The Rat, the Pheasant and the Goldcrest.

Well what a start this year has had. Whilst I have been paying attention to the frosts and flowers. When I have been out in the garden, the main attractions have been of the animal and bird variety. Firstly, The Goldcrest, one of these wonderful little birds is becoming quite a frequent visitor to our garden at home. With the Goldfinches, that are regular visitors in the summer, clearly wintering elsewhere, it is a lovely addition to breakfast, to watch it hoping around the borders. I think it is only a juvenile as its colourings are not bold enough to be an adult but it does have a yellow stripe already to distinguish it from a wren even though it is nearly as tiny.

Secondly came the Rat. Cutting some rather boring conifers down in a front garden last week. Luckily, I was only at the point of using my loppers, to clear around the trunk and not holding the chainsaw. As being startled with a chainsaw in hand would not be advisable. Anyway, I am clearing branches away, when all of a sudden, a rat runs down one of the branches on the far side of the tree, and scurries away in the undergrowth. When I had cleared more of the branches I found an old birds nest with a couple of half eaten apples in. I think this is where Mr Rat was spending his winter morning. Although how he got the apples up into the tree in the first place! that is quite some effort.

A few days later, having only just recovered from the rat I had another adventure. Working in quiet Derbyshire villages which are often surrounded by countryside I am very lucky. I am also often in close proximity to and having to cope with the demands of the local wildlife. Badgers, Rabbits and Foxes all make regular appearances and it is not uncommon to find a pheasant wandering round several of my gardens. Usually they fly off, squawking in disgust at being disturbed. Not this pheasant. He had other ideas.

He looks like butter wouldn’t melt!

In a part of the garden given over to lawn and trees, which is not very regularly used by anybody for anything anymore. Especially since the mower was put away sometime in October, it has seen no visitors at all. Enter The Gardener, stage left, long overdue but finally here to tackle the fallen leaves and get the place spruced up for spring. On stage already is the cock Pheasant, out surveying his grounds on his morning constitutional.

For the first few minutes the drama continues as you would expect, the pheasant seeming undisturbed wanders around to check the boundaries of his estate and the gardener rakes leaves into piles. Then the pheasant decides this is an intrusion he is not going to bear. How dare this gardener start messing up the leaves on his land without so much as a by your leave. He makes a bee line for the gardener and begins walking backwards and forwards in front of her. Trying to find a way past the leaf rake to peck her. As she walks back to the van, to get a trug for said leaves, she is accompanied at close range by the pheasant. Trug acquired the gardener tries to make for the leaf piles but the pheasant is having none of it and will not let her past. Then he flies up on to the little wall and starts running towards her, more at my eye level. She did, valiantly, try a couple of times to scare him away with the leaf rake but he kept coming back, trying to get to peck her. Eventually, he had her back at the van and by the unlocked drivers door. As he made towards the front of the van, she threw the leaf rake in, and dived into the driver’s seat closing the door behind her. At this the Pheasant jumped up on the bonnet of the van and starts walking towards the windscreen. Then he hops on to the roof. At this point she realised the back doors, although pulled together were not secured. There was nothing for it though, our intrepid gardener was not getting back out to close them. As she slowly reversed the van, trying to avoid the trug and sweeping brush, left abandoned in the rush to escape. The pheasant stayed on the roof until she had fully turned the van around, then he was running around the van and only his head could be seen occasionally so it was hard to tell if it was safe to drive. When he jumped back on to the wall, at the side of the van, the gardener took her chance and made for the drive.

Normally I love this tree lined drive with its lampost from Narnia but not on this occasion.

It is quite a long tree lined drive with grass areas on either side and the Pheasant ran alongside the van all the way down the drive and out into the lane at the end before flying on to the churchyard wall, to watch as she “Exited pursued by ” Pheasant. Then blissfully the gardener turned the corner to freedom and safety. I pulled in and got out to close the doors. Later, with back up, I returned to the garden to collect the tools I had abandoned in my haste to leave. The pheasant was still there, enjoying its evening perambulation . It left me in peace as I collected my things but it chased the car back down the drive and into the lane again.

This was the little fellow chasing us up the drive when we arrived to collect my tools.

I know it seems silly now to be scared of a pheasant when I’m 5’3. In my defense, he was very determined that I was on his patch and he wasn’t having any of it. Note to self, Always make your presence felt in the whole garden regularly then this won’t happen again.

Anyway, here’s hoping if you have ventures out so far this year that your wanderings have been far less adventurous and far more plant based than mine. Wisteria pruning, chopping down grasses, spotting snowdrops and seeking out winter scent, are all, far more worthy ways to be spending your time. Until my next adventure, Happy Days in the Garden x

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