I go on a lot more walks round our village now, thanks chiefly to a canine companion. Our small village is a mile south of the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, separated by the golf course and a band of trees, known as Uphill Woods. By the woods, on the village side is a small meadow known as the Donkey Field or the Bluebell Field – each spring it is covered with a succession of flowers, first snowdrops (some are blooming already) then crocuses, primroses, aconites, daffodils and finally a spread of bluebells. Apparently the local lady of the manor kept donkeys in the field – so legend has it! On the west side of the village is the sea, on the east side fields and the hospital with its car parks. The south of the village is Uphill Hill – the village get’s its name from a Saxon or Viking chieftan Oppa who had a wharf or pill on the River Axe which enters the sea here. So our small village has plenty of countryside of different sorts all around.
I’m not an expert in fauna and fauna, but there are people in the village who are. I can recognise quite a few birds, for example as well as hearing (but not seeing) sparrows, ditto a blackbird, I saw plenty of seagulls, a couple of magpies, lots of pigeons, some collar doves and a jay. Surprisingly I didn’t see any jackdaws, of which there are plenty in and around here, nor any crows. For some reason we very rarely see starlings either, nor thrushes – in fact I’m not sure I have ever seen a thrush in the village. Along the water we sometimes see herons – who also raid fish ponds, and also the occasional egret. Up on the hill I have on occasion seen birds of prey hovering, but to be honest, I couldn’t identify them.
There are literally hundreds if not more squirrels, the grey variety, and they are generally seen as a pest, but although the native red squirrels are prettier and more jolly, the greys have a cheeky mischief about them. There is plenty of evidence of moles in the Bluebell Field, they have turned over the soil making their molehills. Although tiny they are very vicious, so if you see one, don’t be tempted to pick them up. The mole used to have the nickname of ‘the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat’ – it was a Jacobean toast to the mole who made the hill over which William III’s horse stumbled, throwing the king and causing a broken collarbone which led to his death. There may also be voles round here, but I’ve never seen one, but no doubt they are very reclusive
We occasionally saw badgers trotting along at night, clicking their strong claws on the road, on their way to dig up gardens in the search of delicious worms. As well as this destructive habit, they then used the holes they made as toilets! We also occasionally see foxes, but we often hear them screaming at night. Some dogs like to role in their poo – fortunately ours doesn’t. I have never seen any stoats or weasels, so I can’t say if there are any around her, but there are plenty of rabbits! Everywhere in the town and country there are mice and rats, and no doubts in the banks of the river and the rhynes (drainage channels) there are water rats which are actually voles not rats. Apart from an all purpose identification of creepy crawlies – butterfly, moth, ladybird, worm, snail, slug, beetle, bug, hover fly, wasp, bee etc, I’m very ignorant of these smaller creatures – but there are a lot of them!
Here is a link to details about walks around the village, lots of pictures to show you how varied our small place is: