I finally realized another of my life’s ambitions whilst on one of our evening walks outside the village. My wife and I spotted a small herd of Red deer hinds and fawns on one of the hillsides and they bolted into the forest. Thinking they’d picked up our scent we carried on walking. 20 minutes later on our return journey we spotted a wolf break the forest line and lope its way up the hill – with a deer leg in its maw. That was one seriously fresh kill.
The closest I’ve ever gotten to photographing a wolf was catching one’s tail as it ran past my trail camera. Usually, and it happens extremely rarely, if we see one we only get a few seconds before it disappears into thick brush. Seeing a wolf in the wild is an incredible experience, definitely a spiritual one. Living where we do there’s also no confusing wolves with the tame image portrayed in the West. While I’ve never heard of one attacking a human, they are still extremely big dogs which survive by killing even bigger prey. They are perfected killing machines – and the absolute symbol of freedom in Nature.
Sometimes at night I hear the screams of deer being eaten alive from the forest and it’s very disturbing. This year there are plenty of Red deer but virtually no Roe. A single Lynx needs to kill around 60 of them per year to survive. We see a lot of sadness where I live. This Roe hind lives in the long grass behind my fence and until a few weeks back she had a tiny fawn with her. Now she’s alone. Even using human habitation for safety wasn’t enough to protect her young.
There are also quite a few Wild Boar about this year, something we haven’t seen for a couple of years now. However, with the recent outbreak of African Swine Plague it’s likely that there will be a big cull and their numbers will dwindle again. Now these do scare the shit out of me when I encounter them – far more so than wolf.
One thing we do have to keep on top of is making sure the garden grass is cut short as there are plenty of snakes about. This Adder, the venomous European Viper, was probably caught by a Stork judging by its neck wound but dropped. When the grass gets too long we can’t see them, and that’s a tad disconcerting.
As we’re dealing with wood piles a lot this year we keep encountering various snakes, but there’s one reptile I always like to discover, and some years we don’t see them at all – the slow worm. It’s a sign of a very healthy environment, plus they keep the slugs down.