Within a month the young rabbits are independent, and the doe can produce another litter. See why the ‘breeding like rabbits’ expression developed? A constant war of attrition now occurs between me and the invading lagomorphs. I rarely see them, but scrapes, droppings, and selectively chomped foliage indicate their nocturnal activity. I have a zero tolerance of any new excavations, filling them in as soon as possible, and sometimes throwing down a sprinkling of cayenne pepper as a sign of my annoyance onto the replaced earth.
“That’ll teach you!”
But sadly, it doesn’t.
This was going to be my approach to both of these new excavations. But the droppings I found at the entrance to the largest tunnel were definitely not rabbit. Badger or fox I suspect.
It was only after filling the hole in, that I wondered what had in fact happened here, whilst we were tucked up in bed. A bit of research revealed that both badgers and foxes will take young rabbits from burrows, if they can get at them. And with so little food around at the moment, had a fox or badger happened upon a rabbit, or even smelled evidence of previous rabbit activity, and opened up both holes just to check?
Human hair apparently also has the right mix of predator scent to warn badgers and foxes away, but at my stage of life, there’s little of this surplus to requirements, so pee from a watering can is what it has to be. Like any security measure, only time will tell just how effective it really is, but to date we’ve had no poultry losses. Friends living nearby have lost 9 chickens out of 11, within the last year to a fox.
The badger trust also confirms these deterrents have been tried, along with lion dung, before adding without any explanation, that they are not recommended! Presumably, in today’s H&S obsessed culture, they’re worried that endorsing it might encourage armies of gardeners to turn up at the local zoo with bucket and spade.
(Remember poor ‘Albert and the Lion’? I thought I did, and remembered that it was a poem by Hilaire Belloc. It wasn’t. After googling it, I discovered that it was by the unfamiliar Marriott Edgar. But I probably recalled it from a recording of the poem by Stanley Holloway, which was no doubt played on the radio, and listened to with glee by me in the ’60’s.
Click here for the PDF advice to gardeners who have a badger problem, from the Badger Trust.
As you can see, the young rabbit lingered long enough for me to return inside, grab the camera and get a few pictures. Had it sought refuge in there after escaping the snapping jaws of the burrow excavator? We’ll never know, but with photos taken, it was tipped out to no doubt return to plague the garden in the near future.
But a reminder that although we gardeners are frustrated by the lack of the weather’s normal spring trajectory, wildlife is carrying on coping and battling away in spite of the unseasonal cold. Not to mention the livestock. ‘Bernie the Bronze’ still struts his stuff in the cold even though his 2 female companions are hunkered down on their egg clutches, oblivious (or maybe not?) to his antics.
“Planting For Pollinators” is the title of a film based talk suggested to me last year by a gardening club secretary. The film/talk had its first showing last Tuesday to the very welcoming gardeners of Newport (Pembrokeshire) Gardening Club. Initially dreading having to put another film together – I hate the tedious editing process – it ended up being a great stimulus for me to undertake lots of further research around this vital topic.
For those unfamiliar with the gorgeous small seaside resort of Newport, it nestles at the inlet of Parrog bay and estuary. I’d hoped for a sunset image when we arrived to set up. Instead a suitably grey, chilly scene greeted us as we parked at the venue – the Newport Sailing Club House on the sea front and overlooking the bay with the tide right in.
Speaking to a series of moving images with accompanying natural garden sounds is considerably more challenging than a normal slideshow, but people do seem to appreciate the movement and sound that video can provide. Apart from a couple of minor first night glitches it went well, and we had really encouraging feedback from the audience afterwards. The still image above, sets the opening scene for the film, capturing a huge honeybee influx onto the Sedum flowers in our garden last September, for just one and a half hours.
We nearly always come away from these events both re-energised by other gardeners’ enthusiasm, and also picking up a few practical tips from Q and A, and chatting to members after the film. This night was no exception, and the subject of insect friendly flowers is one I’ve become increasingly fascinated by, and fortunately it does seem to be gaining more widespread coverage in the gardening media in recent times.
After knocking down the equipment and loading the car, we had a memorable journey home, not because of minor snow flurries, but because we witnessed not one, but two barn owls, hunting along road side verges at different points of the hour long trip. Is there a collective noun for flying barn owls. Perhaps a ‘flurry’ would be appropriate?
- ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ becomes ‘Rijnveld’s Early, Mid and Late Sensation’
- ‘February Gold’ becomes ‘April Gold’
- ‘Topolino’ becomes ‘Topple Over’, after frosts. Actually I malign this. It’s proved pretty resilient, other than after very low temperatures.
- ‘Jet Fire’ becomes ‘Jet Stream-Freeze’
- ‘Tête-à-tête’ becomes, with a switch of language from French to Italian, and a change of meaning, ‘Gelida Manina’. For those unsure of the translation, do watch below, for an appropriate explanation:
and indeed an image to reflect the thermal requirements for life in a Welsh Cottage.
- Of course there are still a few plants in the garden which seem appropriately named for this year’s weather, and which do indeed lift the chilled spirits, particularly when the sun shines. Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’, Chionodoxa – Glory of the Snow.
- and Pulsatilla vulgaris, the Pasque Flower, which has nearly managed to open a flower as I write this on Good Friday morning.
Happy Easter to you all.