Winter guests

Over the winter we take as much care as we can of the local wildlife.  We have discovered that that we can feed most birds that come to our table by scattering birdfood (grain and grated-up fatballs) along the path to our house, so we dispense with the bird feeders for this time of year as they aren’t really used, and the food there just goes mouldy.Birdfood on path in cold snowy conditionsThis brings a number of birds to our table.  Crows, pigeons, sparrows, blackbirds, robins and wrens all feed there – we do not discriminate.  All birds need food on cold hard days, and all birds are part of our local community.birds eating on pathWe even have a friendly – and very timid – seagull, and I am happy to feed this seagull (a young bird, I think) so long as he doesn’t bring all his friends along too.  Indeed, I rather admire his ingenuity in finding us, and keeping us to himself!Seagull on pathWhen we first arrived here, Poe was good enough to extend our winter hospitality to other small folk.  She would be out in all weather, looking for little lost souls.Poe venturing out in snowShe was sure they would prefer the nice warm inside to the snowy cold outside. Poe returning with mouseTrouble was, she would then expect them to play for a little while …Poe has a mouse… before she lost them, and they ran off to make new homes inside.  A year later, we discovered the small carcase of just such a forgotten mouse, trapped behind the grandfather clock.  Such a considerate mouse – never smelt in its decay.  Now it has a place of honour on our nature window display.desiccated mouse and other treasuresLuckily, Poe is now too old to go out a-mousing, but we have discovered with our shed spring cleaning that we are still caring for the local wild mouse population.  I keep my spinning fleece in the garden shed, as well as our supplies of bird feed.  The fleece is high up on shelves.fleece on high in shedOne year, I brought a particularly special bag of Crookabeck alpaca out of the shed into the kitchen for dyeing, and I discovered that somebody had not only been making a home in my beautiful fleece, but they’d been helping themselves to the food supplies available in the shed.  A cosy way to spend the winter, don’t you think, with food and comfy bedding both on hand?!Evidence of mice making themselves at homeWe always know what the mice are up to in the shed, because they leave little guilty teethmarks all over the bird food.mice eating bird fat ballsAnother year, I caught the little blighters in action.  Mice in grainTime for some shed spring cleaning soon – I wonder what we will find in there this year?

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kaydeerouge

Lost - and found.

21 thoughts on “Winter guests”

  1. Had to laugh about you feeding a seagull. We feed one too. He now arrives when we whistle, for his treat of two crab sticks!

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    1. My goodness – that’s over the board generous! If I did that with our seagull, I think we’d have the entire North Sea fleet of seagulls in our garden in two shakes of a lamb’s tail!

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    1. Yes – a canny bird. What amazes me most about this bird is how nervous it is – blackbirds, sparrows will continue to feed when we appear, but the seagull disappears at the slightest human approach. Better that, of course, than like those pestering over-confident seagulls in seaside towns.

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  2. Oh yuk! I am far too squeamish to cope with mice. Some cat gifted us one on the front lawn, fraud he went in the dustbin! We have a one legged pigeon in the garden , I can’t imagine how he roosts at night.

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    1. I do like a mice – at a distance. We do put traps for any mice that appear in our kitchen, and there was one rare – and very embarrassing – time when I brought a bag of fleece into the house to show visitors, a mouse appeared, and I screamed and screamed! Had there been a chair nearby, I would have been up on that – just like in the cartoon pics! And all for a tiny little mouse 😦

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  3. We have mice too, and also packrats. I am always amazed at how they can get high up on shelves and how much work they will go to, to carry food from one spot to another. I feel bad removing their nests, but there are plenty of nice areas for them to move into, outside!

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    1. I’ve never heard of packrats – had to check them out, interesting little animals. But yes, mice are OK in the sheds and wild, but preferably not in the house (thank you, Poe). Somebody reminded me on Instagram that 2 mice swell to 200 in no time at all, and that’s a salutary reminder.

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  4. I hope your lovely fleece was still usable! I’ve always had a fondness for mice. I spent hours and hours trying to tame (or capture?) one in the garden shed at Sunningdale. I called him Dusty and had a very intense relationship with him as I did with all wildlife as a child. More recently I’ve had a little visitor here who has appeared when I’m quietly watching TV in the evening. Not bothered by him at all – come to think of it, haven’t seen him for a while. Good luck with the spring cleaning!

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    1. Fleece was fine, thank you, Polly! Your little Dusty sounds a nice friend for a small child, but I’m a bit worried about your current visitor – hope it doesn’t visit your kitchen, Polly?!

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  5. What a shame about your fleece.. can it be rescued by washing? Those little mice have very good taste… and now can relax with Poe feeling a little more elderly than before. Over Here our little house in the bush was left for six weeks whilst we went to the Uk for a holiday. We returned to little nests everywhere and the perfume of mouse pee. They chewed through the sheets on our bed and in the pantry enjoyed a cosy tissue box bed. They ate the sugar, the cardboard, candles, newspapers – you name it. So, now I have to put baits in the roof on a monthly basis and monitor them….that deals with the rats too who were having parties up there. Humane mouse traps just could not cope.

    So nice to read your post as I have at last found your blog.

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    1. Oh my goodness, your mice! What a story, what a lot of damage – and what a terrible return from your UK holiday! I’d definitely be very hardline with mice now were I you 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post, Lydia, and I can reassure you my nice Crookabeck alpaca was fine after a wash.

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  6. Oh, that reminded me of our cat! She used to bring mice in all the time, play with them and lose them! I remember we were always trying to get her out of the house where she could enjoy her meal and not bury a poor mouse under our bed 🙂

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  7. ‘Meeses’, yes they always come in small herds. However I still like them. I do have a cat but wonder what will happen when she ‘goes to God’ as I have a dog that wants to kill her, really, and she is well aware/trained. Not sure I could get another cat until my killer dog is gone (hunting dog and if it moves it is Prey and she wants IT) grrrrrrrr No mice in the house but occasionally Annie, cat, has brought in birds, squirrels, rabbits !! and mice. Takes them upstairs in my studio….her lair. I’m always playing, OK, who is in, who is out, who wants to come in/go out!! I live to serve…………..haha Nice bird pictures.

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    1. Love these mice stories – it’s like the post on trains – touches some deep inner chord! What puzzles me, Susan, is why your hunter dog doesn’t go for mice – are they too small to be worthy of attention?!

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      1. I’m not sure if she has even seen any, at least in the house! Maybe Annie scent keeps them away. I do know she hears them under the snow and digs like crazy. One of my Wolfhounds was a mouser. How odd is that? I cannot stand to see anything being killed so have a little difficulty with some of their instincts………

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  8. You are nicer than me… I abhore mice, I guess partly because they are introduced animals here which makes them hard to accept. My kids get hysterical if I trap them so I must wage war stealthily, checking traps quietly, hiding the bodies…!

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    1. It’s endlessly fascinating to me how the most ordinary wildlife to us in the UK is termed invasive by you Aussie folks – we do the same, of course – with New Zealand pirri-pirri, Japanese knotweed etc. I don’t blame you at all for the tactics you take to conceal your murderous intentions from your children – I was the same with other species. What’s really interesting in the replies to this post is that we are most of us torn between thinking mice little soft sweeties and the recognition that they are dirty vermin.

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  9. How nice of you to help your local wildlife in Winter! All creatures deserve a bit of warmth and food (even mice that think fleece is a nice place to nest, I suppose).

    My nan has a pet seagull. It was placed in her garden by someone, probably to prevent it from being run over a car (it was still a wee thing). My nan started feeding the bird, and after it learnt to fly on its own, it loves to wake her up in the morning by tapping its beak on her window and asking for food. It will also come when my nan calls! The best memory I have of this seagull was when it caught a cat eating its rice – that beak went straight for the cat’s tail! Poor kitty…

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