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It's March and our nature reserve is teaming with wildlife

Vole willow coppice handpainted sign in nature reserve

I sometimes wish David Attenbough had a spare day or two to bring his Planet Earth team down to Naish Farm. We have beautiful wildlife and life’s struggles to capture. I’d do it of course but my job description doesn’t cover sitting in a hide all day unfortunately.  I will just have to do my best to describe the doings of our wild residents.

The vole willow coppice here in our nature reserve proves to be a brilliant habitat as we have spotted loads of bank voles. This week I watched a daring escape. From the bakery window I saw the Honeybuns cat  Tab-Tabs in the yard with something trapped in his paws. His tail was thrashing languidly with malice. In the manner of felines everywhere he let his prize go to toy with it at leisure. I could see a small vole frozen to the spot. Was it dead? No – this rodent had nerves of steel. Tab-Tabs Attention wavered and our vole Steve McQueen made his escape, darting with athletic speed for the safety of the hedge. The cat gave chase and nearly had little Steve in his clutches but the plucky vole sprang from the claws into the undergrowth. Queue a frowning cat face. Vole 1, Tab-Tabs Nil.

I was delighted to spot a pair of Bullfinches as I arrived at work this morning. They are beautiful little birds. The male has a stout frame and a rosy bib. His head is covered with a jet black cap.  He is quite the chap; I’d like to imagine him wearing a miniature bowler hat with a tiny umbrella tucked under his glossy wing. It would be unkind to describe the female Bullfinch as drab or dowdy. I would call her a subtle and understated lady. She is olive and peachy brown like a Russet apple. She has the same black cap as the male; together they make a handsome pair.

Bullfinches are a rare sight as they are shy and retiring birds. In the early 20th Century you could see flocks of the little finches. Their taste for the buds of fruit trees led to the bird’s persecution. Habitat degradation and intensive farming reduced their numbers to all time low in the 1970s. I’m sure our pair of Bullfinches will be hungrily eyeing our apple orchard but we believe in live and let live at Honeybuns.

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