We should have been opening the garden to the public for the National Gardens Scheme today. Current pandemic restrictions make that impossible. Instead we were greeted with a delightful surprise.
Every year in May, without fail for at least the last ten years, we are visited by a pair of wild Mallard Ducks. They arrive, live in the garden for a month, then disappear. Just the one pair, visiting Sennicotts – where there is no running water. We have no idea where they come from, why they decided Sennicotts, nor where they go.
We have been trying to practice wildlife-friendly-gardening partly because it seems the right thing to do but far more because there is something absurdly rewarding when the wild chooses the patch you have looked after to hang out.
The Mallards came this year as usual and once again appeared to have left towards the end of May. Or so we thought … until an early morning visit to the walled garden today…
A huge amount of excellent comment has been made about the pros and cons of the Coronavirus lock down. I don’t think at this time I have anything particularly new to say other than to add my thanks to the NHS staff in particular.
It is humbling to be a human at this time. I am personally enjoying the freedom which comes from this part of the experience.
In the natural world prey uses sight, sound and smell to detect the presence of the predator. I have always wondered how much of an advantage the predator is given by the addition of near constant background noise generated by our modern life. Human’s noise becoming a predator’s sound camouflage and putting prey at a disadvantage.
What will the natural world make of the humans putting life and much of their noise on hold?
To give a little insight into the audio of the natural world when the humans are taking a break here is the dawn chorus at 05:40 this morning at Sennicotts.
In 2019 the fence alongside the B2178, opposite Oakwood, was replaced. The previous wooden post and barbed wire fence had reached the end of its life having suffered the effects of the elements, vehicle crashes, deer strikes and falling timber.
The replacement fencing is a stock-proof 1.2m X-fence galvanised product supported by the Clipex post and strainer system.
This fencing system had been tested in a short run for cost of installation, durability, effectivness and of course aesthetic properties.
As with any cap-ex decision we were wanting to satisfy a number of criteria to the greatest level of return. Aesthetic being only one weighted criteria. Other criteria included:
Durability of materials to the ravages of the english climate
Flexibility and speed of installation
Strength and safety
Ability to contain stock of all sizes, from lambs to cattle
Safety – design to prevent lambs getting heads stuck
Effectiveness at reducing deer migrating across B2178 and causing accidents
It turns out this fence evokes quite different reactions from users of the B2178. Much like marmite the feedback has been starkly opposing. With responses ranging from it being used as a landmark (“where that smart fence is”) to “I don’t like it, why?”
Understandably these responses focus primarily on the aesthetic, with a trend for those in favour to see the aesthetic in a positive light when there is a natural appreciation of the function.
Like all things, the aesthetic will undoubtedly change over time through weathering and vegetation growth. Perhaps all that will be left to appreciate then is the function, less dead deer, and far fewer car parts being recovered from the field.