Sunday, 30 August 2009

Love is in the Air

I have an admirer and the feeling is mutual. Every time I go into the garden a young robin follows me around. Whatever I am doing he is there watching me and I really love his company.

Yesterday I was cutting back the overgrowth around the small fish pond and as usual my little friend was there so I thought it was about time I had some photos of him. The first photo was taken standing up bending over the bush the robin was in but as my back was sore it was difficult to keep still.

I decided to chance sitting down to take the next photo but expected that Robin might not like that and fly away. On the contrary, he seemed pleased and came even closer to me.

The next 5 minutes I spent telling Robin what a beautiful, handsome young lad he was (actually 'he' might be 'she' but I don't expect Robin cared). His reaction was to hop up and down the branch almost going onto my knee at one point... bit of luck my old cat has lost her appetite for Bird:-)

Friday, 28 August 2009

Foxy Lady gets Fish

I always find it difficult to decide what to do when I find one of my fish looking very ill and at death's door. Do I leave it in the pond and risk infecting the others if it has something catching or do I take it out and bang it on the head to save it suffering or do I take it out and put it somewhere else where it can die peacefully on its own?

Yesterday I found one of my fish looking in a very bad way so I thought I would put it out of its misery but when I went to pick it up it swam away so I decided to put it in a bucket with pond weed and Lilly Pads to shelter it and wait to see if it would improve.

In the evening I checked on it on route to fill up the bird feeders and it wasn't looking too good and by the time I returned from the feeders it appeared to have died but I thought I would leave it in the bucket overnight as I didn't want to disturb it if there was still a bit of life left.

Next morning I got up at 5.30 am to find the bucket on its side and the weed strewn across the garden. I went out to look for the fish but couldn't find it anywhere and then 5 minutes later female fox came into the garden and went straight to an area under some trees where she dragged out my fish and proceeded to eat it.

I am always amazed at how good a fox's sense of smell is; the bucket with the fish in it had been well tucked away but Foxy still managed to smell it out. I have had similar examples of their very efficient noses when our first hen died and we buried it deeply at the end of the garden but a fox still smelt it out and by morning there was nothing left but a big hole.

Poor old fish...I am certain it would have been dead by the time the fox found it and at least the fox went away happy with a full tummy.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Chicken Welfare

In the past I have kept hens and found them to be bright, active creatures that love to stretch their wings, scratch around for bugs, dust bath etc., in fact all the things wild birds do.

My hens would follow me round as I dug the garden so they could grab the odd worm; if I was sitting in the sun they would sit next to me with their wings stretched out also enjoying the warmth; they would love to go onto their tip toes flapping their wings to have a good stretch and sometimes they would just run round the garden chasing a fly. They were happy hens and showed it by producing lots of lovely eggs.

I was therefore horrified to read on the RSPCA website that Defra is currently considering new EU legislation which would reduce the current space that a chicken raised for meat in this country is allowed. When you consider the current area allowed in this country is only about the size of an A4 sheet of paper you can see why I am upset by this.

We wouldn't allow wild birds like Blackbirds, Bluetits or Robins (or any wild animal) to be confined in an equivalent small space but hens are really no different to wild birds. Their natural instinct along with every other living thing is to move. Sometimes I am ashamed to be human.

If you feel like I do please take a minute to go to the RSPCA's website and join their campaign 'Quash the Squash'.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Pheasant Returns

At last I have a chance to get on the computer. With my grandson round here for the holidays and my husband playing on-line chess it is hard to get a turn with enough time to do all the necessary things and post a blog.

We have also been away in Bournemouth for a while, staying in the rather nice Sandbanks Hotel. Our room overlooked Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island so we had plenty of seabirds to keep us amused not to mention the people learning to windsurf and kite surf. Great to watch but a bit too energetic for us to take part. We plumped for the other side of the hotel which adjoined the sandy beach and as the weather was remarkable good we spent a lot of time relaxing and building sandcastles with our grandson.

Back at home nature has been quietly getting on with the year. The squirrels have taken most of the Cob Nuts while we have been away. The Sparrow Hawk continues with its surprise attacks leaving feathers everywhere when it has been successful. The Roe Deer have been making regular appearances at dusk but always when it is just too dark to get a photo and the few remaining bats that we were left with at the end of the hard winter have now multiplied into a healthy colony again.

More good news, the female Pheasant who has been absent from the garden for a while returned today bringing a brood of three babies...clever mummy avoiding those foxes:-)))))

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Namibian Beetle

I have always been a big fan of the Beatles (the hairy musician type) but I am not so keen on the black, vicious looking, creepy crawly type, although I do have a sort of horrified fascination for them. Just lately we seem to have had an invasion of them in our living room and I am constantly having to turf them out into the garden where they belong.

The only beetle I have ever really liked (apart from the Ladybird) is a beetle I came across while travelling in Namibia in 2007 called the Upside Down Beetle.

This clever little chap survives in the desert by crawling to the top of a sand dune at night where it basically turns upside down on to its head allowing moisture brought in by the sea mists to run down grooves in its back and into its mouth. Amazing and kind of cute looking too:-)

When one is in the desert it is hard to imagine that anything could live there for long but there's a surprising amount of wildlife that has adapted and evolved to survive the harsh environment

While we were sitting round the camp fire one evening, under an Acacia tree, (yes we were camping!) our Namibian guide asked what dangerous creatures we had in England. He seemed to find it hard to believe that all we could manage was the Adder and that it rarely kills anyone. The next morning, while the camp was being dismantled (we were moving on to the Skeleton Coast) a beautiful but poisonous Coral snake made its way out of a hole in the same Acacia Tree we had been sitting under the previous evening.

Friday, 7 August 2009

New Forest Return

My visit to the New Forest was as lovely as ever. The spring foals are growing rapidly and spending lots of time playing with each other; the mares are filling out and looking a lot fitter and there is the usual plethora of wildlife round every corner. What a wonderful place. I wish I didn't have to come home...maybe one day I won't:-)

When I got up this morning I became aware of a very strange bird call. I grabbed the binoculars and darted from window to window trying to see what was making the noise but then I realised that my daughter had left her i-phone here and it was that giving her a wake up call (nice way to wake up). lol.

I did hear another welcomed bird call just as we got back from the New Forest. It was our Buzzard pair who have been absent for a few weeks. They were circling above us and very tenderly encouraging an offspring with its flying skills. Great! It shows things are going well with them. Unfortunately they were too high up for me to get a decent picture with my little camera.

While we've been away not only have the dreaded weeds grown again but I'm pleased to say that all our fruit and veg have too. We are eating runner beans and courgettes with every meal and giving them away to anyone who passes by. The cob nuts are ripening nicely and we will soon be racing against the squirrels to harvest them.

The plum tree was so laden with fruit this year that unfortunately a branch broke with the weight of the fruit while we were away. I wonder if they will still ripen enough for us and the birds to eat them.