Tuesday 16 October 2012

Animal Wars

Fox and Muntjac

It is a long time since I posted. The reason being that nothing interesting has been happening in the garden - that I have seen, anyway.

Very little is flowering, the animals have been scarce - just the occasional glimpse of a roe deer, muntjac or hare, and nothing noteworthy is going on in the bird world . . . until this week!

A few days ago I went out for a walk and found a little bird dead on the patio. It had obviously hit the window. The interesting thing was that it was a little Willow Warbler (I think), a tiny, pretty little bird. I continued on my walk and decided to pick it up and put it in the bushes out of the way on my return.

When I got back half an hour later, all that remained was a pile of feathers and a few entrails :( I guess there was a magpie around somewhere with a full tummy.

The following day, early in the morning I was just getting down to work in my office when I saw out of the corner of my eye, a tail disappear into the shrubbery next to the driveway. I registered that I did not recognise the tail. It was furry (so not a rat) but definitely not a squirrel. I watched for a while and out came a stoat!

It was too big for a weasel so must have been a stoat. I could not see its tail this time, so was unable to check for the classic black tip to the tail. I grabbed my camera in a bit of a panic but sadly did not manage a photo before it disappeared. My first encounter with a stoat and no photo - I was devastated!

This morning dawned grey and cloudy but when I opened the curtains there was a battle going on between 2 muntjacs, a buck and a doe, and a fox. The fox was trying to attack them and they were attacking back, chasing the fox all over the garden.

The photo above shows a lull in the fighting. Sadly, it was still quite dark and so the photos I took were very disappointing. The furore lasted for about 15 minutes with the muntjacs barking furiously. They were not running away and were incredibly aggressive towards the fox. I noticed later that there was a youngster with them in the woods, which accounts for the aggression.


Finally, the fox - a beautiful specimen with a magnificent tail, ran off out of view reappearing seconds later with a squirrel in its mouth!

I guess that it gave up the idea of venison for breakfast and settled for squirrel instead. It then raced off across the field for a peaceful meal.

Nature in the raw. It is great to witness the behaviour of these beautiful creatures.

But the day did not end there - this afternoon I spotted another dead squirrel on the front lawn and a buzzard and red kite squabbling over it. Once again, no camera to hand! However, later I managed to snap the red kite sitting in a tree at the corner of the lawn.

Red Kite

So, 2012 continues with some very unpredictable weather. Hardly any of the leaves have fallen from the trees yet and they are very late in changing colour.

After having no harvest of apples or pears, there were also very few blackberries or acorns. Luckily, there are plenty of Holly and Pyracantha berries which is good news for the birds.

The recent rain is bringing out the fungi and there is a good crop of Shaggy Parasols and Shaggy Inkcaps (although I don't feel confident enough to eat any of them).

I wonder what kind of winter awaits us?

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