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Little Owl Box put up (again)


The weather has been causing us all sorts of problems.  Not flooding, thankfully, though it has been close.  But the recent heavy rain has also turned everywhere to mud, flooded the drive and turned the garden into a marsh.  We have had to resort to pumping water out into the drainage ditch and banning the hens from the lawn (as they were gleefully tearing into the soft ground and adding to the carnage). We grow weary of this wet, windy and dark winter – bring on spring!

And the poor sheep – their field is soaking.  Thankfully, they have hard standing around the hay feeders.  And they’ll be coming into the lambing shed next week so will be able to dry out.

And witlittle-owl-boxh lambing fast approaching, we have plenty to be doing without the weather adding to our woes.  Nevertheless, one of the recent storms took down another apple tree in the orchard.  Sadly, this one was the tree with the little owl box.  This was the second tree with this owl box to be blown over, not a lucky box so far.  Before we owned the field, little owls used the box regularly.  But when we took ownership, it was just lying on the ground so I refurbished it and put it back up.

Anyway, with it once again blown over, we surveyed our trees to find a new home.  If trees could speak, they’d probably be saying “not me”, fearful they may be number 3!

So, this time, we picked a huge tree with a massive trunk.  The tree benefited from having some ivy removed.  It was probably less impressed when I had to hammer in some nails “sorry”.  But the little owl box is now back and ready, maybe even in time for this year.  We shall watch and see.

I also took the opportunity to scurry up the ladder and secure the bat box which had been buffeted somewhat by the wind.

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Spot the Hedgehog House


I was lucky enough to be given a hedgehog house for Christmas.  Keen to avoid the bat box scenario (where I took months to decide where to put it), I started to look for sites straight away.

In my experience, hedgehogs like to build nests under dense bushes and or wood piles.  Spreading conifers are ideal.  But I found it hard to find the right spot.  We have no spreading conifers.  Our shrubbery was only planted last year and so the bushes are still small.  The hedge is too close to the road.  The veggie patch too busy.

This was proving harder than I’d thought it be.  I could have put it in the field, there’s plenty of mature hedging there.  But I wanted it to be nearby.

Then finally, a solution.  We have a number of wood piles which are there for wildlife (not heading to the wood burner!).  And part of our garden is fenced off to keep the dogs and chickens out, so is nice and quiet.  These fences already have hedgehog tunnels.

So, today I put the hedgehog house in place.  I covered it with a good layer of twigs for insulation and cover.  Can you spot the entrance in the photo above?  If not, you can see it before I covered it in the photo below.


Now, just have to wait and see if a hedgehog appears.  It’s fingers crossed because, truth be told, I have seen no sign of them since moving here.

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Bat box and deer

bat box

A couple of weeks ago, our friend Bernie stopped by.  Bernie likes to travel around the levels in his gypsy caravan pulled by his horse Shaman.  They camped in our orchard and at dusk we nipped over for a drink and a chat.

While we were enjoying our drinks, a small fire and a chat (and Shaman was tucking into the grass with relish), we noticed a number of bats flying around us.  All pipistrelles so far as I could tell.  Now, Mrs D had given me a bat box for my birthday.  My birthday was in May but I hadn’t put the bat box up as I couldn’t decide where to put it.  There was nowhere obvious around the house.  According to the instructions, it should be about 5m off the ground.

So, now I knew there were bats in the orchard, I chose a tree, scurried up the ladder and the bat box is now happily in place.

Then, as we headed off for a short walk around the field with the dogs, we noticed a deer in our little fledgling woodland.  The deer was in a bit of a panic as we were between it and its normal exit.  So we walked around to the other side as the deer did the same at the opposite end.  Then, in a bound, it was off to the field next to us.

I am looking forward to our trees getting a bit taller so that the deer will have a good place to hide.

I took my camera with me this morning in the hope I might catch another glimpse and maybe even get a wee photo, but it was not to be.  But we’ll keep a look out for it.

bat box

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Little Owl Drops By

little owl

When we moved here two years ago, we could hear little owls and tawny owls calling in the evening and during the night.  So, I did some research and found some good quality owl boxes.  We put one tawny owl and one little owl box up.  That said, since we bought our second field, we have also got a little owl box in the orchard in that field as well.

Anyway, in that time we have seen one tawny owl sitting in the veranda of the tawny owl box, and one little owl flying out of the little owl box.

No nests so far.

Today, after lunch, Mrs D left for work and phoned me from the bottom of the drive to say there was an owl in the tawny owl box.

I nipped down with the binoculars and there it was, having a wee nap.  I went and got my camera, but even with my zoom lense, it was far away and so only tiny in the above picture.  I didn’t want to get any closer as I didn’t want to disturb it.  Besides, the sheep in the field would have been curious as to what I was up to and would have made keeping a steady hand pretty tricky.

We are delighted to see an owl using our facilities, even if it has the “wrong” box.

little owl

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Water Voles

water vole

This evening, Nicole was sitting by our pond having a cuppa while I was teaching guitar.  Out of the corner of her eye, she saw movement.  Was it a mouse?  Too big.  Was it a rat?  No, it went for a swim underwater.  It was a water vole.  And not only one, there were lots.

water-vole-eatingQuickly, she ran upstairs and got her camera.  Then quietly, she returned to the pond and waited.  She had only counted to 60 when a little head appeared at the entrance to their burrow.  And soon they were scampering about, eating, swimming and doing water voley things.

We are delighted to be able to provide a natural habitat for these wonderful creatures.  A little research has told us these are in rapid decline all across the UK.  Predation by mink is the main problem, but loss of habitat isn’t helping either.

We’ll be doing everything we can to help our water voles.

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Ducks doing well


A few weeks back, a pair of ducks moved into our pond.  Though a bit fearful at first, they started to realise we meant them no harm.  The dogs were duly shown that the ducks were higher status and so left them be.

adult ducksThe clincher was our hens, once the ducks saw our hens running round us, they relaxed and soon started to come up to the chicken run to be fed, and also to help themselves to the hen’s food.

One day, they disappeared.  Occasionally, we’d see the female, but not often.  We guessed she was sitting on eggs but we didn’t look for fear of disturbing her.

tiny ducklingsThen, one day, ducklings!  In all, she had 10 of them.  The mother had become a little wary of us, but once again, when she saw the hens, over she came and we soon had tiny ducklings all around.

Sometimes, they disappeared.  We assumed the were hiding somewhere, but it turned out she was taking them to our neighbour’s pond (which was inside their chicken area).  Clever duck, using two ponds and two food supplies.

Sadly, 3 ducklings disappeared over the space of a few days.  We suspect crows, but it could have been anything.  There are plenty buzzards around too.  On the bright side, much better than last year when 12 ducklings disappeared on jut a few days (spurring us to buy a duck house).

Now, the remaining 7 are almost fully grown.  And is it me, or does it look like she has 7 girls?