Putting your hand into any dark dank hole is fraught with risks, but this is particularly true when the hole is part of the ventilation system of a badger sett. After all there may be a passing badger at the bottom of it, irritated and a little fed up to find fingers sticking out of their air conditioning system. The temptation to bit them off would, I am guessing, be too much.
So when I accidentally dropped the disc from the badger cam with 52 photos and videos on it from the previous night on the ground and saw it bounce and drop down the entrance of one of the vents to the badger sett, I was briefly tempted to leave it where it was.
Only briefly though.
I wanted to see if the badger with the injured front paw was still hanging on as he had been for the past week, gamely shuffling and hoping after his sett mates, so I knelt down on the hard earth and very reluctantly inserted my hand into the dark depths.
I scrabbled about a fair bit pulling out loose soil and small stones but no disc. I pushed on a little further. Still nothing, but a least there was no hot badger breath, or the feel of sharp teeth.
Eventually I felt the familiar shape and with a sense of relief pulled out the disc, seemingly non the worse for its ordeal.
I brushed the soil and dirt from my hands and lower arm, put the disc safely into my wallet and making sure that the badger cam was secure and the timer set, unhitched Lily the Collie from the tree stump and retreated to the path.
Later that afternoon as I watched the videos, I was relieved to see the injured badger not only drinking from the water bowl but getting his fair share of peanuts. He also seemed to be foraging with his clan and his nose was clearly muddy and later video evidence shows him returning with two of the badgers.
We will see what tonight brings.