There has been much merriment and excitement lately with many unexpected moments of surprise and joy, mostly arising from the increasing number of creatures now under our care (if not directly under the roof). Whenever I can get into the Growlery – where his byzantine set-up lurks – I hunker down and stare at the Boy Named Jo, this perfect charmer. As I write I can hear him, in his little nest all fluffy with clouds of pink and blue padding, at the bottom of one of his homes (which are cleverly connected, like a labyrinth), tucking into a monkey nut which, along with fresh broccoli are his favourite foods. Silence soon follows, which means that sleep has once again overtaken him fully; our own little dormouse. When his food bowl is topped up, he rushes to it straight away, pushing up his sleeves and diving in with gusto, jettisoning this, that and the other in order to locate a particular nibble which he will then either eat or secret in his pouch for later. He has a number of food hordes, one in a length of tunnel, over which he climbs effortlessly on his many perambulations around his considerable territory. One morning Kemo Sabe and I found that he had placed carefully all the shelled peanuts and pumpkin seeds on the inside of his smaller wheel (he has two), but by the next morning, they had been redeployed and rearranged within one of his tiny plastic houses. What is in his mind, I wonder? Does he ponder as I do? He greets us, certainly, and will not nip. He knows when it is time for vegetables and does not mind the vacuum cleaner in the least, stout fellow that he is. I have high hopes for him as he grows in stature.
Our Mantalinis continue to visit and to feed: we wonder where the nest may be and when we will be introduced to the ducklings. The weather has been dismal and wet over the last few days, interrupting their routine waddlings-about, but their insistent announcement of arrival indicates they know us and expect us to know and care for them.
And then we have new arrivals: the Pardiggles. What we suspect to have been Mrs Pardiggle amazed us a couple of mornings ago twitching a bit of weed in a brackish pool on the rocks beneath the sand dunes, in the dawn sunshine before the rains came down. This morning we found a far less interesting little puddle – without so much as a pebble to commend it – full of the punctuation marks which are new-born tadpoles, some of which we brought home and offered to the pond, our wild-life haven, where there is food a-plenty. We hope they prosper and like it here.
On Friday the BBC broadcast the very last episode of Tweet of the Day, which has been running for a year. The final programmes were about the dawn chorus, that natural wonder, of which we never tire. Every location has its own unique lyric ingredients, contributed by the various species whose habitat it is and the BBC made several versions – on salt flats in Suffolk, and a moor in Northumberland. The final broadcast was recorded especially in Whitechapel, to the east of the City of London, where the robin sprung into action in the dead of night under an orange security light, and eventually was joined by the blackbird and then the tits and sparrows. As light itself encroached, the alarms of ambulances and police cars joined in, as London – which is a sense never knows a dawn – grew busier again. It was incredibly evocative, and reminded us of Stepney City Farm, which we visited recently. We love this tiny two-minute daily jewel of a programme and will miss it terribly. Over the course of the year we have been taken in our imaginations far and wide, up hill and down dale, as we have attended to these creatures, their calls and their ways. Some we will never see; some like the curlew, which are rare to others, are our constant companions. Some of them see places of which we can only dream. Some we hope one day to glimpse. This week it is time to go out to the islands again and see the puffins, returned from their winter in the Atlantic. We will all say welcome back, and mean it.
If you are interested in Tweet of the Day, which has now won awards, you can find more about it here: