Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Where the wild things are*

Before living in Germany we lived in England. Most recently in a small village in Staffordshire with fields just a stones throw away, and before that on the edge of a small town very close to Cannock Chase. We lived closer to the countryside than we do now, here in Kettwig, which although very quaint and just on the river is still more a town with bits of the countryside encroaching. Which makes it odd that there's more wildlife here in the middle of the residential area where we live than ever we encountered back in England. Maybe it's because the density of inhabitants is greater in Blighty, maybe there's more wild stuff here on the continent, I'm quite sure it's nothing to do with me becoming more observant!

In Abbots Bromley the wildest creatures we had to put up with were the squirrels that liked to bury acorns in our lawn or the odd deer risking life and limb trying to cross a country lane. But here? Here there's way more.

We have squirrels, of course, but these are the cute red ones, because the big grey American fiends haven't made it onto the continent yet, although it's possible that they have but it's just that there's something bigger than them here that likes a bit of grey squirrel for dinner. There are deer too, I've seen them while I've been out with the dog, now that's a thing of beauty (seeing a deer in the early morning mist, not the dog, clearly). Herons and woodpeckers along by the river are fun to watch/listen to. But it's the rodenty** creatures we seem to have in adundance.

It started with cute little field mice, running along the outside of the house, driving the dog scatty as he tried to find where they'd disappeared to.
It's cold outside now, far too cold for the field mice to play outside so they've relocated and Simon isn't happy. They're in the garage, don't know how they got in, just know that we need to get rid of them. Si bought a plug in electronic noise thingy that is supposed to emit a sound they don't like (and no, it doesn't miaow) but as I've seen the cheeky chaps since it was installed it clearly doesn't work. Yesterday the antimouse action stepped up a gear and I bought two mouse traps and got the tame teenager to earn his keep by setting them up and giving him responsibility for checking and emptying them.

We've had rats too (dog not so keen to chase them) I saw them the other side of the garden fence, running under the neighbours' laurel bushes, then the cheeky buggers climbed up our fence and jumped onto the bird table and ate the bird food. After consultation with the neighbours the ratman was called in and poison traps put down, haven't seen the buggers since.

We also have Martens along our road. I knew about them, having read scare stories online about what they can do to your car, and a friend who has moved to a house with lots of mature trees overlooking the road has been informed by her neighbour that the martens living in the trees have got into her engine and chewed through various cables rendering the car undriveable***. My neighbour spotted martens hanging about in front of our houses and we have certainly witnessed one vanishing up into the engine compartment of a car further along the road (they curl up on the cooling engine) - I'm so glad my car can go in the garage, I don't think field mice are as reknowned for damaging car cables as martens are!

* great book to read to children but the most rubbish film ever apart from ''No Country for Old Men", which was another film that left me feeling I'd lost valuable time from my life.
** have just googled one of said critters and discovered that despite it's love of nibbling it isn't a rodent - apparently to be a rodent you have to have specialised teeth that grow continuously (there's more to the definition obviously, but I wont bore you)
*** I have a feeling that the neighbour was trying hard to apportion blame for insurance claim purposes.

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