Sunday, March 19, 2017

Take the Lead - Dogs, Sheep and Lambs don't mix!

Sheep grazing on Telscombe Tye
Up on the Downs today and again seeing posters and hearing about recent dog attacks.

Dogs don't have to attack and kill to cause death, injury or illness. Even the most faithful of family pets can kill or injure sheep and lambs and sometimes you don't even realise.

Swaledale ewe and lambs
Even if your dog isn't actually chasing sheep, they still see it as a predator and will run away if it comes close or they feel threatened - putting them under stress.
  • A stressed ewe, can miscarry or abort the unborn lambs hours after the dog has left the area.
  • A ewe that is close to giving birth and is disturbed by a dog, may miscarry, abort or have premature lambs.
  • A sheep can die of stress after it's been chased or run away from a dog.
  • Stressed animals are more susceptible to disease and if they have lambs the growth and quality of the lambs may be affected.
  • New lambs separated from their mother will also die from cold and hunger if they aren't reunited quickly or can be rejected.
As a responsible dog owner and to ensure the safety of livestock, you MUST have your dog under close control or on a lead.

'Close control' - means keeping it close to you at ALL times, when walking near livestock. NOT allowing it to wander off away from you. Even if a dog is not interested in or chasing the sheep it can still stress them.

Close control means a short lead or knowing that you can reliably call it back if it wanders off and ensure it will return immediately!

A dog owner (or person in charge of the dog) has committed an offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 (the act was added to by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) if their dog worries livestock on agricultural land.

Worrying livestock means:

- attacking or chasing livestock where it may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering to livestock, to cause abortion, or cause loss or problems with their produce.

- being at large (i.e. not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.

If you allow your dog to worry livestock or you don't have it under control, your dog could be shot - you could be fined £1000.

Several times I've spoken to dog owners whose dog has run off after sheep and they are totally unable to call it back. Of course they claim it's never done anything like that before or would never attack but the damage has already been done.

If you are not able to control your dog, make sure it's on a short lead when around livestock, especially pregnant ewes or ewes with young lambs.

Several sheep and lambs have been killed by dogs getting out of their garden. If you let your dog out unattended, make sure it can't get out.

Farmers spend all year looking after their sheep and rely on their lambs for their livelihood. Don't allow your family pet to be the cause of the death of a sheep or lamb.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Frogspawn 2017

This year's batch of frogspawn appeared today. Almost a couple of weeks earlier than last year. Perhaps because it hasn't been as cold this year.

There's a frog in there as well, judging by the plop as I get close.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Big Garden Birdwatch 2017

It's been quiet this year, over the Winter and in the run up to the weekend's Big Garden Birdwatch. Not seeing many of the regular species that used to turn up at the feeders - particularly chaffinch, greenfinch and goldfinch.

Perhaps because we've had milder winters or they're put off by the neighbour cats visiting the garden far too frequently or more worrying because of their decline in species numbers. I rarely see a greenfinch these days and goldfinches are certainly less frequent visitors. I used to see them almost daily.

On a positive note, perhaps more people are feeding their garden birds so they have more choice.

Feeder contains fat balls, fatty nibbles, sunflower hearts (saves the mess), dried mealworms and a bird table mix.

Species count:

House sparrow 8
Starling 3
Blackbird 1
Blue Tit 2
Robin 1
Dunnock 1
Magpie 1
Goldcrest 1

Total species 8

Won't count the wood pigeon feathers I found the following day. Yet another cat attack. No corpse found this time, so it may have got away with a few feathers missing.

Good to see the house sparrow family turning up. They're the most consistent these days along with visiting blue tits - usually 2-3 and the starlings demolish the fat balls pretty quickly.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Winter blackcap

A regular winter visitor but the first one I've seen in the garden this year, despite the frequent cold snaps. I daresay this one won't hang around until the #BigGardenBirdwatch this weekend.

This is the first time I've seen one on the fat balls - one will usually visit the seed feeders and sometimes stay around for a few days, especially if it's very cold. It didn't stay long on this occasion having been chased off by the robin.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Special Branch

First task of the year and out with Special Branch up at Stanmer Organics. Great turnout all round with nine of us turning up, despite the cold and recent snow, although not too much left on the ground.

Raised beds - Special Branch, Stanmer
Rebuilding two raised beds, further along from where we were working previously.

With nine of us we made quick work of it but only two people able to work on replacing the stakes holding up the boards.

Rebuilding the raised beds.
Took a timely break in the polytunnel for lunch when it started raining.

As there were enough of us, we also set about trimming the overgrown willows either side of the polytunnel, adding the trimmings to the dry brush hedge along the edge of the wood.

So three tasks completed, rather than just the planned one ... and we finished early.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

January walk along the South Downs

Lovely walk on the South Downs from the Jack and Jill windmills along to Ditchling Beacon and a loop return via the Chattri monument.

Early rain showers cleared and it was warmer than the past few days with lovely views to Brighton and the coast.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

... and a partridge in a pear tree

A covey of 18 red-legged partridge turned up this afternoon. Emerging one by one from the hedge to feed below the feeders for several minutes and then disappearing back the way they came.

No doubt escaping from the nearby shoot and not yet destined to end up on the Christmas table.