Some interesting visitors

We have had some surprising visitors this week – darting about in the undergrowth and occasionally rushing across a path. They are little voles, and our garden seems to be overrun with these creatures, but you must be eagle eyed to see them. They do not hang about. We seem to have a population boom; they can have up to six litters a year, about forty young in a year. I am sure we have that many in our garden. But it won’t last long.

Another visitor becoming more frequent is the kestrel and he is certainly ‘eagle-eyed’. I have seen him on our chimney pot and in our ash tree. He is looking out for a meal of a little vole or two, as they run in search of seeds to eat. Another favourite look-out point for the kestrels is the electricity wire going over Oak Meadow. You can easily tell them by their hunched position and their absolute stillness and concentration. Sometimes I see one hovering in the air spying down on the long grass below.

Suddenly, he will dive like an arrow when he has caught sight of his unsuspecting prey. He can see a tiny vole from high up on his perch and eats at least five voles a day to keep starvation away. So much depends on a creature’s position in the ‘pecking order’. The little vole is low down so that the population here will soon be reduced.

Some other visitors here have been sent by the electricity company. Our trees have had to be reduced in size. Their branches must be at least one metre away from a cable. The ash tree is about 100 years old, and the kestrel sits here, but the branches cannot be spared, they have grown dangerously near to the wires and in high winds could cause damage. The willow trees, on the perimeter of the field called Goose Bottom, had to have about four metres cut off as they are so quick growing. It is costly for the electricity company to send people back, so they took the trees down low. They are very much smaller now but will soon grow next year.

Have you noticed that some chocolate bars are smaller? Last time I tried to order my favourite bar online, this item was ‘no longer available’. But when I went on ‘see rest of shelf’ I saw that the packaging had changed slightly, and weight was less. When the bars arrived each one was decidedly thinner. There is nothing I can do about it, there is someone higher than me making the decisions. I know now how the little vole feels.

 (Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star) 


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