Devastating Doris

We went down the garden just before lunch today, to find a much loved old ‘Tree Magnolia’ horizontal, a victim of yesterday’s ‘Storm Doris’.

This larger growing form of the ‘Willow Leaved Magnolia, Magnolia salicifolia var.  arborea, was planted over forty years ago and was purchased from The Seville Garden.  It had reached approximately thirty five feet in height and was carrying hundreds of flower buds.

Although there were no outward signs of ill health, the root-ball was not as good as the top of the tree would have indicated. It fell into a neighbour’s garden and flattened a 6ft high chain link fence breaking two of its straining wires and bending a post. Fortunately there was a only a small amount of collateral damage in our garden in the form of half of a four foot high Japanese Maple being smashed off. If the wind had been Northerly it could have fallen on our Mandarin Arbour, but wouldn’t have reached our new bridge.

With our son Paul and another neighbour, Dave’s help, Linda and I managed to clear next door’s garden, shred the smaller branches and cut up the trunk into splitable lengths.

The storm also blew a bird feeder out of a shrub just outside our kitchen window, spilling the seed on the path. A field mouse is pictured below, taking advantage of the sudden windfall, in broad daylight (2.00pm).

Mystery Solved

Since we bought our new garden five and a half years ago there have been constant attempts by either a fox or badger to burrow into a neighbours garden in a bank along the boundary.

After many attemts to fill in the holes we gave in and for a year or more there are just two holes and no further soil has been excavated after the first few barrow loads.

Last week Maplins sent an E-mail offering an ‘Outback Cam’ which takes images in the dark using infra-red when it senses movement. We bought one for a bit of fun, and set it up in front of the holes. We now know who was responsible!

More Wildlife

A little while ago we came across an unfortunate Tawny Owl which had got itself entangled in the single strand of fishing line, strung around the waterlily pond to try and deter the heron from taking our frogs or Golden Rudd.

I cut the line and removed it from the bird’s wing, but it was clearly stressed and exhausted from its struggles, but otherwise unhurt. It couldn’t or wouldn’t fly when released but fluttered under our arbour seat. Worried that it might be spotted by a neighbour’s cat or a fox, we picked it up again and put it up a tree. It stayed there several hours but eventually disappeared. Not finding any feathers in the vicinity we are optimistic it must have eventually summoned up the strength to fly home.

Earlier this week much to my amazement I saw a Muntjac Deer in one of our neighbour’s gardens. It ran off when it saw me. I have been panicking that it may take up residence in the area and many precious plants may be browsed. I haven’t seen it again,
so hopefully it has returned to Hartswood, which is only a few hundred yards away as the crow flies.

Feeding the Wildlife

Sadly, yesterday one of our large Koi Carp died, a Chagoi around 10lbs in weight, I guess. We used to bury dead koi in the garden, but there were usually dug up again by the wildlife,

so lately we’ve left them out for the foxes.

Last night while slugging I went to see if the fish was still where I left it. It had been moved a yard or so but was being devoured by a badger. The badger didn’t run off as the meal was too heavy to pick up and make a rapid exit, so he kept eating, ignoring me. I thought I’ll go back in doors and get my camera, to hopefully get a picture. It turned out that

even the repeated flash full in his face, wouldn’t put him off his, ‘as much as you can eat, fish supper’. I got closer and closer until in the end I was crouching no more than a yard in front of the feeding creature. I wanted him to look up and had to make quite loud noises for him to react to me, giving me the second picture..

The Ducks are Back

The pair of Mallard Ducks are back for what is at least their third year. They are clearly park ducks as the don’t scare off easily. They have been observed dabbling up the hatching tadpoles,

reaching under the windows we put over the spawn, to protect it from frosts and predators.

However on the plus side, after we’d shooed them off the waterlily pond they did go on the ‘natural’ (clay) ponds and started to do a good job eating the duckweed and algae.. Unfortunately next door’s dog went mental, when he saw a cat in our garden rushing at the wire fence and barking loudly, which managed to scare them off before they completed the task..

Welcome Wildlife

We don’t find slow worms as often as we used to, because a few years ago we had a cat

that would catch and kill them. However I found one in the compost bin this morning .It was a female who had lost her tail in the past and has started to grow a new one. Slow worms’ favourite food are the white slugs,which are so damaging to certain of our much loved plants.