So I thought I'd share some of our photos from the past year...
We've a family of hedgehogs nearby, that we used to think might live in a pile of old tree-cuttings just the other side of our hedge, but when we cleared the land (very carefully !) they were nowhere to be found. They can be seen out and about quite often at dusk and beyond, and one night in August we were fortunate to see a pair of them together in our garden.
Maybe it's some strange mating ritual but, although I know nothing about hedgehogs, it seemed rather late in the year for them to be breeding. They didn't seem to mind our presence or the flash photography at all, although we were very close.
Usually though, we see them individually and my wife sometimes just can't resist picking them up !!
I know the 'tree-rats' aren't to everyone's taste, but we like to see them around...
|on the neighbours' bird feeder....|
|Blackbird - very common visitors and they nest in our hedges...|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker in the Ash|
tree in the field next to the garden
|Greenfinch in the same tree|
|Swallows - Birds on a transmission wire...|
|Goldfinch in the winter...|
|One of the farmer's ducks keeping a very watchful|
eye on a visiting pheasant...
|the Robin, another very regular visitor...|
There's also the Kestrels, see my profile thumbnail picture, but I've never yet managed to get a good-enough quality picture that would stand up to sufficient enlargement for inclusion in a post.
The most elusive birds, without a doubt, are the owls. Through the night, we can often hear Little Owls crying in the woods at the front. We also see and hear Tawny Owls most nights, and they sometimes perch on the lamp-post or in the nearby trees; unfortunately, it's always quite dark and we've never yet managed to bag a decent photo. One day....
We've seen plenty of rabbits in the adacent farmer's fields and in the lane that leads up to our house, but as far as we know they've never ventured into the garden. We were initially concerned that they'd eat our vegetables, but we've never seen any evidence of this at all.
Because of the presence of the wild rabbits, it's important that we keep our own rabbits' vaccinations up to date.
We've seen fieldmice, shrews and voles in the garden. And occasionally a passing mole leaves its mark in a few places, although we've never actually seen him.
The other day I saw a weasel in the field, not 10 metres from the house. Beautiful animals but a bit too close to our pet rabbits for comfort. However, maybe they've been around for a while and, touch wood, they've never bothered the rabbits yet....although I'm sure they could climb into the rabbits' enclosure easily enough.
There's also plenty of frogs of different types - we've a garden pond in which they spawn. Out in the garden after dark, you sometimes need to very careful not to tread on one....
We've had a few unwanted visitors, too - there was one particular rat that was very adept at getting into our rabbit enclosure to steal their food. Every time we made it more difficult for him, he'd always find a new way to get back in ! We would watch him on the CCTV monitors - once he'd discovered a new way in, he'd grab a piece of food and be out again in just a few seconds, and then he'd follow exactly the same route very regularly thereafter, around every minute or so.
You have to marvel at their intelligence and caution, but rats spread disease so they have to be kept under control, and unfortunately he had to go.... The neighbouring farm has livery stables, sheep, chickens and ducks, and so we suspect the rats generally stick closer to their feed stores, and it's been a while since we've seen one.
We'll post again whenever we've compiled a fresh batch of photos...