The story of Cookie

Cookie is one of the Badgers from my local sett. She was born in 2014 when the sett had 10 badgers in it. She was one of three cubs that year. She is very distinctive because she has part of her ear missing. Cookie also has a diamond shaped tail, which is thin next to her rump then is very bushy.

 

I have followed her over the past two years. Watching her grow, eat, play, interact with the rest of the badgers and collect bedding. She even came up to our house sometimes. During this time the number of Badgers in the sett went down to 6 or 7.

The sett is on private land which we are very lucky enough to have written permission from the land owner to watch the badgers.

She also is very good at finding my trail camera and sticking her face up to the lens.

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On Tuesday evening I went down to the badger sett and watched Cookie and two other badgers, including Pirate (the Badger with only one eye) who we think is Cookie’s littermate. I took this photo just after 8pm. Cookie is the badger at the back.

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At 9.33pm she appeared on the trail camera for the last time (Cookie is the one at the front)

At 6.30am my dad found a badger dead on the road a few hundred metres from our house. Mum went up to check and confirmed it was Cookie and that she had been hit by a car.

Unfortunately Mum also noticed that Cookie had been lactating, so there were cubs somewhere. Although all the hair on Cookie’s stomach had been worn away where she had been feeding, her teats looked like they were quite dry, so we hoped that she had her cubs as early as December and had been weaning them.

I can not explain how upset I was when I heard about Cookie. My feelings went from sadness to anger. I felt heartbroken.

I know Cookie was a wild animal and as someone who wants to photograph wild animals as a career I shouldn’t get involved, but it is very difficult not to. It made me feel like I didn’t want to carry on taking photos or blogging.

I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support on social media I have had over Cookie. I didn’t realise how many people followed what she got up to.

We took advice from lots of people about what to do about the cubs, but it was just a case of monitoring the sett day and night.

On Wednesday night it was really hard to watch the badgers without Cookie being one of them. Both Mum and I stood at the edge of the sett and cried. We kept thinking we would see her and mum had made a mistake in identifying her. Pirate was around and so was a male badger.

Mum checked the sett a few times during the day while I was at school.

On Thursday night, three badgers snuffled around the sett before heading off in to the fields.

Last night Jo came around to try and help us find the cubs. Jo and I stayed by the sett, while mum went off to check some of the outlying setts. In the first five minutes of us being there Pirate came out then another two, both of which I recognised.

Then finally what we think is a cub came out. I tried not to get really excited. This badger is about a third of the size of the others. Its face is much thinner and not the triangular shape of the adults, its face is slimmer but with a stubby nose.  Its middle strip on its face is whiter and fluffier than the adults. Finally its whole coat is fluffier and almost shiny. It was getting too dark to take any good photos.

I am slightly cautious about saying this is Cookie’s cub because it was much bigger than the cubs were this time last year. They were this size by 15th June. It seemed to be coping very well on its own. It hung around with the other badgers but not as close to them as last years cubs were with their mum. It didn’t go very far away from one of the entrance holes.

I am really hoping that this is Cookie’s cub, and I am going to carry on monitoring the sett for the next few weeks.

Sleep tight Cookie

Cookie selfie

 

About Alex White - Appletonwild

This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. My passion is for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. I am a keen amateur photographer using a Canon SX60 HS. All the photographs on this blog are taken by myself unless stated otherwise. I am a member of A Focus on Nature, the network for Young Nature Conservationists, BBOWT, The Oxon Mammal group and The Oxfordshire badger Group. You can also follow me on Twitter @Appletonwild
This entry was posted in Badgers, mammals, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, Rural life, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The story of Cookie

  1. Julie Gomez says:

    So sorry to hear about Cookie. Wonderful video though. But I know what you mean. It’s hard, if not impossible, to keep our emotions detached from the wildlife we so love and work with. I do hope the new cub is Cookie’s, and may her legacy live on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really sorry to hear about Cookie. I’ve been watching the same family for 20 years and I understand what you must be going through. Allan Bantick

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oxonbirder says:

    Sad time Alex……….I still get emotional over things like this and why not. I’m only human.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. nrowberry says:

    So sorry to read about Cookie. It’s only natural that you would be upset, anyone who really cares about animals like you do, would feel the same. At least Cookie will always be remembered.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. wildlifekate says:

    The trouble with watching and following individuals, like we do, is that we can’t help but form a bond with them and their lives. This, inevitably, leads to a special connection. I have shed many tears over the years when individuals have died or when I lost a whole clutch of Great tits and opened to box to empty it as I could not bear to look at them on my screen. That upset and connection is what makes us the people we are… passionate about the wildlife we follow and ensures we do our upmost to create an environment in which they can survive and thrive. You have been privileged to have shared part of her life. Hopefully you will now be able to continue that connection with the next generation 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. coralseas says:

    Thank you for writing this blog, Alex. I know that it was very difficult for you. You were very privileged to have the time you did with Cookie but I am sorry that it ended too soon for her and in heartache for you. Unfortunately, your passion for wildlife means that you will suffer many heartaches, but to escape that you would have to forfeit all those special times you have watching Cookie and the other badgers in her set. I hope the cub continues to thrive. I look forward to reading about it on your blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Review of 2016 | Appleton Wildlife Diary by Alex White

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