Sunday, 24 October 2010

Rats, Cats and Pheasants

A few weeks back I mentioned my predicament with a rodent problem we were having in the garden, in particular, what to do about a rather cute baby rat who was eating my bird food. In an effort to discourage ratty I bought a metal feeding pole that I could move around the garden in an attempt to make it more difficult for the rat to find the food. Silly me, as if a rat could be that easily fooled and as the picture shows, he easily managed to climb the pole and help himself to the bird food.

A fox had already polished off cute baby rat's parents but, unfortunately, it didn't take long before cute baby rat became a big fat daddy rat himself and so our rodent problem increased once again. That was until a neighbouring cat found our garden. I got up one morning, a few days ago, to find him sitting on our patio with one dead rat at his feet, 10 mins later there was another, 20 mins later he walked past carrying a third in his mouth, then later in the day he left us a fourth. Since then, despite keeping guard for hours, in all weathers, he hasn't caught anymore.

I can't help feeling sorry for the rats but, on the other hand, it had got to the point where we felt we couldn't leave any doors or windows open in the house as they were nesting so close by. I also can't help admiring the cat's determination and acute senses..most of the time that the cat (don't know his name) was keeping guard he just looked like he was snoozing, with eyes tightly closed, but his ears gave it away as they kept twitching showing he was listening for any sound and very successfully it would seem.

At least without the rats around it has left the fallen bird food free for the pheasants who have returned to the garden for the winter. I have to admit that I have also started throwing food out for them as, if I can keep them over our side of the valley, they won't get caught up in the pheasant shoots. This year, so far, we have two males and five females visiting regularly. Usually, if there is more than one male, they are constantly fighting but these two males are very peaceful chaps...

...unlike two of the females who seem to hate each other and are forever squabbling.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Nothing Exciting

I can't believe it is a whole month since I last posted anything on my blog so here is a quick round up of whats been going on.

I have now finished off my reptile survey and all 20 refuges have been removed leaving the site clear for the return of the ponies...I am so looking forward to having them back:-) I have been quite pleased with the results of the survey having seen lots of slow worms, common lizards and their off-spring but unfortunately no snakes. The lizard in the picture decided to sit on top of one of the refuges instead of underneath.

We have continued to help with the Old Surrey Downs Project and have recently assisted with the separating of the lambs and ewes. Neither seemed especially bothered at being separated from each other although I found it quite sad. The lambs are now being distributed to the various sites for conservation grazing and we have given the ewes that will be put with the ram a bit of an m.o.t. and they are now enjoying some good grazing to prepare them for another pregnancy.

The garden has been producing an abundance of fruit and veg but, as usual, too much to keep up with so we've given lots away. It has been a particularly good year for our apples so those that were less than perfect have been thrown over the fence into the field for any wild animals to enjoy. This picture shows a young roe deer tucking in to them

We always seem to get this glut of vegetables around this time and then nothing for the winter/spring so this year we have bought a small poly tunnel for the veg plot in the hope that we can actually manage to grow some things over the winter months ready for spring, although, apart from cabbages, I'm not sure what else to try at the moment.

Lastly little Ginger guinea pig had to be put to sleep a couple of weeks ago. He was the surprise package from Gemma one of the other guinea pigs shortly after we had got them. We went to bed with two guinea pigs and woke up to find three. He was a lovely 2" bundle of ginger fluff but grew rapidly to become a very handsome and cheeky piggy. Luckily Gemma, the only guinea pig left now, doesn't seem upset at being alone so I don't feel we need to get another one to keep her company but I will really miss him as he was such a big character.