I’ve been busy lately – working in the garden and down in Wiltshire for the solstice – so I haven’t had a chance to get out to the woods for a couple of weeks. However, I’d like to get a few minor experiences on the record. They aren’t really enough for a post on their own, hence I’ve brought them together into a collection of short tales.
A Very Regular Owl
Every summer we get a visit from the local tawny owl. We have a lot of tawny owls in the area. For the last three years there has been a nest in a small copse about a quarter mile from our house. You can year the young owls (owlets?) calling as they start to fly from the nest.
This is a picture of the owl that sat on our roof on June 12th. Looking back through the archives, I note that I had taken similar pictures of the owl on June 12th 2008 and June 2nd 2009. It isn’t a very frequent visitor, and it only seems to come in early June. Clearly an owl of very regular habits!
So why does it only visit the house at this one time of year? Is it something to do with having young in the nest? Or is it that I only see it in the long evenings of June?
A Family of Wrens
I was walking through the wood the other day when I disturbed a family of wrens. They were obviously nesting in an ivy-covered tree stump. As I walked past, three of the tiny birds flitted out and perched on nearby trees, apart from one of them which perched on my arm. It was only there for a few seconds (long enough to poo on my sleeve!) but it was fantastic to have one of these delightful little birds so close. Thinking about it afterwards, I was in a fairly remote part of the woods and the wrens had quite possibly never seen a human before. Truly a new experience for both of us.
The Bedfordshire Red Kites
Regular readers may remember my quest to see Red Kites in our village. I haven’t seen them for a while. I don’t know if this is because they haven’t been in the area or because I haven’t been out and about so much since Scarlett arrived. Anyway, I was pleased when my wife came home last week to say that she’d watched one of the kites as it glided low over the end of our road. I’ll have to make an effort to get out more and try and get a photograph, but at least I know they’re still in the area.
I have a soft spot for hedgehogs. We still get one coming into the garden occasionally (I see the poo on the lawn) but I don’t see them very often out in the wild.
I was walking through the churchyard in the village the other evening. It was about 7.30pm and still very light. There, sitting on the path in front of me was a hedgehog, large as life. Before I could take out my camera it had raised itself up on its little legs and trotted off to a gravestone by the path.
This gravestone dates from the mid 19th century. It’s a large horizontal stone slab, raised up on blocks on each corner like a low stone table, about 4″ off the ground. Without pausing, the hedgehog ran straight underneath it.
I lay down on the ground and peered in. There was a clear run worn into the grass, and under the stone was a wide hollow space, clear and dry. The hedgehog obviously has its home there, and a perfect home it is too. I don’t know what the rightful owner of the grave (one Mr John Francis) would say about having a lodger, but the urchin isn’t doing any harm so I hope he wouldn’t mind sharing too much.
Incidentally, I was walking through the churchyard the day before and a kestrel flapped up from where it had been perched on the grave next to this one. I assume that kestrels don’t hunt hedgehogs, so perhaps it was just a coincidence. It seems that even in a pretty rural village like ours the old graveyard is still a haven for wildlife of different kinds.