Friday, 14 June 2013

Wildlife on the farm

"Our" Little Owl.
I've been waiting two years for views like this.

A Buzzard circled over the farm today before a couple of crows  decided to harass it. It headed off toward the trees where it always heads. Then a shining white Little Egret flew into the dyke while swallows skimmed the surface of the pasture before returning to the stables where they always chatter excitedly, their young poking their wide gapes over the edge of the muddy nest and begging loudly.

Hungry mouths
Down in the pig pen, the wagtail family were darting around after insects and the red-legged partridges must be nesting somewhere near, as a pair are always to be seen around the pigs extensive run, sometimes in fairly close association with the guineafowl.

Overhead, there was a good passage of Swifts heading south today. I never cease to be in awe of their aerial agility.

Late afternoon this character came out to hunt.


 
Eyes in the back of its head.











A pair have moved into the old Ash trees for definite. I'm pretty sure they are breeding, but can't prove it yet. The Little Owls are very active at the moment and have become slightly more trusting, showing during daylight hours. I watched this one from the dining room this evening, perching on fenceposts and flying down onto the ground, presumably feeding on grubs and worms.


But it's not just about the birds.

Three nights ago a stoat bounced across the driveway under Sue's car. We know they're around, but it's not often we see them. The hares are back in the pasture again - more welcome than the rabbits which nibble and uproot my plants.

The moles have been very busy too and the other day I was lucky enough to actually see one, not on the farm but crossing the road nearby.

We've got amphibians too. I usually find them when I'm rooting around pulling weeds or when I rearrange the polytunnel. A couple of toads inhabit the polytunnel and greenhouse, seeming to enjoy the warm, humid conditions. One of the guineas was carrying one last week. It was the cause of much squabbling. It's not great that they caught one, but at least it shows that there are enough around. Frogs are more difficult to find, but I do occasionally find them crawling around deep down in the long grassy fringes alongside the dyke.

Root around enough and there's more to be found too. As I pulled the nettles and thistles from around the beehives at the weekend, I unearthed this little critter.

A young newt.
I moved him away from the chickens
which were scraping around where I'd been weeding.
Very occasionally I am lucky enough to witness one rising to the surface of the pond for air, but this is not the first time I've found one well away from water.

I won't pretend I always come across this much wildlife on the farm. I guess it's the season, with babies around and parents busily trying to feed them.

But we must be doing something right.

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