Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’


We’ve had a couple of frosts this month, nothing serious, just a dip closer to zero* rather than below. Personally, I love cold and frosty nights and days, from the crisp blue skies to the clear air to the way the frost sparkles and glitters in the sun. Not forgetting the fact that if it’s cold enough to freeze, it’s not raining 🙂

Of course I make sure the pigs have nice thick beds of straw in their arks (the chickens have their own feather quilted duvets and don’t need any help from me!) but the wildlife can suffer, as you can see in this photo:

Frozen! 12 October 2009

Frozen! 12 October 2009

* Celsius, for my American readers!

Butterfly, butterfly, whence do you come?

I confess I am no naturalist, let alone a lepidopterist, so all I was able to do when I saw this beauty was ooh and aah and take a photo, in the hopes that someone out there will be able to put a name to it:

Butterfly - 28 July 2009

Butterfly - 28 July 2009

Enjoying the sunshine

Forgive the picture-heavy post. I don’t seem to have woken up yet. Uploading photos from yesterday seems like the most sensible route to take, if a degree of coherence is ……. nope, can’t finish the sentence. Need more coffee!

Snail - 23 May 2009

An early morning visitor

Scrumpy tries to get to Perky's food - 23 May 2009

Scrumpy tries to get to Perky's food but doesn't get very far!

Bailey - 23 May 2009

Bailey enjoys the fresh grass

Tia - 23 May 2009

Tia enjoys it even more

The chicks and Xander - 23 May 2009

The chicks and Xander have finally become friends


I have just seen a small fox slinking away from the chicken enclosures.

Naturally, the second I saw it I ran outside into what’s left of the snow (luckily I had my boots on and wasn’t just in my socks!) and am relieved to report that All Is Well. I don’t know if the chickens even noticed their visitor, though Dolly started clucking furiously once I’d finished checking the hedge. The others just wanted to know if I was brining them more warm porridge!

I don’t know if it was me running up the orchard that scared it away or if it has been before and recognised the electric netting but it was definitely going away from the chickens into the hedge when I saw it out of the window and since the chickens weren’t at all worried, I think it’s safe to assume that nothing was tried.

This isn’t the first time this winter that foxes have come a calling. On New Year’s Day, I saw a beautiful young fox, bright red and standing tall, in the pig field, right by the gate opposite the kitchen window. For about a week, the dogs had been barking furiously at something in the field but I couldn’t work on what. On that day, however, they were in the car not tied up outside as it was an extremely cold day, so the fox had no deterrent to prevent it from sauntering to just yards away from the house.

It saw us looking and vanished.

A few weeks later, towards the end of January when we had a sudden hard frost after days of drizzle, the guys heard a yelping one evening that sounded like a dog getting “bitten” by the electric fence. It wasn’t the dogs, however, as mine were with me in Cardiff and theirs was fast asleep by the fire. And it didn’t sound quite like a dog… No guesses what made the noise!

There are no rabbits in the field so the foxes tend to keep away – why come so close to the dogs when there’s nothing to eat? But, when it freezes or snows, they get desperate and desperate foxes try anything.

Thankfully, I always make sure the chickens’ battery is replaced regularly!

I’ve also got in the habit of leaving the fence on at night if it’s going to freeze, just to make sure that any visitors don’t twig that the fence is harmless if it’s switched off. I’ve learnt that from my pigs!!

Hmm, I’ve got a battery that I charged up last night. I just might give that to the chickens, just in case…

RSPB Birdwatch 2009

Earlier today, I took part in the RSPB Birdwatch and had a fantastic time doing so. As a kid, I found birds and birdwatching to be extremely dull so never learnt anything about even the most common of our British garden birds, let alone anything more exotic.

That is something I have come to regret so I decided to use Birdwatch as a springboard to learn more. John, who lives at the farm, is a keen ornithologist, so he spent the hour (and more!) teaching me the basics and by the end of the hour I was spotting quite a few on my own, including the elusive Dunnock.

I’m definitely hooked and intend to spend at least an hour a week trampling through the orchard, woods and field to see what’s going on. John has kindly said I can use his bird books and the binoculars, which will, of course, make things so much easier!

Anyway, we saw 19 species in total:

  • Blackbird x 5
  • Blue tit x 8
  • Buzzard x 1
  • Carrion crow x 2
  • Chaffinch x 2
  • Coal tit x 2
  • Dunnock x 5
  • Great tit x 10
  • House sparrow x 7
  • Jackdaw x 3
  • Long-tailed tit x 2
  • Magpie x 6
  • Redwing x 1
  • Robin x 6
  • Song thrush x 1
  • Starling x 1
  • Treecreeper x 1
  • Woodpigeon x 8
  • Wren x 3

If you want to take part, here’s how:

Taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch is simple and fun.

All you need to do is watch your garden or local park for an hour on either Saturday 24 or Sunday 25 January 2009.

Simply record the highest number of each species seen in your garden (not flying over) at any one time.

So I need to count all the birds I see, right? Wrong. Some birds will return to your garden many times in the hour, so seeing the same blue tit come back 10 times does not make 10 blue tits.

Visit the RSPB website for more information.

Getting to know the neighbours

Ever since I moved the pigs into their field, there’s been an abundance of wildlife, mainly birds, taking advantage of the freshly turned up earth and lashings of manure to secure themselves a snack or two. As autumn turned to winter, the birds have descended en masse and are now so confident around me that they don’t even look up from their scavenging when I enter the pig enclosures (yes, they know as well as the pigs that this two-legger means food!).

But Bailey and Brini have taken things to the next level.

I moved their ark yesterday and as I was pulling out their bedding, I was a bit shocked when a small mouse shot out from the rapidly vanishing straw and vanished off into the undergrowth!

I wonder if they knew about their lodger?!

And how did their furry friend cope without his warm bed last night?

Elephants ‘die earlier in zoos’

The other day we had a report “revealing” that dogs experience jealousy – and now there’s a report which demonstrates that captive elephants have a shorter life span than their cousins in the wild:

A new study comparing wild, captive and working elephants has found that living in zoos can significantly shorten the animals’ lives.

Putting aside the humane aspect of this for one moment, can I just point out that, once again, this isn’t new news. It’s recycled. Take this article on the BBC website from six years ago which states that:

Elephants kept in captivity at zoos and safari parks live short, stressed and unhealthy lives, says an independent report commissioned by the RSPCA.

Does that sound familiar?

I thought this was common knowledge – wild animals do better by themselves in their natural environment and while it is lovely to be able to see them up close (as I did at West Midlands Safari Park a few years ago), I would much rather we put our money, time and resources into ensuring that wild animals can breed and sustain themselves in the wild, rather than spending money on captive breeding programmes. Unless that was specifically to reintroduce animals back to the wild.

The only reason wild animal populations are declining (often to the point of extinction) is because we destroy their environments – or hunt them with no regard for sustaining the population so that we can continue to hunt them…

Rather than removing the animals from the problem, surely we should remove the problem?

There are already excellent projects across the world doing just that but I think we should be doing more. Wild animals are far more majestic and beautiful in the wild than they will ever be in zoos and safari parks.

Hope for red squirrels?

Some people like to scare themselves silly with stories from the BBC news website about man-eating spiders the size of buildings. I find cute and cuddly stuff. Just for the record.

Such as this story which talks about their being hope for the survival of our native red squirrel:

Scientists have found that some red squirrels have developed immunity to a disease that has ravaged their numbers.

The pox is transmitted by grey squirrels; but while greys suffer no ill effects from it, if a red catches the virus it will be dead within weeks.

The findings… suggest a vaccine could now help to save red squirrels from annihilation.

And there’s also an amusing speeded up video of baby red squirrels which I can’t embed on my blog to share, but you can view it on the same page as the article. Which, if you can’t be bothered to move your mouse, is right here.

That video put me in mind of a clip from Hoodwinked:

I loved that film!