Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Where does the time go?

Blimey, been a while hasn't it?  As you know, moved house of late and as you can imagine, been rather inundated with DIY and if not DIY, very busy with work, which I hasten to add is going rather well.

So what has happened in my world that has dragged me back here to enlighten you dear reader, well, lots actually. So lets begin.

Unwelcome guests

So, we live in the country now and things are a little different here, especially the wildlife. One species in particular, is the rat. Now I have no problem with rats, I grew up seeing them on debris sites next to the railway line where I lived in London. From what I can remember, they were huge beasts, the size of a cat, but then that could be my childhood memory playing tricks. Everything seemed bigger when we were kids. The rats here though are different, they are after all, wild animals that are living in the countryside, like mice, voles, shrews, etc. The rats in London lived in the sewers, the filth and squalor of an urban population. Yet, there's something that the very word 'rat' brings out in people. An immediate disgust, filthy, viscous creatures are words coupled with revulsion upon peoples faces. I must admit, I too am not too happy to see them in my garden, especially at 11am under the bird table whilst sparrows and dunnocks hop around it without a care in the world.

Rats become sexually mature at 5 weeks old! They are capable of having large litters of up to 12 young! So it doesn't take a genius to do the math that a pregnant female with access to a regular supply of food beneath my bird table, could mean, that in no time at all, I could be overrun with them, not good.

So they must be got rid of and I'm not reaching for my gun, because I don't have one, neither am I looking for the rat poison or the deadly rat trap. No, call me soppy, but I really do believe there's plenty of room for everything on our little planet, however, I don't want a breeding colony of rats to live with. So I purchased a Humane rat trap that captures them alive. So far, it's caught 4 (2 males, 2 females) and I have moved them to an even more rural location than where I live now. With mice, you need to remove them at least 100yds from where they were captured to ensure they don't return. Rats however, is 2 miles. So each morning, I check the trap and each one I find goes into the back of the car and is driven way out into the countryside. I always make sure that I find somewhere away from any human habitation, I'm not going to dump my rats onto someone else. Then I flip open the cage and rat runs off into the hedgerow with a squeak to chance its legs somewhere else.

The other unwelcome visitor came as bit of a surprise. My fish pond, which I forgot to show you a picture of last time, here it is:

A work in progress.
Has been up and running for a few months now and I wanted to get some of the fish from my original pond, that have been staying at my Father-in-laws pond during the move, into it. So I managed to catch 3 Koi and two goldfish, one of which came from our very first pond in Dagenham back in the early 90's.

By adding these hardy fish, they will help get the filter going and get the pond ready for the rest of the fish. I would check on them from time to time to make sure all was well, then one day I noticed something rather odd. Instead of my usual 5 fish, there were only 3! The two goldfish were missing, a bit odd I thought, maybe they're hiding. But after a couple of days, still no goldfish. So I set up my trail cam next to the pond and on the first night it caught what I had secretly been dreading.

Heron by the pond.
It seems my lovely goldfish were sushi for this pesky bird. So annoying. The pond is new, it's not an established pond, and it's the only garden pond for quite some distance. So this really was pot luck for this bird who must have spotted whilst flying over. Needless to say, that day, I went out and bought netting and it hasn't been back since, fingers crossed. I just can't wait now to get some plants growing in the pond to give the fish some much needed cover.

Welcome guests

There's been a few of these, with an array of birds at the bird table all day long, a Robin nesting in my soffit boards, a Dunnock singing at his post at the bottom of the garden, a field full of Fieldfares all winter long, Skylarks singing in the skies above the house, Yellowhammers calling from the hedgerows around us, the Sparrowhawk trying his luck at the feeders, Hares and Fallow deer running across the fields outside and the odd buzzard floating over the garden. Yes, the welcome guests completely outnumber the unwelcome.

This week, not far from our house, whilst driving into town, I could not believe my eyes. As I drove into the little village of Denham (or the outskirts of) a Hawk swopped past in front of me on the gusty wind. It was being followed by three rooks and I was so amazed I pulled the car over to a stop immediately. Thankfully, I decided on not leaving my binoculars at work the day before and they were still in the car, I picked them up and focused and there drift lazily on the wind was a Red Kite! 

I've seen plenty of these birds in my time as a trucker and over the years I slowly watched these beautiful birds slowly spread east across the country from Devon and Wales. One place where you was almost guaranteed a good show was on the M40 driving into Oxfordshire. Here they would hang on the wind that blew over the Chilterns like they were hanging from the sky itself and here, in my little part of rural Suffolk, was one of these birds. this is the most furthest east I have seen a Red Kite and I can only hope that I will get to see more of them around these parts in the future.


I've got a new camera control set up as I was impressed with the camera last year and now have a whole host of projects I want to get started on. So I now have a way of recording several cameras at the same time via a DVR.

Still room for another camera!
Last year, I had one camera in the nest box, which happily saw the Blue tits raise their young. I brought that camera with me from our old home and replaced the box I took away with another non-camera box. I've set the camera up here and for the last month, the Blue tits have been in it every single day for a good couple of hours pecking away at the hole and checking it out. However, two days ago, all activity stopped and they haven't been back. Coincidentally, the strong winds started about two days ago too,, so maybe they are just taking cover from the storm at the moment. Strangely though, Facebook sent me a reminder this morning from what was happening this time last year.

The first eggs were laid this time last year!
Despite all the attention the Blue tits have been giving this nest box this year, they are somewhat lagging a bit!

The view today, a bit sparse me thinks.
On the Sparrow box, no action whatsoever, except for the occasional look in from the Blue tits, the Sparrows have paid it no attention. Might need to move it into a new place. 

I do have a new camera though and this one is currently placed by the small wildlife pond I've dug in the front garden. 
The small wildlife pond in the front garden.
Apparently, there used to be a larger one here years ago that crossed into both properties, but they were filled in due to the neighbours concerns over their young children. I've decided to re-instate it, although much smaller than the original, this is not a problem. My old neighbour (Hi Mick & Lisa, we miss you) used to have a sunken flower tub in his back garden that actually had newts in it and this year has even got frog spawn in it! So every little helps and I'm pretty sure that in no time at all, wildlife will find it beneficial to them. 

The wildlife pond cam in place
Already I've watched my tribe of Sparrows and Flash the Blackbird having a good old wash in it. Build it and they will come!

So just a small blog this time to keep you in the loop as it were, bear with me during this time of transition in our lives, the blog will get back on track soon, promise.

Till next time, keep safe, keep smiling.