Tues 24th Sept 2013

There’s a lot happened since I last spoke to you and I’ve got a few good stories to tell you. The first one is about a buzzard.

I was out on safari up on Exmoor on 4th August with a lovely group of people. It was a pretty wet day but we did see quite a lot of deer so it was a good day in all. Well, when we got back to Riverside Caravan Park near South Molton where we meet up, someone came running over saying, “Quick, quick Johnny. Come and look over here.”

I went over to them and they told me there was a buzzard sitting in the road. By the time we got to where they’d seen it, it had gone into a patch of brambles. It was raining hard but I could see it in there, a young buzzard all soaking wet. I guessed immediately what the problem was, its feathers were waterlogged and it couldn’t take off.

Well, I managed to catch the poor thing and I took it home and put it in my office. That’s when the fun really began because it flitted around and messed everywhere. Then I had to think about what I was going to feed it. The last time I took a buzzard in I fed it on road kill but someone kicked up a real fuss about it. I don’t know why because I do believe they eat road kill. You often see them sitting on top of a post by a roadside and I’m sure they looking out for a pheasant or rabbit that’s been knocked down by a car. Anyway, I decided to go off to the butcher and get him some liver. He liked this and ate it from the back of my chair.

The next day he had dried out and I took him up to the land and put him in one of my large nesting boxes. It was still raining but at least he was in the dry. I wasn’t quite sure what to do next so I rang some friends and they said to take him back to where he’d been found, so I did.

About 400m from the spot I caught him was a field with a big tree in so I thought that would be a good place to release him. I took him over to the tree and threw him up into the air. He landed in the tree then flew into the nearby wood. Within a couple of minutes there were two adult buzzards flying overhead calling. The young buzzard answered them and they all flew away together. It was a wonderful moment.

There is a photo I took of the buzzard at the end of this blog so you can see what he looked like when I brought him home.

My next story is a funny one. I was at North Devon Show with Exmoor Zoo back in August. I’ve been doing talks at the zoo over the summer holiday as I think I’ve told you before. I’ll be there again next year and I’m really looking forward to it.

While I was on the stand at the show a couple that I know very well came over to talk to me and tell me about something that had just happened to them. As they walked through the show they saw a deer and one of them was convinced it was looking at her. It had its head tilted to the side and as she walked closer it still appeared to be gazing at her. It seemed really tame so she went up really close and put out her hand to stroke the deer and only then realised that it was stuffed.  We did laugh when she told me about it.

Another funny story is about a lady I met at Rutland Water Bird Fair. When I’m out and about people often ask to have their photo taken with me and this lady wanted her husband to take one me standing beside her. She got up very close and said, “Can I put my arm around you.” I told her that was fine and said that I wondered what she might say next. She replied, “I’ve got a headache.” I was rather surprised as she was such a quiet sort of lady but it did make me chuckle.

My last story is something that might amaze you. It happened to a chap I know at Exmoor Zoo as he was feeding some of the animals. Part of the food he put down was some whole eggs. The next thing he knew, two rats appeared and proceeded to steal one of the eggs. And this is the incredible bit. One of the rats rolled over and pulled an egg onto its belly. The other rat grabbed the first rat’s tail and pulled him along like a sledge and they got away with the egg. I’ve heard about this before but never seen it myself. What an amazing thing.

I’m still working on the new hide I’ve made out of my old chariot. It’s looking good down by the pond and I’m just waiting for a bit more wood to finish it. I saw some wild boar down there back at the end of August, the first I’d seen for a while and there have been six babies about.

Sadly I’ve heard of at least one sow and a baby being shot. I know this is going to happen as they can do a lot of damage to land and they are good for the pot. It’s when they are shot but only wounded that I get really upset as I’ve seen a few running round injured which is distressing.

I’ve been lucky enough to see some roe deer does and calves recently as well. One was up on the land and the other out in the road just two weeks ago. This doe had two very small, late season calves. I waited to see them get off the road safely. Let’s hope the beginning of winter is mild to give them a chance of making it through.

Before I go I must tell you about Widecombe Fair down on Dartmoor. I’d not been for five years and would like to thank Phil and Ann for letting me go this year. It was lovely to see lots of old friends. I sold quite a few DVD’s and books and had a great night out over a few pints of cider.

Well the rutting season is nearly with us again and I expect I’ll have something to tell you about that next time. See you again soon.