With all of our spring cleaning activity, I might be forgiven for forgetting to report on a particularly large hole in one of our paddocks.
At a recent dinner party, I told our friends about the hole and the general consensus was that we have a badger.
Well, I don't even know what a badger is, so on returning home I grabbed my iPad and looked up "badger hole photo" or something to that effect.
What appeared was a photo of a hole which had a remarkable similarity to ours.
Then I found a site that compared various animal holes (http://www.discoverwildlife.com/british-wildlife/how-identify-animal-holes).
This site described 6 types of animal holes and I was quickly able to reduce my options to 2.
Our hole belonged to a fox den or a badger sett...but that was as far as I got...
A badger sett can have up to 50 holes. Negative (we've seen only 1). The holes are 20-30cm in diameter and have an arched top and a flat bottom. Check (ours sort of looks like this).
By contrast, a fox den has only a few holes. Check (we've seen only 1). The holes are 20cm in diameter and are generally taller than broad. Negative (our hole is wider than it is tall).
There are other identifiers, such as the colour of fur around the hole (we can't find any), the odour around the hole (we can't detect any) and the detritus outside the hole (we can't see any).
One site suggested I get up close and personal to smell the hole (heaven forbid!) and even plunge my hand into the hole in a search for fur (!?)
Since the first may happen and the second will definitely never happen, we may never know what lurks in our paddock...unless we invest in an infra red camera...
Above: A badger sett hole (https://badgerwatcher.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/badger-sett-entrance-2.jpg)
Above: A fox den hole (http://tracksandsigns.blogspot.it/2011/01/red-fox-den.html)
Above: Our hole
Above: Our hole in perspective