Frustrating week on the farm as we are waiting for the right weather to make hay. This problem must have preoccupied farmers at this time of year for centuries. Now - although most grass goes to silage - it is nice to make a bit of sweet smelling hay as well. The grass grows long and goes to seed, the wild flowers die down and seed and the fields become a sea of reddish brown instead of the usual green.
Earlier this week we saw an unusual creature in the long grass. At first we thought it was a stoat but when it streaked across in front of us we saw that it was far too big. We narrowed it down to escaped male ferret, polecat or mink. Then a friend did a bit of research and told us that polecats are not in this area - so either big ferret or mink then. Either way we don't really want it roaming here when we have baby curlew, pheasant, partridge, lapwing for sure and probably snipe, oyster catcher as well. All ground-nesting and chicks at a very vulnerable stage. We borrowed a humane Larsen trap from the local gamekeeper and baited it with a very dead (road casualty) pheasant - but no luck. Later in the week I passed a very dead black creature flattened on the road - but too mutilated to tell whether it was someone's beloved cat or the poor creature we had seen.
Next week is the last full week to walk our tetrad checking on birds for the BTO Bird Atlas. On our last check we saw yellow hammers, curlews, lapwings, oyster catchers, little owls, merlin, buzzard - and all the others we expected to see. What an enjoyable pastime! We have a family of greater spotted woodpeckers in the garden - young still trying to perfect the technique of landing gracefully on the peanut feeder.