| A nightly procession of pheasants, ducks, deer and badgers in the garden|
|Every evening I wait until the small birds have left the garden feeders for their roosts. I always wonder why they leave so early when there seems still to be plenty of light by which to feed. Then the last of the food goes out in time for the night visitors – two small trays of mixed grain on the ground and a pile of peanuts on top of a large oak tree stump.|
As the light begins to fade, a cock pheasant brings in his harem of four females. They feed mainly on the grain, but one female has taken a liking to the peanuts.
After the pheasants retire, two pairs of wild mandarin ducks appear. Three of them feed on the grain, but one male always goes for the peanuts. The male mandarins will soon start to moult, but for now their remarkable plumage – seen from where I sit at my window, just nine feet from the tree stump – is outstanding.
When the light fades further the ducks depart, as if sensing the arrival of the big boys, as I call them. Two roe deer walk in looking almost aloof and, as they do so, my mind conjures background music by Wagner. The scene when the giants first appear in Der Ring des Nibelungen seems to suit this pair. One is a young buck, the other a doe, and both are looking scruffy as they are shedding into their chestnut summer coats. The buck moves a few steps and starts on the peanuts: it is awesome to have one so close to me. Once they have taken their fill, they move off.
Some time later, and dark enough for me to need a red filter on my torch to see it, the first badger arrives. This is Longtail, named after its long silvery tail, which almost glows. A procession of wildlife each evening.