After several false starts last summer it was a cautiously optimistic group that assembled outside the Filmhouse on a September evening, hoping for an evening of badger spotting. There was no time to waste if we were to make it into position before the badgers were out and about and so we jumped straight into the bus and headed for Beecraigs. Pausing only to put on numerous spare layers of clothing, meet up with Willie and listen to the Ranger's instructions, we headed straight for the hide.
We were not, as it turned out, a moment too soon. Dusk was progressing nicely and the first thing I spotted on looking out of the hide was a badger. After a brief pause while I tried to persuade myself that I was looking at a badger shaped rock - surely it couldn't be that easy? - I was soon trying to express the phrase "Shut-up-shut-up-shut-up: there's a badger!" in frantic sign language. This is pretty much as tricky as it sounds.
Still, we managed to avoid spooking the badger family too much and they ambled about in front of the hide searching for tasty morsels in the undergrowth. To add to the atmosphere, and help mask any noise we were making, the local rooks decided to lay on a deafening dusk chorus.
After an hour or so it was too dark to see anything at all, and even the rooks were settling down, so it was back to the bus for a spot of badger Q&A. We then made for the chip shop in Linlithgow for much needed sustenance.
Thanks very much for Helen for organising this trip - especially as in the end she didn't manage to come - and to Trevor for driving.