As fresh leaves began to open on the trees, so too opened the doors to the Haweswater Badger Hide to welcome its very first visitors this April.
Construction of the hide took place through the 2018/19 autumn season by the RSPB Haweswater team, a project initiated, designed and managed by our incredible Warden, Mal. As Naddle Farm is central to a number of badger territories, therefore allowing badgers to pass through the farm, the hide had the potential to enable visitors to view these elusive animals at close range.
Despite the hide being a perfect, cosy structure (complete with hot drink making facilities!) and the badgers showing up each evening prior to the big launch in April, the thought of opening it for our first ever public Guided Badger Watch was still a pretty nail-biting one. What if the badgers ‘took a night off’? What if they sniffed us out with their incredible sense of smell and ran off (laughing)?
Nevertheless, the night arrived to lead the first ever Guided Badger Watch at Haweswater and, thankfully, it couldn’t have gone any better! We had three individuals visit on the first evening, who quickly gained the names Beatrix, Porridge and Gremlin, which has continued to help us keep track of known and new badgers visiting. By matching and comparing identification features such as tail length, scars, colouration and other unique features (such as impressively long ear tufts on Gremlin), we have been able to build a general profile of badger activity at the hide, which is continuing to show us just how varied and – most importantly – somewhat unpredictable the social structures of these elusive animals can be.
From that initial, nail-biting evening, we have been thrilled to share 100% successful Badger Watches with almost 150 visitors these past six months; introducing families, friends, students, photographers, tourists and locals to the Haweswater badgers – often their first wild sightings of these enigmatic mammals.
Due to our success these initial six months, we have recently made the decision to keep the Haweswater Badger Hide open throughout autumn and winter 2019/20, and will continue to monitor the activity of badgers whilst offering our popular Guided Badger Watches and Exclusive Hide Hire bookings. After all, what better way to spend a cosy winter evening than watching badgers with a cup of hot chocolate?
If you would like to spend an evening watching the Haweswater Badgers, please note that pre-booking is essential. Guided Watches are hosted ever Monday and Wednesday evening, with Exclusive Hide Hire available every other night. All dates are listed and can be booked directly at rspbhaweswater.eventbrite.co.uk, however you are welcome to send any enquiries you may have to [email protected].
Visitor Development Officer, RSPB Haweswater