Today is world otter day. I don’t know any otters, but this little cat, daft as a brush, a sandwich short of a picnic, bonkers, batty and totally à l’ouest as we say over here, is as sweet as any sea otter.

ninnie right way


#Three Line Tales: And the result is…yes!

In the light of Ireland’s abortion referendum on Saturday, there can be only one story behind this photo—Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.

photo by Julian Lozano via Unsplash



Night falls on the sport’s field where the campaigners for change wait with bated breath for the result of the referendum to appear on the big screen, the referendum that will decide whether the country is prepared to take women’s rights seriously.

They wait with the fear in their guts that the power of the priest and the over-bearing weight of tradition will screw a ‘no’ vote out of the vast majority of the rural population.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the anguish of waiting is over, and the result flashes up on the screen—yes!

En promenade with Trixie

Trixie is not the kind of cat that shows much interest in people. She is very vocal, but that’s telling people what she wants, not an attempt at meaningful conversation. The only time she was known to allow anyone to pick her up and not protest was when she was an abandoned kitten and was looking for a home daft enough to take her in. Her behaviour has changed quite a lot since we’ve been here. Not that she purrs or sits on your lap or anything demeaning like that, but she has developed a taste for going walkies. Every afternoon she comes with me, or me and Finbar on a stroll around the property. It’s two hectares so it makes a reasonable stroll for a cat.

I set off down towards the stream, and Trixie follows.

Trixie begins

She knows the path

She knows the routine

We meet one of the noisy critters that chuckles all night. It thinks we can’t see it, but the water in this bit of the ditch is only about half an inch deep.


Come on Trixie

We inspect the deer damage. This is supposed to be what happens when they rub their horns against trees, but since they do it systematically to the young saplings, I wonder if it’s not that they are eating the bark.

Deer damage

Trixie takes the lead along the hedge. She inspects the animal runs while I take pics of the orchids.

Trixie ahead

There are only a few serapias in our meadow, but the one at the other side of the hedge has masses of them. This one appears to have a bee stuck in it.

Sarapia orchid

There are hundreds of bee orchids

Bee orchids

and a big clump of these that look like birds’ nest orchids, but since they are rare and grow mainly in pine woods, I wouldn’t swear to it.

Birds' nest orchids

Looking across to the house. The pink flower is a pyramid orchid of which there are hundreds. We’ve noticed that the people round here leave these orchids standing when they mow their lawns. I wonder if there isn’t some local legend about them.

Meadow high

A very old blackthorn with sloe berries forming

very old blackthorn

Fig and walnut trees in the patch that was the old kitchen garden

Fig and walnut

A bit of the massive vine that we are liberating from the brambles


The next section is where the grass snake lives and I don’t like to hang about. It is very large and it hisses. Then there are the oak tree where squirrels live and both Trixie and Finbar are very keen to get at, so I carry Trixie, protesting vociferously until we get to the poplars and the black locust tree.

Home again

Home again.

More poo and percussion

To get back to poo. On several occasions I have seen bushy-tailed critters about the size of a cat and thought they must be stoats even though they are rather bigger, bushier and have bigger ears than your average stoat. We don’t have pine martens because there aren’t any pine trees, but there is a lot of poo left on the parapet by the side of the road where it crosses the stream, and that is a feature of martens and not stoats. The poo is often full of cherry stones which isn’t really a stoat thing either.

Today I learned that there are two kinds of marten—the pine marten and the stone marten. Different habitat, slightly different colouring, and I recognised my bushy-tailed friends. Looking for a you tube video, I found this, and was reminded of the beast in the culvert, that ate dead voles, dog biscuit and took a potato to play with, and I knew I had discovered who the neighbours are.



Other interesting discoveries, the bird that makes the gentle poo poo poo noise (poo again) is the hoopoe. I see them often now on the roof and round the front of the house.


and what I thought was a night bird  or an electrical noise of some kind is in fact a midwife toad.


While getting this post together, I was disturbed by a knocking coming from the attic just over my head. The cats were in the barn and don’t generally knock anyway, so I went up to have a look. The knocking stopped and looking through one of the many holes in a shutter saw the cause hopping about in the grass down below.

It’s all go here, isn’t it?


Haibun: This place

An extreme haibun (less than 55 words) for the NaPoWriMo prompt.

Looking east

Here is green, stalk and leaf, the bright splash of flower heads, a jay’s blue wing feathers, and layers of sun like honey on a wafer. Here, trees bow, breeze-blown, spreading unfurled flags of many nations, speaking myriad tongues to the water.


Noise is bird-babble,

water trickle where ducks splash,



Spring flowers

Spring is here and the vegetation is shooting. The deer are about again during daylight hours, and the hares, briefly—it is March after all. We see rabbits in the early morning and stoats and weasels. The drainage ditch that runs parallel to the stream is full of running water that drains down from the fields above the house and from the pond in the next field. So we now have frogs too. This would have been my idea of heaven when I was a child. It’s hard to believe that I am living it now.

This afternoon, when the showers were over, I took some photos of the wildflowers I am learning about, and discovering that some of them are quite rare, like these gorgeous wild tulips growing on the bank of the stream.

Wild tupips.jpg

and this stuff, that I thought was some kind of tulip is the lizard orchid. It’s not common, but we seem to have more than our fair share. These leaves that last over the winter will die back when the flower spike grows.


The pulmonaria (lungwort) is still flowering,


and in the ditch, the first buttercups are appearing.


I came across the Clandestine, the weird parasitic plant that grows out of the willow and alder roots last March and I’m pleased it’s back again.


The Euphorbia is already tall beneath the alders along the stream bank.


The wild plum blossom has all but fallen now,


but the dandelions make up for it in colour.





Death and poo

So, this is the post you have all been waiting for. The badger latrine post. Over the last few months I have been catching up on a lifetime of having missed out on ‘nature’. Some people recognise birdsong, birds, animal tracks and animal poo without really noticing it. I don’t. I was brought up in a semi-rural environment in 1960s and 70s Yorkshire. Pesticides were sloshed about willy-nilly, and every other ‘lad’ had a lurcher or a whippet or a ferret or two to massacre the wildlife, so although there was lots of countryside, not all that much lived in it. In any case, when you’re growing up, badger poo and owl pellets are much less likely to capture your interest than some gorgeous boy who looks like David Essex.

Now that I am older and wiser, being able to recognise the residents of our place has become much more important. Most of them (except the daft ones like pheasants and partridges) stay out of sight and out of mind as much as possible. But they leave tracks. Finding fox paw prints in the soft mud outside the barn door, I know the fox was sniffing around the house. That dog and cats choose to ignore him/her/them makes me feel even better, because it means they are getting used to the presence of creatures they used to be very wary of.

Unlike our nearest neighbour, who is also from the city and has developed an interest in the wildlife she now cohabits with, I don’t drive children to school at crack of dawn and see the night critters scurrying home. She has seen badgers and foxes, but I only get to see the tracks they leave behind. I have learnt, for example, that rabbits often borrow the homes dug out by bigger creatures. Which is why the big den in the bank across the road is inhabited by rabbits and hares as well as (probably) a badger. Badgers don’t mind. They build such huge rambling homes that there’s plenty of room for colonies of rabbits and the odd hare family.

I also learnt that badgers do their business in latrines that they dig at the limit of their territory, as far away as possible from their living quarters. Just along the road from us is a small family cemetery belonging to the people who live in the next property over the Caillou from us. Judging from the mementos placed on the graves, the men were great hunters.


They’ve been putting them in the ground here for centuries. This is the oldest part. I didn’t like to photograph the newer part which is on the right and covered in floral tributes.

It seems only poetic justice that the badger has made his/her latrine in the cemetery. If you’re curious, badgers do a huge quantity of poo. There are two latrines, full, and a new one they’ve dug, I suppose for exactly that reason. They trundle across the field, slalom down the bank and cross the road to to their business. This is the slide.

badger run

(Sorry about the tiny photo—it does that sometimes) There are lots of these slides in the banks around the fields. The land is hilly and the fields always end in ditches to take the rainwater runoff. So, the badger slides down from the field, crosses the little road, and digs its latrines on the other side.

twin toilets.jpg


badger latrine1.jpg

The photos don’t show the scale very well, but that’s a lot of poo. Husband’s photos were better because it was sunny when we went out first. His phone won’t cough them up though, so I took these later just before the rain. Anyway, I thought it was fascinating, and I am discovering that finding clues to the presence of wild animals is as intriguing as actually seeing them.

For anyone wondering about the creature that lives in the culvert, judging from the prints it leaves, I think it’s a badger. It eats dog biscuit and Trixie’s dead voles, but the potato is still at the back there, and it has only nibbled at carrots and apples. I prefer to leave it to its own devices.