I forget when we decided to call the badger ‘Dyson’. He earned his name, for he is without doubt a hoover: anything edible is swept up in effortless aplomb. He cuts a fine figure against the lamp-lit flowerbeds of night.
Yes, this is a night photo. Eurasian badgers – Meles meles – are nocturnal, or at least they’re supposed to be. Over the past few weeks, there have been an abnormally high number of daylight badger clips circulating on social media, which may or may not relate to the dry weather and the clear difficulty in finding earthworms, their main diet.
Badgers are also sociable. Group size averages six, but Dyson arrived here alone. Dispersal from the family sett is less common in badgers than it is in foxes, and a bite wound on his rump suggested that his departure might not have been by choice. Weeks became months, and he is still a nightly fixture, sharing the garden with mice and owls.
And of course, foxes. For the most part, they ignore him. For the most part. Not always.
But on Tuesday, the tables turned. Pretty Face, the oldest of our foxes, lounged by the path, ignoring Dyson in his hoovering.
Then her ears twitched. Her eyes darkened. She stared at the gate, her body language flickering between defensive and assertive.
I waited, expecting to see her confront a rival fox. But no: by the gate was a second striped face!
So Dyson has a mate. He greeted her with mutual grooming.
And they have been here together every night since.
Perhaps the garden will be full of badger cubs next year.