I’m finding work hard going at the moment. However many leaves I rake up
there always seem to be more. I look up at the oaks, sigh, rub my back and realise that there are still so many more leaves to come. So many, many more. Oaks hang on to their leaves longer than most trees; the ash trees lost all theirs weeks ago. Ash comes into leaf late and loses them early; hardly seems worth the bother.
Because it’s still so warm, the grass is still growing and in need of cutting. Mowing soggy grass is a pain. The muddy clippings clog up the mower and the heavy roller churns up the wet ground. The lawns look like a panzer division has trundled across them.
Still, at least I’ve got the Priory Owl to keep me company. Not that I’ve ever seen the Priory Owl – though I hear her often enough. And I know where she is. Roosting in a dense clump of conifers close to the greenhouse. Sometimes I go into the clump and peer, myopically, up into the branches. But I can never see her, though I know she’s there. I find her pellets, you see; at the base of one of the conifers.
Here’s one. (Not a thing of great beauty so I’ve included a pretty auricula in shot). In case you don’t know, owls regurgitate the stuff they can’t digest. They will swallow their prey whole, digest what they can and then bring up the rest; all the fur and bones, in a neat little parcel – for sad gardeners to fascinate over.
Soak the pellet overnight and you can then (if you have no friends to talk to during your lunch hour) carefully prise it apart.
Teasing apart the fur reveals lots of little bones,
a couple of lower jawbones and a skull.
I’m by no means an expert but it’s probably a common or bank vole. (And to the lower right is an insect wing – a beetle of some sort I imagine. Yum yum).
I would dearly love to secure a good shot of the Priory Owl. But I’ll need to see her first! She’s probably a tawny and she’s picky where she nests. Despite making her a nest box two years ago, she has yet to use it.
But with so many voles in the gardens perhaps she’ll decide that 2012 is finally the year to start a family at the Priory. Here’s hoping … though the voles probably won’t agree.