Wildlife in My Garden
I am very lucky to live in the Wye Valley on the edge of the Forest of Dean. Our garden backs onto woodland so we have a wide variety of wildlife. Having cats, I have also seen another layer of wildlife that has been brought to the door over the years!
We have the whole spectrum of wildlife from Deer down to Spiders. There is always something to see all through the year. The birdsong, however, is a constant beautiful backdrop all through the day, but the dawn chorus is also spectacular especially in the spring. This year for the first time we heard a Cuckoo and had regular fly pasts from a Red Kite. The Tawny Owls can be heard at night calling to each other across the valley. Bats are often present in some number at dusk during the summer. At first it was a bit disconcerting, as there is no sound and they fly so quickly you are not sure what you are seeing. Even more so in the bedroom during the early hours! In that case we did manage to carefully catch the little creature and pass it onto the Bat Protection people.
This year we have Crows nesting and I am enjoying listening to them having a conversation with each other! It is a gentle sound, as though they were having a quiet chat whereas in the autumn there is raucous crowing which seems like there’s a bit of dissention in the ranks. To be expected as I suppose the kids are now teenagers! I don’t particularly enjoy the new sounds as they remind me that whilst it’s still warm and bright that the year has moved on and colder weather is on the way.
The animal I most look forward to seeing is the Deer. The garden fence is now patchy, so we get many sightings of the deer, but the downside is that there is not much in garden any longer! I noticed the other day that all the weeds are thriving and the plants I have bought and nurtured are gone almost as soon as they’ve been planted! The deer are also much more brazen. They only used to come down off the fields at night and we didn’t see them very often. Now I have disturbed them from about 10 in the morning through to early evening. They are normally in small groups of females and their young. They always bolt once they have seen us which is good but also disappointing as I would like to watch them for a bit longer. The stags are up in the field with their harem and can be heard rutting in the autumn.
The one visitor I did not enjoy was the Wild Boar. I had been hearing them for a couple of years in the bracken during the summer and did come face to face with a boar. Luckily, he took off, but one morning I couldn’t believe my eyes to see the whole end of the garden had been dug up. They came the next night and dug up a little more, but thankfully they did not return. We have not seen or heard them since. It was a bit soul destroying trying to sort it out. Grass, though, is very resilient and eventually regrew although it is lumpy in places!
We have a lot of deliveries courtesy of the cat. Over the years I think we have seen most of the inhabitants of the surrounding area. We quickly realized that there is several different types of mice, voles and shrews as well as moles and rabbits. Birds were and are also procured in volume. Whist a lot were unfortunately killed, a number were delivered alive and well. Settling down one day in the lounge with a cup of tea, we knew the cat had something as it came thundering down the stairs. She shot through to the kitchen for her dinner and released a fully grown, unharmed and very agitated magpie! It was like trying to catch a pterodactyl as it dispensed mayhem throughout the room skittling ornaments and heirlooms! When we finally caught it and checked it over, its feathers weren’t even ruffled!
I was excited last Autumn to see a Hedgehog with four little hogs. These were the first sightings for many years. We fed them, but could not find where they were coming from, so don’t know if they survived the winter as we have not seen them since. There was also a Badger eating the bird food which was the first I have seen close up. I have heard the Foxes barking but not been lucky enough to see them.
The Pheasants also come to feed on the bird seed and have a peer into the lounge as well!
The Squirrels are entertaining on the bird feeders. We are constantly chasing them off and they have destroyed a few feeders along the way. They did, however, manage to get into the roof last year and did their best to eat everything in the attic including all the Christmas decorations! I was not best pleased and what they wanted with glitter, tinsel, and plastic I don’t know. It was an excuse to buy new decorations though!
My husband witnessed the squirrels at their best the other day. He was walking up the drive to see a blue rope about 4 metres long and half an inch thick disappearing into the hedge. He rushed up and just managed to catch the end before it disappeared. After a brief tug of war with what he initially thought was a cat, he realized it was a “giant squirrel” (his words!) As he had an appointment he hurriedly secured the rope to a piece of machinery in the drive and left. Looking in the mirror as he drove off he glimpsed the giant squirrel trying to undo the knots!
Contributed by Bernice
(Published 27th Jul 2022)