Every morning I pull back the bathroom curtains to see what the weather’s like before heading out on my morning run. Every morning the view over the vegetable garden is exactly the same (give or take a few beehives) until last Saturday morning. Two fallow bucks were calmly munching their way through some young apple trees! OH and I dashed downstairs to try and get them out without wrecking the place. Luckily it was only five am, so the neighbours didn’t see us hopping about in the cold, wet grass in our night kit trying to improve the fencing. The next morning the deer got in again somewhere else, and started to eat the lower branches of an old mulberry tree. They must have been driven out to the edge of the forest by logging, so until we can get some deer-proof fencing our poor garden is under threat. The deer seem to do a circuit of the village, following the same route each night before retiring back into the trees so I’ve managed to outwit them the last few mornings. I get up earlier than their ETA at our boundary and re-route my morning run to go between their route and our boundary. They then bypass our garden and head straight into the wood but it won’t be long before they realise I’m just a paper tiger. Then our poor fruit and vegetables will be under threat again.
It’s lovely to see such graceful creatures, despite their huge appetites. It set me thinking about the other unusual things we’ve seen here at Tottering Towers over the years. A lost racing pigeon took up residence for a few days after the great gale a few years ago. A golden oriole once spent a day in the oak trees behind the house, chortling away in the hope of a mate. We often get a goshawk passing through, as they nest only a couple of miles away. Last year I spent ages in a hide at Slimbridge hoping to see a newly arrived bittern, only to surprise one while on a walk a few days later. To add insult to injury, at dusk that same night it flew very low over our house, on its way into Wales. A few weeks ago, a red kite floated over which was a really special moment for me. When I was a member of the old Young Ornithologists’ Club, there were only about six kites in the whole British Isles. Now the reintroduction scheme seems to be taking on a life of its own, and in some places like the Chiltern hills they’re almost common!
There’s only one exotic feathered visitor I really wouldn’t welcome here, and that’s a bee eater. They’re really beautiful, but with the recent bad weather and the chance of getting their homes knocked about by visiting deer, my poor bees are in enough trouble already! What’s the most unusual thing you’ve seen in your neighbourhood?