Sunday, 7 April 2013

One Red Berry

[Last of this week's front-loaded posts]

 It is always amazing to me that there is anything left for the wildlife to eat out there by this time of year.  You'd think the cupboard would be bare after four months of constant winter foraging, but -- thankfully -- it never is, quite.  Even in an agricultural landscape like the one above (Test Valley near Mottisfont) -- systematically strip-mined of vegetation by the plough, strung with high-tension electricity cables, and planted with inedible and alien monoculture species like wheat and barley -- the remaining trees and hedgerows provide enough food and shelter.

In fact, incredibly, there are now thought to be more deer at large in Britain than at any time since the last Ice Age.  It's true, you do see them everywhere, stood in the middle of fields with ears pricked as your train rattles by.  We hear them barking at night in our suburban corner of the South Coast conurbation, and a few years ago, a female Roe Deer appeared looking speculatively over our garden wall.  Venison steaks and sausages regularly appear in most supermarkets.

Most wild creatures seem to have an inbuilt restraint that prevents them from scoffing the lot, when confronted by a hedge full of ripe berries.  They must have been pleasantly surprised about 10,000 years ago, when those greedy two-legged monkeys, with their sharp eyes, baskets and digging sticks, stopped competing for a limited supply of seasonal treats, and started planting their own.


Zouk Delors said...

Yes, it's interesting the way birds and other wild creatures seem to understand instinctively not to over-deplete food resources, unlike humans who often behave like the proverbial fox in the hen-house.

"Just take what you need, and leave the rest" (R. Robertson, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down).

eeyorn said...

A few months ago, I saw a mountjack working its way down our main estate road, and looking somewhat agitated. It had evidently found its way out of Monkswood - probably near my father's house in Wildwood Lane, and the way it was going, it wasn't going to rediscover the woods anytime soon.

Its a measure of how much the woods sustain a good deal of wildlife in the number of squirrels which are to be found. I was regularly coming across at least 10 a day while walking the woods last year.

Zouk Delors said...


That muntjak (sic) was probably just popping down ASDA's for some fags!

I used to see them regularly out of my bedroom window when I lived temporarily at the Haven at the the old manor house(?) in Chells. The grounds included a little woodland at the end of the garden from whence they would cautiously step at night. I've no idea how they arrived at that place. Presumably from over the Lakes? They'd still have a bit of urban navigation to do. Apparently they can often be seen crossing Six Hills Way at night too. Honestly! I mean what's the point of building underpasses if they're just going to be ignored anyway?