Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians

It’s remarkable how so many of the animals inhabiting this place go unseen, even though we’re often moving around slowly and quietly (well, if the kids aren’t with us). Weasels appear every year or two – peering out of a log pile, or squeaking from the raspberry bed. Several species of bat, including noctules and greater horseshoes, hunt insects over the fields at night, and both Natterer’s and lesser horseshoe bats are amongst those in residence in our buildings. Grass snakes are here, with a plentiful supply of frogs and smooth newts to feed on. Toads crawl into many of our rock piles and log stacks. Common lizards bask on logs or hang around the beehives, hopefully not taking too many bees. Foxes, sometimes with fearless cubs, put paid to our chickens and are now hopefully keeping the rabbit and rodent populations in check. Badgers have it good here too. But we also find signs of shyer or scarcer creatures that we’re yet to come face to face with – polecat footprints in the snow, otter spraints by the pond, a muntjac deer captured at night by our trail camera, fallow deer droppings, or water vole latrines and cut grass piles near our boundary stream. We may well have dormice thriving unnoticed in the hazel woods and scrubby field edges. For the time being though, such things elude us…..