So, the big day (D-Day) finally arrived: Friday the 5th. March, when we moved from Mellowstone House (Gretton, Glos.) to Homelands (Woodmancote, Cheltenham, Glos.)
After sounding out family and friends it is clear which direction this Blog should take: We'll focus on all matters relating to wildlife and the environment in and around the property.
Our oldest son (and almost Graduate Zoologist) has already put up birdhouses in the mini-woodland at the back of the garden, and he has planted some willows in a wet and swampy area, to help dry out the ground. Willows, of course, like damp and soggy conditions and will thrive in that environment.
They also supply an endless amount of coppiced wood which can be used for fencing, basket making or heating.
One particular large willow needs some urgent TLC (Tender Loving Care) and will be sorted out (coppiced) towards the end of 2010., as it looks as if it hasn’t been done for some 8-9 years. Every 5 years is the norm.
When our budding Zoologist is next at home he will put up some bat-boxes and an owl-box as well.
Within days after moving in we learned the following species have established themselves in our and our neighbours’ gardens: A family of 3 Muntjac deer (More about this in a later Blogpost); a family of 5 female and 1 male pheasants; lots and lots of grey (American) squirrels; badgers, rabbits, and foxes.
Regular visitors are a grey heron (Anything to do with our goldfish in the pond??), woodpigeons, collared doves, magpies, crows, and many other small songbirds such as tits and robins.
The interesting thing is that Muntjac deer and grey squirrels are a bit of a mixed blessing- they are both considered to be ‘invasive’ species and ‘pests’ as they don’t really belong in England. Farmers would also consider woodpigeons, rabbits and foxes as pests as they can cause serious economic damage. Of course there is no question of ‘economic damage to crops or live-stock’ in a residential garden setting so to us they aren’t pests. Unless, of course, the foxes and badgers take a liking to our future rescue chickens and their eggs…
But badgers are protected, despite strong evidence they are responsible for spreading Bovine TB, costing our farmers millions each year in lost stock.
So, even when just considering the wildlife in a garden, things are complicated!