zondag 21 juni 2009

A wish that remains a wish... Badgers (Meles meles)

For years I wanted to see a Badger (Meles meles). Problem is, I live in the west part of the Netherlands and Badgers don't live there. Badgers look like they've been invented by Walt Disney, with their black and white stripes upon their head and their clumsy way of walking. Probably they are one of the most beautiful animals that one can come across in the Netherlands and who wouldn't like to see one? Well, I don't! Since I've found out, they don't exist at all! It's a plot! "Oh didn't you see the badger yet? Well, if you walk down this road, for about 5 miles and then you take the sandy road into the forest for about a mile, there's a big oak tree, with three arms. Walk for 200 meters to the east and you'll find a large sett (= a badger's den). There you wait until dusk. And then you'll see the badger" You walk down the road and all the people in the village are laughing their heads off...

I was one of these fools that still believed in the Badger and went to an area where it was believed to exist. Theo - the man that would guide me- knew a place. He showed me some pictures he took a few days before. Everything seemed good... Too good, I should have known... what a scam... ;-)

Yes, we didn't see badgers. But we did see some good stuff. The setting was fantastic.

A beautiful oak forest, without undergrowth and small but nicely shaped tree trunks. We waited until dusk and then the forest turned into magic. I got Clannad songs in my head of a Robin Hood television series I saw in my youth (by the way, the very best Robin Hood serie ever!). I saw something moving through the trees. At first I couldn't see what it was, but then it appeared to be a Roedeer with her calf. Beautiful, they moved through the forest and Theo and I could follow them with our binoculars without them noticing us. The next animal that appeared was a black male Roe deer, which came really close. Although I've seen hundreds of roedeers in my life, I hadn't seen them in this setting. I fantasized where the badger would appear, how it would walk and what it would do. But nothing happened....

I had a fever and and was thinking of the five miles I had to walk back. It wasn't a happy thought. But then we flushed a large animal, it appeared to be a large Wild Boar (Sus scrofa). The adrenaline and a little fear got me going. Especially when we stood between three tiny piglets. Very nice animals, but I was also thinking of it's mother, which was probably not that nice... We walked on. But then we heard the piglets again.. "oink oink oink.." Unbelievable but they were following us. When we walked a little harder, we were able to lose them. On the way back we crossed our path with some Red Deers, some young foxes and a few Nightjars. But the Badgers weren't our friends that night...

And it could have been so nice... (sorry for that music folks...)
(if they existed off course..)

The rest of the weekend we spent on some other local specialties, like the Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis), the Adder (Vipera berus) our only poisonous snake in the Netherlands and some other stuff. Even without the Badgers this weekend was good!!!