Sunday, 3 May 2009


It must be that time of year, but we have noticed a lot of wildlife recently and some of it apparently is rare or it is rare to see it so I wanted to record it.

When we first came here I noticed that we had a bird with a very distinctive call and semi recognised it, I suppose from my childhood. The name yellow hammer came to mind, so I looked it up and sure enough we have a yellow hammer, apparently they are very rare.

We hear it often but had never seen it and then last week M remarked on a bird outside the office window with very bright markings and there was our yellow hammer stealing the hens grain! Just beautiful, I don't think I have ever seen one before, and M hadn't either so we both feel very honored.

As I have mentioned before we also have foxes and have been walking the fields 3 times a day (great exercises to try to walk round all the hedges of 11 enclosures totaling 50 acres, I might actually loose some weight!!) to try to pusude Mr Fox to leave our hens alone (see previous post). We have seen Mr (or Mrs) Fox several times and also their cubs, however, since we started our regular walks the Fox family seem to have moved off as we haven't seen any evidence of them now for about 2 or 3 days. We won't get complacent though and will keep the walks going, good excercise and lovely to see what is growing in the hedgerows and keep our eyes peeled for other wildlife.

Whilst on our walks we have also seen deer. We had seen evidence of them before in hoof prints in the mud, but until last week had never actually seen them in the flesh. On both occasions of sightings, both M and I thought it was Fox hiding in the grass and then suddenly they stood up and we realised that (in my case) it was Mr deer and in M's case it was Mr and Mrs, no young though.

There is also evidence of badger in footprints in the mud but as yet they haven't been sighted. We used to have rabbits but they have all gone, think the fox has decimated that population. Last year we also saw hares but no sightings this year. We have lots of pheasants and I have to admit to have occasionally mistaken a hen pheasant for fox too. The other morning whist making tea first thing I saw a young cock pheasant right under the kitchen window, he must have been hungry to have got that close to the house. They are rather lovely and of course at this time of year safe from ending up as dinner! On the subject of dinner there are of course lots of pigeon, but they haven't ended up in the pot yet! Other bird life includes the swallows who are busy making nests and generally having a lovely time.

The final sighting was in some ways the most exciting (apart from the yellow hammer) . Yesterday I was digging out some muck from under its covering of black plastic (to keep it from being completely dissolved and it helps prevent the weeds) and as I peeled back the plastic found a rather beautiful snake. Managed to find M to see it before it disappeared too. I love snakes but have never seen one in the wild before; after some research (M thought it was a grass snake and we were pretty sure it wasn't an adder) we confirmed that it was a grass snake and rather a long one. Apparently they do grow very long and love hibernating in compost heaps. Also they are very shy and are very difficult to see because they will hide if they feel the vibrations when you come near them, so we were very very lucky to see it. Grass snakes are not harmful so we don't have to worry about the hens or the cats disturbing it.