Monday, 3 May 2010

Life and Death in the Countryside

Those that read this blog will recall that Mo lives with his eleven wives and three girl friends. The wives are all called Beryl, the girl friends are/were TC, Goldie and Choo Choo. The girls only visit, sleeping in the wood, up trees, except when broody when they take up coop residence for a few days. They could be seen at sunrise stalking around the wood and orchard, waiting for the pop hole to be opened so they could do their dailies.

We were hoping, with no real belief, that the the sudden disappearance of Goldie could be put down to the cock pheasant that was parading up and down the field edge on the other side of the fence. He'd been there for a week or so, pacing the line, calling out for a mate, and that's when Goldie disappeared. Then Choo Choo went missing as well, as did the pheasant. We noticed that TC rejected the wood during the day and took to loitering under the table by the gate, only venturing out when Mo and the Beryls were in force.

The village has a few foxes but you rarely see them close to the houses during the day. They stalk about on the periphery taking what they can, but this time of year they have youngsters to feed and young cubs need lots of food. The first evidence of this was the sighting of a tiny cub at the side of the road, about a mile outside the village. This pretty little thing was about the size of a small cat, probably 6 or so weeks old, looking as healthy and cute as could be, but also quite dead, struck by a vehicle as it explored its new surroundings.

The foxes have visited before at this time of year and previous Beryls have fallen victim to their need for food. Last time, it was mid morning when the staff were alerted by the frantic calls of Mo. Rushing outside they were met by the sight of a fox chasing around then into the pond a Beryl, Mo stood his ground, shrieking alarm. The fox ran off when he saw help coming, leaving three dead hens.

Theres not a lot to be done about foxes, we cant erect an electric fox proof fence or otherwise secure the grounds. All we can do is take the dogs, Ollie and Ticker, out around the perimeter and through the wood in order to discourage the day time visits. It might work but if not the two patterdales enjoy the experience.

Meanwhile, Odd Job is being kept amused by "Tit TV". All around the grounds are various nesting sites for wild birds. In the cart shed there are pigeons, robins and swallows. In the wood doves, tits and wrens. The walled garden ivy has wrens as well and the front hedge several sparrows and black birds. On the east wall of HQ is a bird box with a camera which relays video of the occupants directly into the canteen. There it can be seen that the occupying blue tits have laid 7 eggs and are caring for them very well, surrounded by their nest of grass, horse hair and a few white downy Mo feathers. One sits most of the time, the other returns often and feeds the sitter. Not enough it would seems as she leaves periodically get more food. She seems to have her own "half done".

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