In January badgers are less active and spend more time in their setts because it is cold and because there is less food around. However, it appears that there has been some housework going on below ground and fresh bedding was required.
There are signs that the long grass in the second meadow has been vigorously raked through and there are visible trails of hay leading from these raked areas to the holes in the fence:
Apparently badgers spend a lot of time collecting bedding to line and provide warmth to underground chambers for themselves and their cubs (generally born in February). Grasses, hay, fallen leaves and so on are gathered up and pulled backwards into their setts, sometimes from more than 100 metres or more away. As they move backwards, hugging a bundle of bedding under their chins and between their forelegs, they inevitably leave an obvious trail of flattened, debris strewn grass that leads straight to the sett.
It goes without saying that I would love to get a photo of this and I will see what I can do – the trap camera is out covering these trails as I type, just in case the badgers have not completed their work here. I will keep you posted.
Leaning over the fence and peering down the cliff, we see that the badger sett must be in the cliff directly below the second meadow. A lady who lives along the cliff but 200 metres to the south has told us that she has a badger sett at the bottom of her garden and so we had always presumed that the badgers visiting our land came from her sett. We now realise that there is a second sett right by the second meadow. Any cubs that may be born next month are likely to be seen above ground from April…another reason to impatiently anticipate Spring.