was one of my cats using your garden as a toilet”, I said laughing.
“Yes, thank you for training them so well”, said Steve. “But no, it’s a badger. It may even be two of them as I’m sure I’ve seen a big one and a smaller one. They come into the garden about dusk.”
“And eat Claire’s food?”
“Yes”, said Steve. “Odd isn’t it?”
“They’re foragers. It’s not that odd”, I said.
“No. I mean it’s odd that they come into the garden to eat Claire’s food. Ow!”
Once again, Claire’s knuckles had bitten into his flesh.
“Stop hitting me. I meant ... er ... I meant that I’m surprised that they like Indian food. They usually eat slugs and stuff.”
“They obviously have a discerning palate”, said Claire.
“Or they’ll eat anything”, said Steve.

It’s been nice discovering that we have badgers in the next door neighbours’ garden of an evening. I'm not sure if they've always been visitors or whether it's the landscaping work that's attracted them. Steve and Claire are having their garden completely dug over at the moment and it looks like a building site. But it does mean lots of crumbly, easily diggable soil and fresh worms and other yummy things being made available. We get a great view of the badgers from our upstairs back bedroom windows. That is unless either of my dogs get a whiff of their scent. Then they’re gnashing and howling and desperately trying to claw their way through the double glazing to get outside. Goodness knows what would happen if they got to meet the badgers face to face. Both species are essentially a mass of muscle arranged around huge teeth and sharp claws. And the badgers are about six times bigger than Buster, my curious, tenacious Daschund/ Manchester Terrier cross.

It’s extraordinary that such a huge animal can be so secretive and rarely seen. The largest of the several badgers that visit Steve and Claire is the size of a coffee table. Where does something that big hide all day? There must be a sett very nearby … which is a good thing as we’ve since used this to successfully oppose the building of a block of flats behind our houses.

Badgers are territorial, but often form into groups (called clans or cetes) led by a dominant male and female. Quite often, they are the only two members of the clan to reproduce. So maybe the badgers next door are extending their family?

That might explain Mrs Badger’s sudden craving for faux Indian food.

Or maybe not. You haven't tasted Claire’s Lemon chicken.

Photos by me

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