Friday, 24 April 2015

A short dog walk

I live in North Yorkshire on the southern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. I live outside of a town, on a country lane. It's very rural which is nice. The farm across the road used to be home to a dairy herd, but foot and mouth ruined that, so now it's all arable. Today's little stroll with the dog took me around the edge of a field of oil-seed rape which seems to be flowering early this year. The field edges are teeming with wild flowers including dog's mercury, forget-me-nots, mustard cress and others which I don't know the names of; and the hedgerows are full of buckthorn blossom (I will make sloe gin this year!) with the hawthorn yet to flower. In the sunshine, various butterflies were courting.

On one side of the field, under a fallen tree there is a burrow and for some time I had wondered who lived there. I had assumed rabbits, but a more logical think says this cannot be the case as there are no droppings around the holes which rabbits would normally leave. There are also no piles of used bedding which can be indicative of badgers. Today however, I found out the identity of the occupants, it's a fox den. Sadly (or not, depending on your view point) there was a dead fox cub on the ground on top of the burrow. It looked quite fresh but was too far into the branches to investigate further.

A little further on I found evidence of predators in the form of damaged pheasant eggs. It could be the nearby foxes, or maybe even crows as there are quite a few locally. The area is managed by a local keeper and the left over birds from last year are looking quite splendid and will be preparing to nest. They occasionally manage to raise a few babies, but are less successful that you'd imagine!

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