As nights that barely see complete darkness, very slowly begin to take on an earlier hue of dusky grey and July edges further away from the joy that is mid-summer, it is interesting to notice the behaviour of animals visiting the hide. In many ways you might expect that their routines remain the same, that they would be expected at around the same time each evening and appear in similar groupings. However, this week this has not been the case at all, reminding us that wildlife is just that – wild, with a life of it’s own.
Often it is the Wood Mice, with their giant satellite dish ears, who appear first at the Evening Mammal Watch, tempted by a tasty snack of a peanut (or five). However, this week we have had the pleasure of seeing a number of Field Voles popping up from among the long grass and thistles, one even sneaking it’s way into the hide to check out the viewing facilities! The Field Vole is sometimes seen as the ‘scruffy’ variety of vole – scraggy fur at the lower end of the back and around the ears and with a much shorter tail than it’s relation the Bank Vole. It’s eyes are less prominent than those of the Wood Mouse and it has no real distinguishing features – perfect you might say for a life of crime, including breaking and entering…
In recent days Pine Marten visits have tended to be later in the evening – but of course never something we can predict because as soon as we do, they will appear at the table at 21.05 with customary speed and agility. But, prior to their visits this week we have enjoyed surprise visits from two very different species of deer. A beautiful Roe Deer has been feeding in the lush pasture behind the hide, providing us with an opportunity to watch her with her two fawns, who often play together in the long grass, testing the skills of visitors with binoculars and those without! Tiny and spotted, the fawns are visible by their outsized ears, peeping over the tops of the grasses and sedges.
Later in the week guests were surprised to see two female Red Deer, also with their calves, grazing at the back of the hide. Relaxed and unhurried they slowly made their way nearer and nearer, feeding as they went, providing us with great views of them in their natural habitat just doing what Red Deer do. A Brown Hare, meanwhile, ambled down the track at the other side of the hide, oblivious to the excitement caused by the Red Deer….
Badgers have, of course, featured heavily on our visitor list this week, with two different Badgers having a go at tree climbing, much to the delight of younger (and slightly older!) guests. One Badger did manage to perform a trapeze act along a long raised branch at the front of the hide, literally drawing gasps from us, the delighted audience, as he tiptoed precariously toward the peanuts at the far end of it.
If you would like to join us for an evening of wildlife watching you can book here.