2017 has brought some interesting wildlife developments in our locality. We live in a beautiful part of Huddersfield, in an area where urban meets rural. Our garden always has a nice selection of birds, foxes and badgers live nearby, the stream at the bottom of the field hosts grey wagtails and dippers and there’s always something interesting passing overhead, maybe a heron, a kestrel and, on just one occasion, a red kite. In the quarry behind our house are 20+ ponds built to accommodate protected great-crested newts displaced from the quarry to allow for landfill. At this very moment, there are loads of baby newts in our pond. Our rarest visitor, albeit many years ago now, was a kookaburra, presumably escaped from custody and enjoying its freedom, despite the weather being, hardly, Antipodean.
But this year has brought one or two pleasant surprises. Buzzards set up home in the trees by the stream and have been a constant source of pleasure as they call from the treetops or from high on the thermals. The green woodpeckers which were more often heard than seen were more conspicuous, paying noisy visits to the garden and, at last, making themselves available for photographs. Two tawny owlets spent many nights calling in their characteristic whisper from our twisted willow.
Our neighbours very large pond began to attract visitors, otherwise unseen. Not so welcome are a pair of American mink, clearly living in the area and visiting the garden every day. At around the same time, a kingfisher made an appearance. This was quite an honour because, although we have the stream, I didn’t expect to have a kingfisher within a mile of our gardens. To date, the mink are still visiting and the kingfisher has practically made the pond its home, feeding on newts and whatever other small pond life is available. Last night, a fox passed the camera trap in the garden, carrying a rabbit.
Travelling to far flung parts of the world in search of different wildlife is still a great privilege and experience but it’s great to have amazing creatures right on our doorstep. Long may it continue.