Encounters with local wildlife

Bush-cricket at Wichenford Oak

Bush-cricket at Wichenford Oak

It’s 4am. Something is chirping in my bedroom. Sleep can wait, this could be a photographic opportunity. I scour the room for the culprit. I’m about to give up – then I spy it, clinging to the side of my wash-bag. It’s a bush-cricket. Time for a few snaps then let it out of the window. I’m particularly pleased to see it because they’re chirping away every evening in the garden, and I’ve not managed to see one.

Slow worm (male) in Monkwood.

Smiling for the camera: a male slow worm in Monkwood.

Painted lady at Wichenford Oak

Painted lady at Wichenford Oak

A few days ago I had another encounter while walking in Monkwood. It was a bit late for the birdlife, which all seemed to have gone to roost, so I wasn’t particularly looking out for anything. Thus I almost stumbled on this slow-worm before I spotted it. What struck me about it was the burnished bronze appearance – the sign of a healthy adult male.

Comma at Wichenford Oak

Comma at Wichenford Oak

Earlier this year, many people seemed worried about the non-appearance of the butterflies. Judging by their abundance on the buddleia shrubs in my garden, they were just late. There are lots of the usual peacocks and small tortoiseshells, and all too many cabbage whites that think the sprouts and broccoli were planted just for them (triggering an ongoing war between me and their caterpillars). However, there were also a few painted ladies and commas.

I was keen to snap a peacock and small tortoiseshell on the same flower: one tantalising afternoon they would land together and then flit off just as I had the camera ready. A few days later, two alighted on the flower directly in front of me – and stayed put for long enough!

Small trrtoiseshell and peacock at Wichenford Oak

Small tortoiseshell and peacock at Wichenford Oak

When I returned from New Wine, Craig (my lodger) pointed out that a hedgehog had arrived – and had somehow fallen into a hole by the front door. It had been there a couple of days and was looking sorry for itself. I constructed an elaborate ladder structure for it to climb out but was not sure how much strength it had left, so I put some food and water down for it as well. Throughout the operation it eyed me with weary suspicion. Five minutes later I returned with my camera – it had already legged it!

The hedgehog trapped in the hole by the front door - and the ladder structure by which it escaped

The hedgehog trapped in the hole by the front door – and the ladder structure by which it escaped

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