Thursday, 5 November 2015

An island of isolation in the fog.

I spent most of Tuesday on electric fence maintenance. One of the wooden posts had snapped at the base and I wanted to move the fence in a little from the edge of the dyke to give it some clearance from the overgrown grass.
During the summer I split the sheep field into 6 sections and rotate the sheep through them. But for the winter I remove some of the electric fence so they have two or three sections.

Now you may think that if an electric fence is going to kill you, it would do so with a short, sharp shock. But no. The sole purpose in life of electric fence wire is to tangle itself into a completely unfathomable knot so you are far more likely to die by long. slow torture trying to disentanlge it.

Of course my decision to spend most of the day down in the sheep field had nothing to do with yesterday's sighting of a Corn Bunting down there! Unfortunately today was even murkier than yesterday. I couldn't even see the house from down in the field, not for the whole day. I enjoy days like this, just working away at my own pace in solitude. I did hear the corn bunting in flight once, and I occasionally heard yellowhammer and reed bunting too, but spotting anything today was always going to be tricky.

I did however see this very welcome visitor, probably my favourite bird to visit the farm in the winter.



I didn't see it fly in. It was just there, perched on the tractor machinery which Don has parked at the back corner of my land. It looked massive perched there in the gloom, but just as I raised my phone to my telescope it flew off, bouyant on its long wings. I managed to find it again on the far side of Don's field, perched all fluffed up, but it really was sitting on the edge of the fog. Anyway, that explains the quality of the photo.

There's been a big influx of Short-eared Owls into the east coast over the last couple of weeks. I was lucky enough to see one come in off the sea a couple of weeks ago on the Norfolk coast. I was hopeful that this winter we would again have them on the farm and hopefully this one will stay for a while and maybe be joined by one or two more.

And back to that piece of tractor machinery sitting at the bottom of my field and a tale I forget to tell you. A couple of weeks back I saw a red landrover driving along the back dyke. This is not too unusual. The farmer at the back lets the shooters onto his land. I normally make lots of noise when I see them, just to annoy them. I start hammering something or clanging my shovel loudly. But this landrover seemed to be on our side of the dyke and when it continued across the bottom of my land and then pulled to a halt, I quickly headed down the land to investigate and challenge them.
As I headed down through the long grass and the young trees, I saw two blokes with shotguns and lurchers walking through the crop field next to my land. They called to me to alert me that they were shooting. Well, you can imagine my reply!!! I most certainly can't repeat it here. I started running towards the landrover, impolitely and loudly 'requesting' that they leave my land. Three guys were presumably waiting to shoot anything flushed up by the others. It was fortunate I was there, as I flushed up a small covey of grey partridges and a couple of pheasants from the long grass which I leave deliberately for wildlife.  I'm fairly sure that had I not been there these would have been subjected to a volley of bullets, right over my land and with the sheep there too.These people think they can do whatever they want wherever they please. I wonder too whether their intention was hare coursing, to drive the hares over my land and into the short grass of Don's field next door.
Anyway, these idiots obviously knew they were in the wrong, for once they realised I wasn't friendly they rapidly jumped into the landrover and scootled off back across the field, picking the other two up as they went. What a shame I couldn't get close enough to get their number.
I ran back to the house, hoping that they would come back past along the road, but alas they headed the other way.
So that's why the tractor machinery now blocks the gap at the bottom. Not that I think the same people are likely to try that again.

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