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Julie's Nature Column - Winter 2017

Dec 05, 2017

Autumn has been reasonably mild this year so far that it made me wonder whether the deer would delay their rut. It is said that once the first frost arrives it triggers the rut, but we hadn't had much in the way of frost in October. Turns out that our herd of deer don't wait for the frost, rut season is rut season! The big males separate during the day and find somewhere to rest up and recover their loss of energy. I had to move one or two on to another area as they were slightly hidden whilst resting and could startle someone nearby. I have to say that they looked ever so tired slowly plodding along.

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The buzzard has been seen many times this year, often flying low through the trees or on the ground taking off after being spotted. I have a feeling that they have nested on site, but have yet to discover where. It is also quite possible that a pair of Hobby's nested on site or very nearby. Once the chick has fledged the calling is constant to the parents and this is what alerted us to their whereabouts. What a lovely sight to see. The Hobby arrives in April and usually leaves in September. They eat insects and other birds and are so agile that they can catch them on the wing.

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In my last report I mentioned that we had three Barn owl chicks nesting in our owl box and we had them ringed by an expert. They were different sizes due to hatching several days apart. The hope is always that the smallest one survives with it's siblings being much bigger. Well I am pleased to say that all three chicks fledged successfully. They can spend up to a month being dependent on the parents for food after fledging. I witnessed them sitting on the box constantly calling the parents for food, what a noisy bunch they were.

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I have mentioned before how all sorts of animals come together and don't mind sharing the same space. You could be forgiven for thinking that a fox would try to catch anything that moves to satisfy it's hunger, but this is not always the case, they know not what to tackle. To see them side by side with another animal may seem quite unusual, but the Mills is such a special place that I'm sure the wildlife knows it too and offer us some lovely findings. Here's hoping for some more during the winter months.

Julie Matthews
Mills nature conservationist




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