Wednesday 12 July 2006

Wild Life

red admiral

There has been nothing like the structured approach to watching the wildlife I had hoped for. The best I can come up with for the time being is a list of things spotted, few of which have been confirmed with photos or other witnesses. Still, our presence here doesn't seem to be putting the non human inhabitants off too badly and with as low impact a lifestyle as we can manage I hope there will be plenty more opportunities to record the variety of lifeforms around here.

Insects are in abundance, plenty of ants and ladybirds, daddy longlegs, flies and other familiar sights but also mysterious creatures that defy identification, wispy flying hoverflies with improbably long protuberances, strange weevils, odd looking spiders. Some of the larger ones are very beautiful indeed, a rose chafer, iridescent green with white markings, the size of a 50p coin, huge stag beetles, a privet hawk moth, tiger moths, all sorts of butterflies including something newly hatched that was either a White Admiral or a Purple Emperor, I could only get a picture of the underside of its wings and need a better book to help me identify it accurately. I think it was the Emperor, if so only the second time I've ever seen one. Bees, wasps and hornets all too busy about their business to bother humans. Many sorts of dragonflies and damselflies, very difficult to photograph. We had a glow worm, flashing her lonely light for a mate. I don't know if she was lucky. And there are less desirable insects, the wood boring beetles, mosquitoes, midges and the wholly intolerable horsefly.

There are lizards and newts, frogs and already a toad has moved into my tree nursery to hunt slugs and worms. We saw a slow worm in the hay field under a piece of discarded black plastic and an adder, not here but in Ouville, which hurried into a vole hole to avoid us.

So many birds, we've had swallows since April and now they've been joined by house martins. Several sorts of wagtails, bluetits, greenfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches, bullfinches and sparrows. Blackbirds and thrushes, wrens, spotted flycatchers, crows and in the spring you could hear woodpeckers and cuckoos marking territories in the forest. Little brown birds I have no hope of identifying. We have a pair of buzzards, one day I saw three over the house, a big kestrel (we think) and one afternoon I'm sure there was a commando attack by a sparrow hawk over the courtyard but I've never seen him again. The barn owl is regularly out at night. Still no robin.

Apart from the coypu, which seemed to have moved on, there are deer. Red deer, who bark terrifyingly when startled and roe deer, much smaller. There is a feral cat and quantities of voles, providing food for owls. We haven't seen any boar, and that's not such a bad thing really nor any rabbits, which I think is surprising. Two types of bats, a small fast one that comes out when there is still a little light and a heavier type, that comes out when it is fully dark and makes sounds even I can hear. I'm sure there are other mammals but we've not seen any of them yet.

No comments: