2020 September, The Water shrew
Another dead Water shrew on the track by the river. There are ponds and standing water about but I'm surprised by how often I seem to find these little, apparently, uninjured, corpses.
August 2020, The Progress of a young Robin
Our tame Robin is growing up, and looking resplendent.
How wonderful to have a wild animal so fearless of you.
I just hope that (s)he doesn't becoming too confiding with the wrong person (or cat).
2019 April 30th: Unexpected visitors
After seemingly months of the usual (very welcome) avian visitors to our garden, suddenly I'm bamboozled by some new unexpected ones:
- First, as I looked up from my writing, through my studio window, there was a movement near the pond that didn't look quite right. At first, I thought it was a shrike (yes, stupid I know, but it was the black bandit mask that caught my eye) then seeing it more clearly through the leaves and branches, I saw it was a Wheatear. After examining the the vicinity, it bathed, dried itself before spending a good 5 minutes preening before flying off. Never seen a Wheatear in the garden before although they are up on the moor of course in the summer.
- Then at breakfast, where we always put out food for the resident Carrion crows and Jackdaws (they have come to expect it and wait for it and bang on the window if we're too slow), a giant Raven floated down and grabbed some bread, stayed, regally, long enough for me to marvel at its glorious size and bearing, before it lifted up and away to where they nest a hundred yards or so away.
All my life I've had an affinity with Ravens, ever since finding them nesting on an old limestone quarry in North Wales as a child, and getting into an argument with another kid who had an airgun (I won that one). A poem about the Raven is here https://richardmeyer.co.uk/index.php/writing/poetry/164-the-raven-evermore
- This winter, I bought a feeder for Niger seed (sorry, now usually spelt 'Nyjer' for obvious reasons). It took a little while for the Goldfinches to find it but they did and now come every day - a pair of them. I've watched them collecting nesting material so hope they'll stay and breed here.
- Yesterday, I went out to replenish the feeders, and saw a smaller different finch at the nyjer seed. A Siskin. She - it was a female - was extraordinarily tame and didn't fly off as the Blue tits and sparrows do, but stayed feeding just a few metres away. Retreating indoors we watched her for ten minutes.
A colony are resident at the RHS Rosemoor gardens, 5 minutes away, so maybe she was from there. We used to get them in the winter on peanuts (those in the red bags they prefer for some reason) but haven't for a few years now, so it was great to see her. Maybe Siskins will nest close by.
- A fantastic bombastic male Bullfinch was feeding on the ground yesterday too. 'Bombastic'? Only in colour - he has the feeblest song you can imagine. In Wales, a pair nested in a stupid little conifer opposite our kitchen window - you'd think an unlikely choice but they did all right, so I think they do nest in odd places.
2018 November 5th: Two Hedgehogs, To remember, remember...
We saw two hedgehogs feeding side by side
And it wouldn't be our fault if they died.
They had been grunting through the summer night.
Safe from traffic - we thought they'd be all right -
In an island garden bordered by woods.
Each evening we offered them special food
In a plastic box wasted and surplus.
They went straight there the first night with no fuss.
Though far too nervous to come out in light:
This their entrench'd anthropogenic plight.
Now mangling their nightly excursions are
(New dreads but) most of all the motor car.
And remember bonfires roast them alive,
As one did a guy on November Five.
2018 October 10th: A surprising toadlet
I put a bare foot into my slipper this morning, and thought it was a slug. Closer examination revealed this little fellow, about the size of my thumbnail (cf. https://richardmeyer.co.uk/index.php/writing/poetry/127-there-was-no-car).
2018 August: House sparrow orphan
It fell from the nest onto our verandah roof, and though we put it in an open box all afternoon, and the parents were about they were not feeding it. So we had no option but to take it in. After 'force-feeding' for one day, it got the idea and is now chirruping and asking for food: every hour from dawn to dusk.
It responds to recorded H. sparrow calls, so we'll try to keep it 'in touch' with its kin. Fingers crossed. I found the information in my book (1984, First Aid and Care of Wildlife, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, written under the name Richard Mark Martin) very useful!!
2017 September 12th: Young grass snakes in compost
This baby snake is on a Sweetcorn leaf which gives an impression of scale.
In 2016 I disturbed one much later in the year and afraid for its survival took it into care but despite my best efforts it did not survive, so this year I left well alone and hoped for the best.
But I wonder if the snakes - which I'm so glad are here - are responsible for the disappearance of my frogs and lizards?
2017 September 2nd: Southern hawker dragonfly Aeshna cyanea
2016 June 30th: Three Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata chicks in Bee hotel
2010 September: Elephant hawk moth Deilephila elpenor caterpillars on Fuschia shrub
2009 July: Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata nesting in pink child's bucket in car port