Birds and Wildlife at St Lawrence House
Wherever you venture in the grounds of St Lawrence Country Guest House and its surrounds, you will encounter a rich variety of wildlife. During the winter when most outside work is carried out, we saw many birds, some wild mammals, and the tell tale signs of many more creatures who live alongside us. We have now lived here for over three years, and can not only add to the list of birds that visit us, but also begin to build up a picture of the mammals that leave their mark on the landscape.
As you drop down the slope to the left of the pasture, you will come to a copse of trees and shrubs that houses an extensive badger sett. As badgers are shy, mainly nocturnal animals, they are not often seen. We have sighted one, but know they are active by the footprints and droppings that they leave. Hopefully in the not too distant future we plan to put up a video camera in Badger copse, which will play on a viewing screen at the house so that visitors can watch them and their antics.
We have also seen grey squirrels, the fox and, so far, two species of bats. One bat remains unidentified – they are very fast in flight – and the other is a pipistrelle. Frogs have been seen down at the bottom of the field where the stream cuts through the corner, and a guest identified, during the summer, a great green bush cricket near the border with the Ritec Fen. This cricket, though difficult to see because of its grass-green colour, is distinctive as it is large (40-50mm) and has a pronounced brown stripe running over the top of its head and down its back. During late July, August and September afternoons and nights you can hear the shrill buzzing call of the males.
Now, of course, there are many different kinds of bats, frogs and crickets and an abundance of wildlife we do not yet know about including other insects, butterflies and moths, lizards and so on. And don’t get us started on the flora! We are more certain of the trees we have around us as we have recently added 1250 to the already extensive woodland (see What’s New at St Lawrence), but we have not had time to do a survey of wild flowers. Perhaps this is where our guests and other visitors could help, by positively identifying what they see (flora and fauna) and reporting back to us. What better way to keep children occupied than to ask them to grub around in the undergrowth to see what living treasure they can find. Arm them with pencil, paper, and maybe a camera, send them on a hunt, and they will be happy for hours. Not a bad pastime for the adults either!
An updated years’ worth of birds:
robin; magpie; blackbird; blue tit; great tit; jay; wren; wood pigeon; buzzard (actually nesting in the woods); lapwing; owl (heard but unidentified); greater spotted woodpecker; starling; gold finch; bull finch; green finch, sparrow; pied wagtail; yellow wagtail; swallow; house martin; song thrush; chaffinch; siskin; dunnock; skylark; fieldfare; redwing; linnet; pheasant; rook; jackdaw; crow; kestrel; mallard; teal; heron; moorhen; common gull; common tern; herring gull; oyster catcher; bittern (heard by guest, not seen); water rail. (44)
Thanks to Burni and Dave (30/05/2010) we have two more to add to our list, Chiff -Chaffs and Willow Warblers. We also can add kestrals which have nested in the coppice of trees right in front of the house and you can see them waiting to swoop down on there unsuspecting pray. My favorite summer sight is sitting on the bench on the lawn and watching the swollows feeding on the wing in the meadow before you.
New arrival we have seen our first Red Kite. We know they are in mid Wales but this is the first time we have seen them this far south.(25/5/2011)
During this winter 2012 we are pretty sure that we spotted a Harrier hawk.