A weekend in January

This weekend we had hired a heavy duty rotivator to cut through and turn the tough grass sward to create a 5m by 80m bare earth strip that might appeal to passing Turtle Doves.

It was being delivered this morning and, while we waited, we ran the metal detector over the land to be worked.

We found this button:


This is a button from the uniform of a member of the Royal Artillery Regiment, dating from Napoleonic times – in fact, it can be dated at 1795 to 1802. This is what the uniforms would have looked like:


One of these Napoleonic-era soldiers was here in our meadows 200 years ago and lost one of his buttons. Finding the button is like a time machine for the imagination, swirling us back in time.

I was distracted by something else as well. On Thursday evening, we went to a lecture on the Biology of the Rocky Seashore (…which was very interesting but definitely outside the scope of this post…). As we drove along the road that runs below our cliffs at 7pm, there was a badger standing in the middle of the road lit up in the headlights.

I had convinced myself that the badgers didn’t come down onto the road because beyond the road is just shingle beach which surely doesn’t offer much to them. In all the years we have been driving along that road, we have never before seen a badger. I was in equal parts anxious for them now I know that they are coming down to the road and bowled over by how impressive it was. To see one there, floodlit in front of us was spellbinding stuff.

However, it appears that my anxiety was not unfounded since this morning, 36 hours later, there was a report of a dead badger by the side of the road 500m further along than our meadows. Desperately sad. But even more so for us if this is one of the badgers that we have been following daily and have come to know so well. Actually, I am just not sure. I only recognise them in UV light at night and have never seen them in daylight.


The chances are that there are several setts along the cliff but I will be carefully checking my camera footage tomorrow to ensure that all three badgers have made an appearance and can be confirmed as safe.

In the event, the Rotivator never arrived. It was coming down from Broadstairs and, en route, the delivery lorry had got a puncture. But never mind, we can do it all again next weekend.





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