Riding home along the back roads this evening I heard a rustling in the field off to my right. I looked across but couldn’t see anything in my head torch’s beam, although I could clearly hear something now running parallel to me. I cast my head about, and caught sight of a dark shape, moving fast over the winter crop, but at the limit of my lights effectiveness.
At first I thought it was fox, I often see them gamboling around in this area, but it seemed too low to the ground, a hare perhaps, certainly too big for a rabbit. Before I could get a firm identification it jerked to the right, towards the road and I lost whatever it was.
I looked back to the road, but some new disturbance must have alerted me, and caused me to glance right again. A badger broke cover from the verge and ran into my path. Instinctively I pulled on my breaks. The badger, perhaps dazzled by my lights, hesitated, then regained enough confidence to give me a bold stare before turning away, running faster than I would have imagined.
Struck by a car or more likely killed elsewhere then dumped, I’ve seen many dead badgers on the road side, but that was my first encounter with a live one.