Deep in Tewin Orchard lies a mammal hide facing a sprawling badger sett of more than ten badgers. We are thrilled to offer an evening of badger watching here - a special night you’re sure to remember! As well as our resident badgers you are also likely to see foxes, owls and a variety of other wildlife in natural surroundings.
There are several ways to book the badger hide:
- Donation-based unescorted badger watching evenings - each available date is released 60 days in advance on a rolling basis, at midnight. Dates for mid-March 2020 onwards will be available to book in the New Year.
- Badger Watching for Families events run all through the badger watching season and are escorted group watches, hosted by a volunteer from Herts and Middx Badger Group. These can be booked online.
- Badger Watching Gift Experience Vouchers are available for purchase through our Wildlife Gift Shop.
- Community and corporate groups can book the hide by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was like our own private Springwatch experience!2019
It was an amazing experience. So peaceful and great to be so close to nature2019
How do I book?
Through the booking calendar on the Trust's website
How much does it cost?
Suggested donation is £10 per adult, £5 per child (maximum capacity is 12). Community groups can book the hide for exclusive use.
How long does the watch last?
It may take an hour or more for animals to emerge so expect to be there for at least a couple of hours. You are welcome to stay as long as you like – please be quiet as you leave so as not to disturb the neighbours.
What time should we get there?
Depending on the time of year, aim for half an hour before dusk so you can find the hide and get settled in quietly before the wildlife comes out to feed.
Are there any toilet facilities at the hide?
Tewin Orchard has a compost toilet. Please do not urinate outside – human wee is very pungent and will scare off the wildlife.
Will there be any Trust personnel available during the evening?
No, you will be alone. Please ensure you have a mobile phone in case of illness or emergency.
Can I take pictures?
Yes but badgers and other wildlife are very sensitive to movement and light – the glare from your mobile phone and your camera’s flash will scare them off.
Please contact us if you have any other questions – email email@example.com or call 01727-858901.
Find out more about badgers
Tewin Orchard and Hopkyns’ Wood Nature Reserve provides a great natural habitat for wildlife. Alongside the apple trees, butterflies and birds, the site is home to a much shyer creature – the badger.
Badgers are one of the larger members of the mustelid family which includes ferrets, otters and polecats and can grow up to one metre in size. Badgers have hefty reserves of fat that they increase during the autumn ahead of going into winter torpor – a state of decreased physiological activity with a reduced body temperature and metabolic rate. Badgers have a great sense of smell and, as with many mammals, they use scent to mark territory and communicate, having several scent glands which they use for identification. Whilst most nocturnal animals have large eyes to help them see in the dark, badgers’ eyes are fairly small which indicates that vision isn’t as important as their other senses. Badgers’ ears are also small in comparison to their bodies but they communicate using around 16 distinctive calls including growls, clucks, purrs and hisses. Badgers startle easily, suggesting that their hearing is relatively keen. Badgers are omnivores but their food of choice is earthworms – they can eat up to 200 a night. If worms are not so readily available badgers are extremely adaptable and opportunistic, feeding on berries, fruit, nuts, insects, small mammals and even fish.
A tidy home
Badgers use their long, powerful claws to dig underground burrows, called setts, where they live in large family groups or ‘clans’. The boundaries to these setts are marked by latrines which helps to avoid conflict with other badger clans. Setts can be hundreds of years old and are passed down through the generations, developing and growing depending on the needs of the clan at the time. Typically, clans will number around six adults, but can increase to over 10 depending on local resources. Badgers have also been known to share their setts with foxes or rabbits. Much like we tidy our bedrooms and change our bedsheets, badgers will drag out their old bedding – hay, grass and leaves – to prevent disease and lice. This means that they spend a lot of time collecting new bedding to replace the old, dragging material they find into their setts for warmth.
An occupied sett can be recognised by the tidy burrow entrances, marked with piles of used bedding and nearby latrine pits where they leave their droppings.
Badgers have an amazing reproductive technique called delayed implantation whereby the female badger, or sow, can mate at any time through the year but still keep her birth time to the spring. This means that badgers are able to give birth at the most suitable time of year to ensure the best chance of survival for their offspring.
Badgers don’t technically hibernate, however they do put on a lot of weight in the autumn to keep them with good reserves of fat when food is scarcer in the winter months. They also sleep deeper and longer and in very cold weather can stay underground for days at a time.
How the Trust looks after Tewin Orchard
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust works hard to protect Tewin Orchard Nature Reserve. The majority of habitat management and tree pruning
takes place over the autumn and winter after the fruit has been harvested. The orchard and meadow are mown in late summer to ensure a healthy habitat for wildlife.
Terms and Conditions
1. You agree to respect the wildlife and nature reserve by parking responsibly, being quiet in the hide and leaving quietly so not to disturb nearby residences.
2. You understand the badgers are a wild animal and sightings are not guaranteed. Donations made at the time of booking will not be refunded due
to the no show of badgers.
3. You agree to give as much notice as possible if you need to cancel as most nights in the summer will have a waitlist. We will try to rearrange a date
depending on availability.
4. You are aware there are no toilets in the nature reserve and agree not to urinate in the orchard.
5. We will occasionally need to cancel a badger hide booking due to high winds or heavy rain – we will contact you by email and phone using your details supplied on booking. We will rebook another date dependent on availability.
6. Emergencies – you will be unaccompanied in the badger hide and so please ensure you have a charged mobile phone with you in case of the unlikely event of an emergency. The on-call emergency phone number is 07825-966165. Full instructions are on the wall in the badger hide.
7. Lost and Found – we will attempt to locate and reunite you with any lost items but be aware you are responsible for your belongings at all times.
The Audrey Randall hide in Tewin Orchard is run with the kind support of Herts & Middlesex Badger Group.