This must be the week-end for letting out all the newly-bred pheasant poults because our lane is covered in groups of young pheasant today. On our way out to lunch (four of us to a local hostelry while the farmer went off on the fortnightly walk) we stopped to see about a dozen wandering aimlessly along the lane - they didn't realise that twenty yards further down the lane a stoat was hiding in the grass and just waiting to pick one off after we had passed. When he saw us he panicked and turned round three or four times before dashing off into the undergrowth. But I have no doubt he would be back - easy pickings at this stage sadly. By the time we returned three hours later (yes, it was a long lunch) there were three or four of them dead on the road and crows were having a bean-feast on their remains.
And, speaking of birds, I really didn't realise until yesterday just how lucky we are to have so many birds in our garden. A friend who lives in Southend called in for coffee and although he is not a bird enthusiast he was fascinated by the variety here at our bird feeders. The RSPB now recommend that you don't feed in summer but we have always done so and as we get such pleasure from them we have continued. We do find they each like a different food:
sunflower hearts: hedge, house and tree sparrows.
blue, coal and great tits.
greater spotted woodpeckers if there are no peanuts.
peanuts: greater spotted woodpeckers.
all the sparrows as a last resort and ditto tits.
mixed seed anything will eat this and it does seem to go first.
fat balls: long-tailed tits and sparrows.
niger seed: gold finches.
There are some ground-feeding birds who never go on the feeders, but every time a bird roots out a seed at lease a dozen fall to the ground so there is usually enough there to go round. The farmer also scatters poultry wheat for the pheasants every morning.
The ground-feeders include: collared doves, stock doves, wood pigeons, jackdaws, magpies (these two are strongly discouraged),
robins (who also adore meal worms which they only get in winter),
yellow hammers, blackbirds and the occasional thrush, chaffinches in abundance and the occasional blackcap. A wonderful variety I think you will agree.
I am totally satiated with too much lunch (crab and lobster fish cakes with salad - absolutely delicious and light as a feather), braised beef in the chinese style with rice, and mango and coconut pannacotta. The whole lunch finished off with coffee and home made chocolates. Nothing more for me today thank-you.