Nature is full of surprises

You never quite know what you are going to see when you put out supplementary food for birds. On Baronsdown we always get a wide selection of wild bird species, from Carrion Crows to Siskins and Nuthatch to Greater-spotted Woodpeckers. Rabbits and pheasants take advantage of the seed that has fallen to the floor, as do Bank Voles and Wood Mice. I looked out of the window the other day to see a Brown Rat chasing a Grey Squirrel round and round the feeders, or it could have been the squirrel chasing the rat, it was hard to tell. Then, I was surprised to see one of the rabbits start chasing the rat. However, all this was surpassed a couple of years ago, when a Wild Boar turned up under the feeders. Nothing was going to take him on, but his stay was all too brief.

As part of the educational role of the League’s wildlife sanctuaries, we carry out surveys of some of the species found here and feed that information into national schemes that look at how wildlife in the UK is fairing. Checking nesting boxes can be a rollercoaster ride for your emotions. This year in Barlynch Wood Pied Flycatchers have done fairly well, but three days of wet weather resulted in a number of broods of Blue Tits succumbing because the parents were unable to find sufficient food. Hazel Dormice on the wildlife sanctuaries have again bucked the national trend and they seem to be doing well, but wildlife always walks a tightrope between life and death.

Deer hunters gathering outside a pub in Taunton

We do our best to protect the animals on the League’s wildlife sanctuaries from persecution by humans. Therefore, when we received a tip-off that a local Roe Deer hunt was having a breakfast meet at a pub adjacent to fields where we own the sporting rights and just a couple of fields away from one of our sanctuaries we had to be present. The hunt officials clearly weren’t pleased to see us as we pulled up outside the pub and the anger of the hunt supporters as they banged on the vehicle windows and shouted was quite alarming. You couldn’t help but think the hunt had something to hide.

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