IT IS NOT every day you come face-to-face with a badger, but that is exactly what happened to me last week when checking out one of my local Clackmannanshire setts.

The sett has rapidly growing cubs, which I have been monitoring for a while with a trail camera, and over recent weeks I have become engrossed with their frenetic activity and rough-and-tumble play.

Early one evening, I ventured out to retrieve the camera, and when in the process of unstrapping it from a tree trunk, a badger cub suddenly popped out from the sett entrance only a few feet away from me.

Being new to this world, this cub had obviously never seen a human before, and it looked at me with curious eyes, unsure whether I was friend or foe.

We stared at each other for a while, before the cub decided that caution was the better part of valour and ambled back down into its tunnel.

It was a spell-binding encounter, underlining that when it comes to watching wildlife, always expect the unexpected.

The cubs in this sett are a good size now but are still suckling the mother.

It is a close-knit family group and there is much mutual grooming, which helps to remove ticks and other parasites, as well as reinforce relationship bonds with one another.

Badgers are fastidious animals, and several of my film clips have caught the mother changing the bedding by dragging fresh bracken and grass down into the sett entrance.

Badgers also use latrines, typically sited a short distance away from the sett, which are shallow depression where they deposit their droppings.

This badger family seems to be thriving, but I suspect they will have found life a bit challenging over the last few weeks because earthworms are their favoured food, and with the prolonged spell of dry weather, these will have proved difficult to find.