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  • Nearly time for the pheasant eggs to hatch

    Miranda Hodgson on 22 May 2010 at 10:29 AM

    The pheasant at the vegetable garden is now completely hidden by nettles which have grown up around her nest. Every so often I’ll have a quick peek to make sure she’s still on the nest, but the dappled colouring of her feathers is barely visible under the surrounding foliage and it’s only because I know what to look for that I can make out the dark spots of her plumage.

    Sometimes she gets up for a walk and we see her head poking out from behind the compost bays before she makes a dash for the cover of an apple tree, and from there to the raspberries, before stealthily working her way over to the pond. After she’s had a drink and something to eat, we might spot her in the long grass of a wild part of the garden as she makes her way back to the nest.

    Surely the day is approaching when the eggs will hatch. We first spotted the eggs on the 23rd of April, when we counted nine. A few days later there were 13 of them and as the incubation period is between 23 and 27 days we should soon start to hear the young birds. I’m looking forward to it because I’ve never seen a newly hatched pheasant before and my friend John Davison tells me that they look rather like big bumblebees. Thirteen big bumblebees in a nest sounds like a fine sight.

    In the meantime, I was working in a garden the other day and came across another quite different type of egg. Scrabbling at the base of an Iris foetidissima, I found a metallic green egg left over from an Easter egg hunt, back at the start of April. It suddenly occurred to me that I’d never been on an Easter egg hunt before, so finding this foil-wrapped treasure was a first. 


  • We have newts!

    Miranda Hodgson on 14 May 2010 at 02:31 PM

    Yesterday we got up to the vegetable garden for a couple of hours, intending to move the big pile of compost that had been shovelled onto a big sheet of plastic when we emptied the compost bay. As we find so many creatures in that garden, before moving the plastic, we pulled it back to see what was underneath. I expected worms, woodlice, slugs, snails and maybe a toad or a frog, so it was a real delight to see a teeny, tiny little newt.

    It was so small, 5cm (2 inches) at the longest, that it would have been very easy to miss and it was only the elegant curve of its tail which gave it away. As it was so very little, it was difficult to say what type it was, but I’m guessing that it was a smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris). I’m also guessing that it may have over wintered in its larval state and only left the water this spring. This one appeared to be shedding its skin, which it will do about once a week whilst it is growing


  • Young birds are out and about in the garden

    Miranda Hodgson on 07 May 2010 at 03:24 PM

    The vegetable garden is filled with the calls of young birds. Around the edges of the garden, the shrubs and hedgerow plants became first nesting sites and then nurseries for blackbirds, robins, tits, finches and a single pheasant, currently tucked up amongst some nettles, next to the boundary wall. The pheasant is very close to the compost bays and we often pass by, but we pretend we don’t see one another and she stays put.

    The pheasant, pretending I'm not ther