The leaflet from Badger Watch Dorset promises “a magical evening, watching amazing wild creatures in their natural environment ” viewing from comfortable hides , ideal for wildlife photography. So what’s the reality ?
The site has two hides next to each other in a quiet corner of the farm. You have a choice when booking ,simply book a place in one of the hides for £ 20.00 per night or as we did, hire one of the hides for your own use. ( currently costing £150.00 per night )
There’s plenty of free parking on site and it’s at the car park that your meet the guide who will show you to your hide. It’s a good 5-10 minute walk to the hides across a field so good footwear is essential. Also as your in the country remember to bring a torch with you , you’ll need it to find you way back to the car park later. After a brief introduction you are left to get settled into the hide and wait for the action to start.
Each hide can hold up to 12 people, personally I think that could be a bit tight on space especially if like me you travel with the worlds largest camera bag, so if you all have bags and lots of camera equipment, think of a maximum of six and you won’t go far wrong. The hides have padded benches, internal electric lights and large glass viewing windows.
Arrival time was 6.15 pm with the viewing area illuminated from dusk till midnight. You can leave at anytime so in theory you could stay all night. Bring a drink and food with you and as there is no heating in the hide , plenty of layers of clothes, as we found out the temperature starts to drop quickly once the sun goes down. Also remember to keep the noise to a minimum, the animals on view are wild and whilst the hides and external lights didn’t seem to bother them , the slightest noise was enough to spook and frighten both the Fox and Badger.
The hides face a bank some 25 metres away where we were informed was both a Fox den and Badger sett. the first to appear was a Badger, followed by a single Fox and then more Badgers. The lights attract a small army of moths and other flying insects and this in turn attracts the Bats. In total we probably had around an hour and a half viewing time during our 5 hours in the hide.
So would I recommend a visit , yes certainly and not just for the photography, a great chance to see both Fox and Badger up close , remember that these are wild animals and you are not guaranteed to see either, because of the long duration sitting still in a cold hide it’s also not probably going to appeal to family’s with young children. The hide is located in rural Dorset so if you are traveling any distance you will have to book local overnight accommodation.
For more details visit http://www.badgerwatchdorset.co.uk