Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Wild encounters

After a few months of short days and long nights, this week I’ve really begun to see an increase in the amount of wildlife I am seeing.

Throughout winter the birds in the garden have caught on to the fact that fresh duck food is put out every day, recently it seems they have told all their friends about this too. Despite all the neighbours having bird feeders hanging in their gardens the duck’s food bowl is now the favourite local eating spot amongst the wild birds. The ducks look a bit intimidated by all of the action going on and would now rather walk off and dig around for something else than compete for their own food. By the time I get home the ducks are following me about waiting for another handful of food before they go in for the night.

I don’t mind all of this, I quite enjoy watching all the birds when I’m out in the garden. This morning however I had a new visitor, or if not new then certainly one I hadn’t seen before. As usual I let the ducks out of their coop and went to get the bag of food from the shed. Normally I would use a plant pot to scoop the food out without even looking. By chance today I happened to peek into the bag to see a mouse stranded in the bottom staring up at me. Overnight it must have climbed up the side of the bag and dropped into through the hole at the top eager to get at the food inside. Of course once inside the bag there was no way out. It gave me quite a surprise at first. I carefully turned the bag sideways and what I think I have since identified as a wood mouse jumped out and ran into the hedge. The ducks didn’t even notice the fleeing mouse, they were more interested in why their feed was being delayed.

I had been worried about rats before with kitchen scraps going on the compost heap and the duck feed being kept in the shed. I may have to have a rethink with regards to the storage of the feed but it certainly was a pleasant surprise to see this mouse getting a free meal out of my misjudgement.

That wasn’t my only encounter this week. Whilst driving through the mountains one morning, not less than five hundred metres from the house, a red deer hind jumped over a fence and onto the road in front of me. I wasn’t driving particularly fast and slowed to a stop far enough away so as not to frighten the deer away. She casually walked across the road and effortlessly leapt the fence the other side. This was a real spectacle and one I have not seen for a few years.

So far living in a national park has surpassed all of my expectations, with the seasons changing I hope they’ll be a few more encounters like this before too long.I

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