Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Havoc the Kestrel

I had great fun at The Haven yesterday.  The Kestrel which was new in last week has found his feet and come to life.  He is far too tame to be a real wildie but I am told does not seem to be trained to the glove so it would appear has not been used by a falconer.  It seems he has had a bleed behind his eye at some stage so can't see well enough to hunt.  When he first came in all that was in his pellets were beetles.  Not good food for a Kestrel but no doubt all he could find, poor thing.  He is now wolfing down day old chicks like they are going out of fashion.  It was great watching him tearing at them with his wonderful beak.

He is now happy to fly around free in the hospital, landing on whatever and whoever he feels like.  It was so mad having a Kestrel whizzing past your head!  At one point he landed on my chest and sat picking at the logo on my fleece.  He must have been there quite a few minutes and it totally made my day.  He landed on the new volunteer's head and 'blessed' her and also on the shoulder of a visitor who was bringing in the cutest fluffiest pigeon I have ever seen.  He flew into the kitchen and landed on a plastic beaker of water, spilling it all over a bag of chick crumb.  He has now been christened 'Havoc' which I think is an absolutely brilliant name for him!

Monday, 25 October 2010


It was a gorgeous morning so I decided to go for a walk around Rush Hill Scrape and follow the path along the wood where I had never explored before.  I set off with my bins and camera on the seat next to me, ready for anything.  I had only been driving a couple of minutes when I had to do an emergency pull in to a layby.  Well actually the entrance to a farmers field but he wasn't there so what he does not know will not hurt him.  This is what I had seen.

Pink Footed Geese

There were about 1000 - 1500 of them grazing in the sugar beet field behind the field where I went strawberry picking earlier this year.  Obviously I have seen Pinkies en masse before but never within spitting distance of my home.  What a treat!  Hopefully this is just the start of seeing them grazing locally.

My walk was fairly uneventful, although very enjoyable.  I had been craving the smells of Autumn and this was the closest to a forest I could think of locally.  Having grown up so close to Epping Forest I have taken Autumn walks through the leaves for granted and have really been missing it this year.  There are just not any forests round here.  There is my wood of course but I am still banned.  I will either have to find somewhere localish to crunch through the leaves or make a long pilgrimage back to High Beech to get my fix!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Hairy hairy quite contrary

"Dinner's in the garden"  said Hairy Hubby as we drank our coffee.  I knew exactly what he meant, he has been waffling on and on about eating Pheasent ever since the shooting season started.  I looked out of the window to see what seed the bird was eating. 

I am currently doing my own little survey of which seed the birds eat.  They don't seem very keen on anything but Black Sunflower seed and I am hoping to attract a wider range of birds to the garden with a wider range of food.  Owlmomma at The Haven gave me some of the seed they use their for the wildies to see if that was better than the floorsweepings they sell in the shops.  Up to yet nothing has touched it apart from Pheasents and only then if it is strewn all over the lawn. 

I was knowledgeably telling The Hairy One about my survey and that the Pheasant would eat every seed put out except what I had put in the tray when typically the dratted bird called me a liar and began to clear the plate.

The Hairy One thought this highly amusing and started musing about his air rifle again.  I told him that as soon as he opened the window the bird would be gone, they are very skittish.  I should have known better with this bird.  Hairy Hubby quietly opened the window, mimed cocking his rifle, aimed and pretended to fire.  The soppy bird just kept eating the seed I said he wouldn't eat and didn't move a muscle.    Even when I slammed the window with a bang he kept right on munching.  Dratted bird, at least it amused His Hairiness!

Monday, 18 October 2010

The villan, The Lads and the leaves

Well I think I have met the culpret of last weeks slaughter.  While sitting in my study chatting to Hairy Hubby and gazing out of the window at the feeders (as I seem to spend half my life doing) a massive juvenile Sparrowhawk landed in the big Sycamore.  Honestly it was huge, it looked like a Golden Eagle sitting there.  So massive that when I grabbed my bins, which were conveniently on the desk for once and looked for it I couldn't see it.  Muttering curses I scanned the tree.  The Hairy One helpfully jabbed his finger at the window saying 'Look there it is' and of course it flew off.  I think it should of been me who wrote the book 'How to be a bad Birdwatcher'

We are having increasingly frequent visits from a band of male Pheasents who I now call 'The Lads'.  They come in a few at a time, very cautious and skittish.  If they see a mere shadow of you through the glass they are gone, running away with that comical gait they have.  They are mostly young, a couple of them barely have tail feathers but one is a fine old gentleman dressed in full Pheasent finery.  I like to see him as the wise old man of the group, teaching The Lads the ways of pheasentry.  Showing them the best places to feed (my garden being top of the list of course) and how to avoid the perils of shooting days.  I have been told by Hairy Hubby via The Tree Surgeon that The Gamekeeper is not allowing shooting of the Pheasents just yet because they are too young and can't fly.  Shooting is confined to Red Legged Partridges at the other side of the wood, which explains why I have seen no signs of it.

Autumn seems later here in Norfolk.  I know for a fact that Spring was so I shouldn't be surprised really.  Most of the trees are still green.  There are a couple which are shedding their leaves, making my garden look very autumnal.  I love it but Hairy Hubby keeps muttering about playing with his garden vac.  Personally I think he should leave it a while yet until there are more leaves.  To save his back you understand, not because I like seeing the leaves!  I am really looking forward to the wood being in full autumn colours. 

It is noticeable now how much more of the sky can be seen through the trees and how much more light is in the forest just from the few leaves which have fallen.  We were even able to see a Muntjac out there last weekend.  That is the first time for months.  I would love to know if they have been there all the time or not.  Maybe we just could not see them.  Because I can't go out into the wood I don't have a clue if they still lie in the blackcurrant field in the afternoons.  I would love to know.  I was told there are Red Deer out there in the winter.  I won't know that either.  Ok time to stop and give myself a slap on the wrist for moaning!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Right time wrong place

Hairy Hubby and I walked Action Dog down to The Broad today.  Himself wanted to have a look off the bridge for pike.  We think there was one lying there but it zoomed off in a cloud of mud as we approached.  More stealth needed next time!

As we got near the bridge (before the pike) I noticed that the gulls on the other side of the road were going mad circling and the ducks were all making a racket and sploshing about.  I assumed that someone was feeding them.  Wrong.  When we crossed the road there was a fisherman in waders standing up to his thighs in the water.  Why do they do that when there is a perfectly good platform to stand on.  I will never understand the logic.  Anyway, Hairy Hubby asked the man if he had caught anything and he said no and doubted that he would because an Otter had just gone through.  That was what all the commotion had been about.  Oh bum I missed it!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

There's a killer on the loose!

There was a fine sunset last night.  Very moody and dramatic.  But sadly it was the last sunset one local resident will ever see. 

You see, there is a killer on the loose.  You would think that in a rural village such atrocities would not happen but it seems nowhere is safe from violence and truly this poor resident met a violent end.  I came out this morning to find carnage everywhere, a trail of poor little white feathers led me to the victim who was in a sorry state.  His neck had been plucked and eaten, just leaving the spinal cord, one leg appears to be missing along with most of his innards. 

I will be asking the Nature Detectives who they think the killer may have been.  Perhaps Forensic evidence may give some clues, or maybe a Psychological profile.  I need to know who committed this terrible crime in my garden because I am hoping to have some new residents soon.  Some lovely white Doves in a pretty Dove Cote.  If there is a killer on the loose I may have to take some action or my new lodgers will be murdered!

I hope this was a random ariel attack, there are several suspicious characters in the area who I am sure would be very capable of such a deed.  I pray it was not a land based attack, I fear that may be more difficult to defend.  I know The Gamekeeper takes care of land predators for the good of her Pheasants but maybe one has slipped the net and is on the loose.

Now it is left for me to clear away the grisly remains before the start to stink out my study.  One thing I do know is that everyone must be on their guard!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Mixed feelings

I have been told via Hairy Hubby that shooting starts in the wood today.  As yet I have seen or heard nothing but I would imagine they start at the other end.  My end is the most distant point.  I am told the beaters may come down here with dogs to flush the birds back to the main part of the wood so I am being careful when Action Dog goes out incase there are any stray gun dogs in the garden.

The whole shoot thing stirs such mixed feelings for me.  It seems so horrible to shoot such daft, soppy birds who really have no clue about life in general.  Most of them are this year's babies and are not even fully grown.  The are so stupid they run rather than fly and dart out of cover when you approach making themselves an easy target.  If they stayed lurking you would not even know they were there.  I still have not forgotten poor old Hoppy who hid behind a tree in my garden because he knew he could not run with his bad leg.  How can anyone shoot something that dopey. 

I also keep telling myself that the birds would not even exist if it were not for the shooting.  That is what they are bred for, rather like cattle and sheep.  It is not like fox hunting, which I am totally opposed to, where the poor things get torn to bits by dogs.  At least they just get shot and then hopefully eaten so it's not all a total waste.  I apologise to any Veggies out there but I do eat meat so I can't be a hypocrite about people eating game birds.  If they were wild creatures being shot, like they do on The Continent I would not agree with it at all.

My other feeling is rather shocking.  I am a bit envious of the people out there with guns.  Not because they are out there shooting things but because they are out there in my beloved wood.  Why are those b*****ds allowed to go tramping around shooting the birds when I am not allowed out there quietly walking incase I scare them!!

So in all very mixed feelings.  Feelings which do not really make sense, but then feelings often have no logic.