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Behind The Lens: Badgers in Bluebells

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

The month of May celebrates spring at its peak, the coming summer, and the month that my image of a badger in bluebells features in the BBC Countryfile Calendar!

ⓒ Rachel Bigsby 2022 BBC Countryfile calendar entry for ‘Miracles of Nature’ .

ⓒ Rachel Bigsby 2022 BBC Countryfile calendar finalist

Badgers (Meles meles) are a living symbol of our British countryside. They are iconic mammals and a wood's ruling clan. They live underground setts which are passed down through generations and carve a network of ancestral pathways throughout the undergrowth.

I have been blessed to spend four years with a clan of badgers settled on the outskirts of an ancient woodland which in May, springs alive with bluebells. I try to resist the urge to anthropomorphise the clan, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that the badgers feel like friends. Their individual characteristics and features allow me to recognise certain members, and I have a particular fondness for the clan's boar (male badger) and the cub of 2021. With this bond, I set myself the challenge of photographing Britain's most iconic mammal, amongst Britain's most iconic wildflower. The idea was indeed a challenge, as the month of May 2021 was cold and wet, but with much perseverance, the image was finally achieved!

Badgers In Bluebells: The Story

ⓒ Filmed by Rachel Bigsby with Miguel Pilgrim and Lee Douglas Brown.

Happily, my luck in 2022, has been much greater. The weather has been warm and calm, and the evenings that I have spent with badgers amongst sweet bluebells will stay with me forever. As the badgers pick Paraceras melis or the badger flea underground, much of their time above ground is spent grooming and scratching. Whilst just before sunset, the sows (female badgers) collect bluebells for use as bedding material for the family's sleeping quarters which as it decays, produces heat to keep the cubs warm.

ⓒ Rachel Bigsby

ⓒ Rachel Bigsby

ⓒ Rachel Bigsby

I hope that in the years ahead I will have many more bewitching encounters with these badgers and that my memories with this resilient, alluring, fascinating clan will continue to grow. ​However, thousands of badgers are killed every year by the senseless slaughter of the cull, by cars and by illegal persecution. Sadly, it is only a matter of time before badgers become extinct in the UK.

To find out more about how you can help badgers, visit:

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