In my last post I mentioned that we were fans of Springwatch, which ended its annual run on Thursday, and last weekend felt a little like real life had taken over where the TV left off! Several weeks ago a pair of red-legged partridges made their home in the field next to our garden, appearing a couple of times a day to peck around the lawn, (and leave many an unwanted gift on the garden path). We got so used to seeing them we named them Terry and Jerry and would say hi to them as we passed by on our way to and from the car. We noticed they were gradually becoming tamer, especially when we started dishing out the odd bit of birdseed. They would follow us down the garden and eventually we even persuaded them to eat out of our hands.
They became so familiar we started to think of them as pets, especially as they would sometimes come in the house to look for us when they got impatient for birdseed!
On Saturday I was sitting out on the patio enjoying a quiet ten minutes when I heard a familiar sound suggesting either Jerry or Terry were nearby, so I got up to fetch a handful of birdseed, and sure enough out popped Jerry (the female) from behind the fence. Imagine my surprise and delight when she was followed by no less than EIGHT tiny babies!
At the risk of sounding twee I couldn’t quite get over how adorable these tiny, fluffy fledgelings were, making their first ever foray into the big wide world under mum’s watchful guidance. And doesn’t Jerry look proud! A little while later they took an afternoon stroll up the length of our garden path and I managed to make a video:
I’m looking forward to seeing the babies develop as I don’t suppose they’ll stay this small for long. I also don’t suppose all of them will make it through to adulthood. It pains me to think how vulnerable they are!
Talking of which, on Sunday we came across another fledgeling, one in desperate trouble. We were cycling back from the pub when James suddenly felt drawn to investigate a disused farm building. We’d been discussing activities in the local area during the war and he’d wondered if this building held any historical clues, but instead of a makeshift aerodrome what we found was an owl with it’s leg trapped under some debris.
This was a young Little Owl, and because its leg was damaged it was unable to take off and could only flail around on the ground. We therefore had little choice but to take this beautiful creature home and try and work out what to do.
Although obviously injured the owl, whom we christened Chequers (after our local pub where we’d just had a very nice Sunday lunch!), looked bright-eyed and not sick, so we were hopeful for his prognosis, but pessimistic about our chances of finding a wildlife refuge open on Sunday evening. However, the wonderful people at Wildlives in Thorrington agreed to take him in, even though they were technically closed for admissions. This is an absolutely wonderful organisation, entirely funded on donations but dedicated to rescuing every specimen of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife that comes their way. On arrival Katie was transfixed by a tank full of baby hedgehogs, and they had several tawny owls and other baby birds. However, Chequers was the first Little Owl they’d had this year.
I called Wildlives this afternoon and I’m delighted to say that Chequers is doing much better; he’s fine in himself and his leg seems to be on the mend. When finding an injured animal it’s such a comfort to have organisations to turn to who know what to do. Wildlives is run from owner Rosie’s house, often at personal expense, and is staffed by volunteers. I would urge everyone who loves wildlife to check out the their site here, and if you’re in a position to make a donation they would be heartily grateful.