1st November 2011: I have just come back from checking a camera trap in Hoo Wood. There is a section of narrow track, probably a couple of hundred meters long, which is only wide enough for one person; even Spike is unable to pass me, unless I step aside into the brambles. Well, this evening, Spike was ahead of me. I heard the fast shuffling gait of a big old badger. I am familiar with this badger and it isn’t the first time that we have met each other on this particular section of track.
My brain immediately snapped from daydream to full alert mode. It has got to the stage where I begin to panic when I hear that fast shuffling sound. Once the badger is on this narrow track, he is not going to stop for anything. Even Spike has to jump over him. I think Spike panics a little, too. Anyway, I had to quickly decide what I was going to do: was I going to jump over the badger? Was I just going to lift my right leg and let him pass underneath, or was I going to spread my legs to let him pass between them?
He was on me before I could decide which option to go for. Something deep within my brain took over. My weight transferred onto my left leg. My right foot came up, and the leg deftly swung over the badger, touching its body as it passed underneath. As the badger disappeared into the distance, I realised that adrenaline had kicked in and my heart rate had switched to fight or flight mode speed.
I have been asked a number of times if there is anything that frightens me when I am wandering the marsh or Hoo Wood in the darkness. Yes, there is: a marauding badger on a narrow track.