Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It's a jungle out there

I saw three deer this morning on the way to work. One strode elegantly across the road and hopped through a gap in the hedge; further on, two stood stock still in a field, heads raised, watching my car.

The 10-mile drive to the A1 is fraught at this time of year as my foot hovers constantly over the brake pedal. The road may be quiet as sensible people slumber in bed, but the verges and hedgerows are teeming with life: baby rabbits basking in the early sunshine, hares lolloping in the field, squabbling yellowhammers and chaffinches getting much too close to my windscreen as they show off their aerial acrobatics. Fat blue-grey wood pigeons whirr away at the last moment; likewise, the doves, their cousins. The pheasants, less lust-driven than in early spring, nonetheless remain a liability near the road. Partridges, in my experience, are much more circumspect.

On to the A1, and the wildlife changes. This time, the creatures are harder, more streetwise: I suppose they have to be to survive. This is the country of crows and magpies. Occasionally, Charlie slinks across the carriageway. A couple of times last year, I saw the undulating tails of red squirrels as they scampered to the safety of the other side. Kestrels hover above mice. At night, traffic-hardened rabbits, like the Owsla of Efrafa, closely graze the verge.

In the winter, I used to see the creamy apparition of a barn owl in the same spot most mornings as he returned home from a night’s hunting. It was winter too, when I saw the not-fox illuminated in my headlights.


We should bring David Attenborough up here. He’d love it.

21 comments:

Gill said...

I saw a red squirrel yesterday morning as I was driving along-and why ARE pheasants suicidal?

Mopsa said...

Mind the Bambi - you'll weep for years if you knock him down. On the other hand, if it's a biggy, the freezer loves a hunk of venison.

Karen said...

I have nearly run over a deer twice - it was very scary. I also hate it when it is frog/toad mating time and they absolutely cover the road. There is no choice but to drive over them and you can hear them popping. Horrible and sad.

I once hit a massive dragonfly. It made such a thud when it hit my windscreen I thought I'd hit a bird. It got caught in my windscreen wipers and stayed there til I got home. "It must be dead" I thought. But no I merely stunned it and it lived to tell the tale. I got some photos of it to as I had never seen a dragonfly so big. It was a gorgeous bright green colour too.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

I'm missing this, living in London. We get wood pigeons coo-ing away and the odd fox and usual garden birds of course. when I read things like this it makes me want to sell up and move further into our Green and Pleasant Land.

ziggi said...

It's a lovely time of year isn't it? but if it's anything like here the roadkill (especially this year so far) is horrendous - I've seen more dead badgers this spring than all my years before. It's the 1/2 dead ones that upset me the most - I'm tempted to carry a gun!

I have never seen a red squirrel even though I have spent a considerable time on Brownsea Island. I would dearly love to get a glimpse but I don't think there are any round here.

Marianne said...

The roads are like Watership Down around here at this time of year. Heartbreaking.

@themill said...

Red squirrel on the window sill watching me dry my hair on Sunday. Very sweet. The whole family live in the garden and had 6 babies last year. Magical. Just have to make sure the border terrorists don't get them.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Gill, I think pheasants simply have pea-sized brains. They're especially bad when it's the mating season - they are driven by lust!

Mopsa, I would end up in therapy if that happened...

Karen, popping toads is rather upsetting! It's amazing justhow big dragonflies are up close.

NMO, come to the country - it's great!

Ziggi, I have seen two dead deer in the last couple of weeks. About a month or so ago, there were a fair few dead badgers.

Marianne, the bunnies are doign what bunnie do - there are tons of babies this year.

@themill, that sounds fantastic. I saw one not to far from me last summer but I've never seen it there again.

beta mum said...

I once hit a deer on the way to Achiltibuie in the highlands of Scotland. It leapt out into the meagre beam from my VW Beetle's headlights, and I couldn't stop in time.
The deer wasn't killed, and limped off into the woods.
As we didn't have a rifle with us (being townies from London) we couldn't follow it and finish it off if neccesary, so we drove on into the night and hoped it was OK.
My beige coloured Beetle's mashed wing was fixed up with a pale blue replacement.
It remained on the car until I sold it for £50 a few years later.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Here's a little advice re. driving - KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD! All this wildlife spotting means that other road users are at risk and I don't just mean the hedgehogs!

mutterings and meanderings said...

beta mum, a deer leapt out on to a friend's car and caused some pretty bad damage. It was during foot and mouth, so although they called someone out to see if the deer could be saved, they put it down. The sad thing was that had it been 'normal' times, the deer could've been saved.

YP,as women, we are used to juggling tasks and are perfectly capable of looking at wildlife and driving simultaneously!

Winchester whisperer said...

seen any wolves yet?

mountainear said...

The most dangerous and startling things on the road round here are young people between the ages of 17 and 70. But because not many of them are left on the side of the road as a warning to others we don't see them as a threat - only as a horrible suprise when going round a blind bend. Hmmm - that's going round the bend figuratively as well as literally probably.

Brom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brom said...

I saw two badgers the other day who will never make it home also several pheasants suffering the same roadside fate. On the good side there has been a lot of owl activity around here, it's been quite a hoot.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I sometimes see owls, it's always a magical moment. We saw one in our garden during the day a couple of months ago...is that normal Oh wise M&M?

mutterings and meanderings said...

WW, the only wolves are in hseep's clothing ...

Mountainear, have you squashed any yet?

Brom, due to the time I go in, I only see owls in the winter...

Pig, I'm glad you think I'm wise ;)The answer to your question is ....I really don't know!

st said...

Your not fox.Where did you see it,because one of the lads, i work with swears he saw a puma cross the A19 two weeks ago near Holystone/palmersville.He's adament, it was cat like, sandy coloured and about the size of an alsation.

Boulmer Birder said...

Oh no we aren't doing the 'big cat' thing again, are we? How come they NEVER get run over, but hundreds of Badgers, Bambi's etc etc get pizza'd every week?

ST, I reckon your mate is suffering 12 hour shift tiredness!:-)...

mutterings and meanderings said...

ST, it was a long way from there! Near Swinhoe in Northumberland.

BB, now stop being jealous that other people have seen them and you haven't!!

st said...

No BB he had just risen from a good nights sleep, but he does enjoy the odd glass of wine though.
i asked him, if he new what deer looked like.
M&M it must have moved south, to avoid the bank holiday caravans, whatever it is.