Sitting in the dappled light of a July evening, downwind of a badger sett no more than 200 yards from our house I can remember fighting the stiffness growing in my legs as I fought to stay still and quiet. I had been in position for a good 40 minutes before, without warning, the head of a badger began to appear from beneath the ground. I held my breath and lifted the camera to my eye. Fully emerged it was clear the badger was a youngster as it tentatively sniffed the ground – then it raised it’s head and looked straight at me. I clicked the shutter button – the moment was caught – and the cub drifted off to explore further, allowing me to retreat and leave the scene.
Moments such as this, or another a few days later when I was stalking young hare leverets in the field edges and managed to creep to within six feet to take this photograph, have been repeated many times in many places with many different species since, though not always with the camera at the ready.
As often as not a camera is not with you when some minor wonder of the natural world crosses your path, though with the development of smartphone technology over the last decade that is now becoming a rare event. In recent times though, sound recording equipment has been a more likely accompaniment to rambles through field and ditch. This avenue of interest has led to more special moments and experiences that remain cherished – recording through the night at Lakenheath Fen or the Somerset Levels, witnessing the birth of grey seal on a Norfolk beach, listening to cranes trumpeting on the Broads at dawn on a February morning or being buffeted by the sonic boom of a Fallow Deer on still October evening South Cambridgeshire. That I have been able to share these with Denise makes them all the more special – sound recording lends itself more to shared hiding and long waits in bushes as opposed to the more solitary occupation of photography.
The personal discoveries have been many over the last decade and our ‘UK Wildlife Life List’, if we had one, feels as though it has grown exponentially in that time. The blog has often been the prompt to getting out and about in the countryside and I’m grateful for that, as I am that these digital pages will be here to help relive memories in the years to come.