Saturday, 8 February 2014

News from the Old Dairy

From Tony Thain:

Over the winter the outbuildings at The Old Dairy have been very quiet, with the occasional rustling from the resident mice. There have been no sightings of my pest controller, Wilfred the Weasel, and I was getting a bit worried that something nasty had befallen him over the winter, as so often happens in nature.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling a bit down with all the rain and dull weather, when I spotted a flash of brown at the end of the garden and I was sure that it was a Weasel but could have been a big Vole.  A couple of days later and the same thing happened, but this time the small animal raced up the path towards the house and hid behind a flower tub, with the head popping out like a periscope to check the area out; yes, it was a Weasel!

The rustlings in the workshop and the wash-up [Hedgehog rehab facility] increased, and as the "Hedgehog Hilton" is renowned far and wide, [at least as far as Sanna] by the wildlife for providing five star cuisine, I started to put out food in the wash-up, and deployed my Trail-cam, to find out who was in the building when it was quiet.

The first customer was no other than "Rocky Robin" who had slipped in whilst the door was open and was now availing himself of the mince washed down with vintage "Chateau Achnaha". He was followed by numerous mice or one mouse numerous times! Then, a weasel bounced into view.

I have only sent the Diary one video clip which shows the weasel coming backwards and forwards, helping himself to food and water. Later that day, I was back in the wash-up collecting bird food, when the noisy rustling started from one of the corners of the room, quiety moving to that area I called out to Wilfred [silly innit, talking to a Weasel, some say that I've lost the plot!] and the small head popped out from behind a Jewsons bag and then disappeared. Quickly I nipped out to my Classic Capri and found an ex mouse in one of the traps and took it into Wilfred. Calling out again, he came right out, had a scratch and then gratefully took the Cordon Bleu offering. I was able to establish that this was indeed Wilfred, as the Weasel last year had a small nick in one of his ears, this one had the same nick, ergo, Wilfred was back! Judging by all the video clips I have of mice, he has a good food supply on tap in my workshop and the wash-up.

For some days, when going into my barn, I have had the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, you know that feeling as the hairs on the back of the neck seem to stand up and you look around behind and to both sides, but nothing is there! Finally, one evening about dusk I was looking for something with the torch when I had the same feeling of being watched. This time I used the torch and played the light around the barn until I spotted eye-shine at the top of the log pile. Totally unperturbed, a Pine Marten was watching me and didn't seem to be in any hurry to escape, of course by the time that I returned with a camera it had gone.

But the next morning I discovered the remains of its evening meal, a hen pheasant, or what was left of it on top of the wood. The Trail-cam was deployed again but the only image was of me setting up the camera so, as I'm not part of the wild life, I haven't sent that clip to the Diary!

Whilst I may not have any Hedgehogs in residence at the moment, the word has got out that the "Hedgehog Hilton" is still the place to go for top class meals; pheasant, mice on a plate and mince, all washed down with fresh water; and if needed five star accommodation. What else could discerning wildlife want?

Wilfred? This morning he was belting around the wash-up when I went in to collect the bird seed, obviously full of the joys of spring, or mice!

Many thanks to Tony for pictures & story.

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