Being and older building surrounded by countryside the house is not just surrounded by nature but is a refuge for wildlife too, with the river running close by, a reservoir around a quarter of a mile away and a large area of woodland behind us, you are never far away from nature.
The local deer population seems to have grown over the last couple of years, both red deer and Muntjacks are often seen grazing in the open fields. Also squirrels (albeit grey as opposed to our red ones) seem to have been increasing in numbers of late.
The roof of the building is said to have colonies of bats in there, this only came to light when construction work was due to begin and the surveyor found them roosting in the rafters, due to their protected status a portion of the work had to be delayed until they had finished bringing up their young. This was several years back, although I’m told that they will usually continue to roost in the same place if possible, so the chances are that they are still there now. Also the mix of water, woodland and open countryside means they could be almost any of our indigenous British species.
Water voles and mink are both said to have been seen at the river and there is even a roumour that otters are present there, although I do find this highly unlikely and there has been no confirmed sighting from a reliable source. I would expect that if they were there a local conservation group would have undertaken a monitoring scheme to keep an eye on their progress. It’s quite likely that any sightings are just a mink, wrongly identified instead. You can buy loads of different monitoring type of equipment, so there’s no doubt that it would be quite easy to trap or photograph them.
Rats are an obvious problem all over the UK and our waterways are a particular hot spot. If you live near a waterway, or in town particularly close to a restaurant you will likely have a lot of rats, there are humane traps available, so anyone can keep on top of the problem.
This year I have seen a huge number of Bumble bees, I don’t know if their numbers are on the increase or if the weather has somehow worked in their favor, but I can’t remember ever having seen so many. Of course it could just be that their nest is close by somewhere.
The local beekeeper is also often around tending to his hives, although I’m told it’s been a bad year for honeybees as they built up early in the warm weather we had back in March, then have struggled to get out to feed due to the low temperatures and high volumes of rain we’ve had this spring and summer. He is not expecting a great honey crop this year, you can see updates about how he is getting on here www.honeybeehive.co.uk.
The raptors are another regular sighting around here, Buzzards, Red Kites and Kestrels are all regularly seen and seem to do well feeding on the mice and voles which are abundant in the hedgerows and fields. Speaking of which, there must be some kind of subsidy available to farmers this year to encourage them to leave fields to grow as wild meadow. I’ve seen several, which were previously arable but have now been left to grow wild, I expect they will be cutting them for hay at some point soon, but it still leaves a great opportunity for wildflowers to grow and provide nectar and pollen for both the wild insects and our local beekeepers wards.