Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Saturday 12 November 2016

Lurking in the shadows

The garden feeding station is a massive success; loads of birds visiting the feeders and consuming around 4 kg of mixed seed and sunflower hearts every week, plus the obligatory fat balls. The variety is a little sparse, House Sparrows dominating the scene for the majority of the time, but Starlings, Collared Doves, Feral Pigeons, Great & Blue Tits, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, a pair of Rose - ringed Parakeets and a Robin also take advantage of the facilities. I have to admit to spending considerable amounts of time staring out of the kitchen and marveling at the antics of these feeding birds.

There is, however, a down side to this generosity - Brown Rats! They have always been a feature of our living with a farm at the bottom of the garden. Each harvest sees these creatures move out of the crops and into the hedgerows and gardens along Vine Close, so it's not a surprise to see a rat scurry across the lawn during the autumn. To have them feeding, unconcernedly, under the feeding station is taking the piss. I've been forced to use violence - my trusty 1959 Webley Mk III underlever air-rifle has been called into action and has, so far, accounted for four of the little blighters. Sadly, this has not been enough, I have had to resort to poison as they are now under the decking right outside the kitchen! I'm not happy about the poison, it's a last resort solution in my opinion. If I was able to spend more time with the rifle, I would, but work and general life keep getting in the way.

The one highlight from all this time watching out for the furry fiends, was the chance encounter with a very rare garden visitor in the form of a stunning little Song Thrush, quietly feeding in the shadow of the buddlieas. It made my day!


  1. Dyl, as a 13 year old I went fishing with my dad to Marsworth. The bushes were heaving with rats. I couldn't catch fish, but discovered I could catch rats.
    I'll spare the details but will add that once I demonstrated the method (rod and line) to a group of older lads, the day for them took on a level of utter joy.
    Not so for the rats. Piles were accumulated.

  2. Richie,
    I also remember similar experiences at Marsworth, along the canal bank! We used wire traces and trebles - the rats were everywhere and easy prey! Happy days? - Dyl

  3. My bird feeders to are inundated with Spuggies and although it's nice to help out these endangered birds, having a resident flock all year of around 50 birds does take a toll on the supply of sunflower hearts. Surprised that the Song Thrush is as rare there as here on Sheppey, I see 1 or 2 a year. I've only had a rat problem once in 30 years and I was amazed at how the rats went up the smooth pole of the feeder station, even after I smothered it in vaseline. In the end I bought a rat trap and let them out of it to see how many beat my Jack Russells to the top of the garden - few did.

    1. As with you, on Sheppey, House Sparrows remain numerous around our garden feeding station here on The Isle of Thanet. The appearance of a Song Thrush in, as opposed to over, the garden is a very sad indication as to how badly this species is faring in 2016. As a child, growing up in Hertfordshire, I remember finding their mud-lined nests in the hedgerows almost everywhere I went. That there is still a pair holding territory around Newlands is blog worthy - a second singing male over by Broadstairs Cricket Ground was an exceptional event during the Spring.
      Brown Rats are fantastic animals, I really do like them but have to draw a line when they become a nuisance/threat to my aviary or home. In an ideal world I would prefer to shoot those which were the problem, poison is far less discriminate and I worry about the knock on effect! Hopefully, with a bout of cold weather to assist, the problem will be solved and I can get back to normal - the air rifle is a very capable tool when dealing with odd individuals. - Dyl

  4. I have a lot of rats too Dylan. I too live on the edge of arable land and they love bird food. I dont like poison so use a live trap to catch them. I then drive a good few miles away and release them on my way to work! I'm sure its illegal. I have just started to use a kill trap too but it has taken 2 voles, a wood mouse and a young rat so far so I'm not too happy about that either. I might have to get a gun...
    I see myself as a rat predator rather than an eradicator....

    1. Stewart, great to hear from you! These furry bleeders are a real conundrum, I really like the little sods but just can't have them living in/under the house. I'm sure the scenario is not unique - I'd enjoy that live trap gig, but would only take them back to the farm cos I don't have to drive to work. I'm rather hopeful that a quick dose of this poison will cure the problem and things can be allowed to return to normal. I certainly don't want the eradicator tag applied if possible - "The Equalizer" would be nice - yes Edward Woodward, he was a cool dude and right down my street .. got any spare Waxwings? All the best - Dyl

  5. My local patch seems to have plenty of Song Thrush but very few House Sparrows. The House Sparrow which called briefly in my own road was the first I'd heard from my garden in 15 years.
    My bird feeders get all manner of species, but no sparrows.
    I once spotted a Jack Russell as it came trotting along a river bank. Then watched as it stopped and dived into some vegetation, grabbed, and slung whatever it was, high in the air. While it was up there doing somersaults, I realised it was a rat. The JR was bouncing around on it's hind legs waiting for the rodent to land, and I can tell you, when it did, that rat was given a good shaking. Dog trot's off with prize. Result!

    1. Rich,
      There must be something going on around our little part of the world - Bev made comment, on Thursday morning, about the numbers of House Sparrows (using the bird bath) and how it reminded her of when she was young and living in Yorkshire! Bloody hell - that was a few years back but she is dead right - there are loads of House Sparrows around our feeding station at present. It is not unusual to have upwards of thirty bids on show and others in the Christmas Tree and hedgerow. Song Thrushes are an anual migrant around Newlands Farm, yet very few hang about or visit the garden, so it was a big deal when that bird appeared under the buddlieas!
      The best rat catching dog, I've ever witnessed, was a poodle on a farm in Cornwall - I was very young at the time and the head shaking behavior, to deliver the "coup de gras", was amazing to witness. - Dyl