Saturday, 4 June 2016

what the camera saw

I was not pleased to discover this morning that a tray of young sunflower plants I'd left on the concrete outside the greenhouse had been eaten to stumps overnight.  Rabbits.  I knew they'd been eating the plants in the sweep of gravel that runs round in front of the blue summerhouse next to the hedge, but that's close to cover.  I didn't expect them to emerge right out into the open and attack plants on the concrete.  Alas, if only I'd left the sunflowers in the greenhouse until planting them into the dahlia bed they'd have been OK, since the bed is backed by a wall and has netting along the front to keep the chickens out of it.

Later on I retrieved the wildlife camera from the gravel by the blue summerhouse, where it had ended up for several nights because I never got round to going and collecting it.  There were, as I expected, numerous shots of a rabbit, just the one but a biggie, hopping around.  Something has eaten the hollyhocks, taken all the flower stems off a campanula, reduced a small Ozothamnus to half its previous size, and kept some scabious grazed down to low cushions.  The photos showed the culprit out around midnight, and between quarter to six and half past in the morning.  Short of expecting the Systems Administrator to spend the night in the blue hut with a gun, which is not going to happen, there's no way of getting a shot at rabbits in that corner.  It is too far from the house to take aim from an upstairs window.

More disconcertingly, the camera showed a lot of fox activity, with a fully grown adult working back and forth across the space in front of the blue hut pretty much every night, around midnight and just after.  At least in one picture it appeared to have a rabbit clamped in its jaws, but it was altogether too much fox so close to the house, and the hen house.  Living in the country we expect the odd one to pass through, but not be criss crossing the front garden nightly.  Why there?  Where is it living?  And where is the rabbit coming from?

I was galvanised to finally mend the roof of the chicken run.  It has a wire netting top, since a fox could swarm up less than five feet of vertical netting and get in if it were open.  It also has a hawthorn bush growing in it, which seeded itself into the run after it was built and somehow avoided being scratched up by the chickens.  We've left it, since it creates some shade and cover which hens are supposed to like, being derived from jungle fowl.  However as the hawthorn has grown it has dislodged some of the netting roof.  I kept meaning to fill the hole with an extra bit of chicken wire, indeed, the job had been on my list of Things to Do for such a long time that it stood at number two.  Since the actual chance of a fox spotting a small hole in the roof seemed quite low I never quite got round to doing anything about it, but today I did.

The next job with the rabbit is to work out where it's coming from.  Does it, oh horror of horrors, represent another colony living inside the garden, or is it jumping in from the wood?  Raising the height of the netting along the side of the wood is another long standing and stalled project on my list of things to do, but perhaps I need to get on with it as a matter of urgency.

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