The Countryside About Us: May 1992

posted 29 Apr 2012, 08:30 by James Mansell
The owl nesting box has been in position for a year or two now, firmly fixed some twenty five feet above the ground, to the exact specifications of the Hawk Trust.  I thought it must be irresistible to any passing barn owl. For many months I looked in vain for any sign of habitation. Imagine then my delight when a feathered occupant took possession. I confess, however, I would have preferred a barn owl to the pair of jackdaws that have claimed it for themselves.

On a sunny spring morning there is no better place to be than coming towards Earl Soham along Church Lane. It is best to be walking with a dog or even drifting along, as I was, behind a lazy pony pulling her cart or maybe free wheeling down the slope on a bicycle. Which ever way, glimpses of the village through the trees would give promise to a stranger of a pleasant place ahead. The name “Soham” means “marshy” and of course the Meres confirm this to be true.  Nowadays they only add a greater variety of habitat to the meadows and arable land which make up our rural parish.

But even sunny spring mornings can reveal the darker side of nature. I was rather puzzled to see, a little way ahead on that same road, a stoat dragging something along firmly held in its teeth. As I drew nearer, the stoat abandoned the task and vanished into the roadside grassy verge. Remaining on the road was a very large, and very dead, brown rat that it had relinquished! Glancing behind me as I drew further away from the corpse, the stoat reappeared, grabbed its potential lunch and vanished once again into the long grass.

Green hedgerows line our lanes again. The swallows have returned from Africa and zoom above us and the sun shines warmly. Can any month compare with May?

Roger Sykes