I know a lot of people view the return of shorter days with considerable dread but I actually look forward to them.
For I find that, when the majority of the Bay are cosily watching evening TV, is also the very best time to get the dog out for a long walk and, quite often, on those nocturnal rambles around town, we will bump into some unexpected wildlife.
One of these recent encounters took place just a stone’s throw away from Torquay’s busy harbour.
Walking down one of the dark tree-lined streets the other night, a large, squat animal suddenly rushed out from the shadows, provoking some hysterical barking from my Dachshund!
It was a badger - the historical foe of my little dog!
Previously, when we lived in Dorset, we used to have a family of badgers visiting our garden. During one particularly long hot summer, they found their usual food of earthworms in short supply and took to digging huge trenches in our lawn!
My mum began supply them with peanut butter sandwiches, which certainly saved our grass, and soon the whole extended family would descend upon our garden, even cheekily tapping the conservatory door if the sandwiches hadn’t been put out on time!
I got unbelievably close to that particular family of badgers and I felt privileged to witness their intelligence and devotion to their cubs and one another.
Sadly, this iconic animal is now in the crosshairs of those who, in my opinion, wrongly blame it as the main vector of Bovine TB.
Recently the Government, against huge opposition, announced that they would be expanding their badger cull in Devon.
Wildlife experts Jane Goodall, Virginia McKenna, Chris Packham and Brian May have all backed a letter to Boris Johnson which warns: “If your Government chooses to continue the discredited and ineffective badger-culling policy, you will be remembered as the prime minister who presided over the greatest slaughter of a protected species in living memory.”
What a sad indictment of modern-day living that that particular Torquay town-based badger is now far safer than his more rural living cousins.
Read more about these mysterious mustelids at www.badgertrust.org.uk