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RICHARD WILLIAMSON: It’s a grand life with nature as a neighbour...

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A reader took this photograph through his kitchen window of a muntjac deer and a cock pheasant eyeballing one another.

Corn had been thrown down on the lawn and both wanted first helping. The apple could be eaten later.

It just shows you how tame wild birds and animals become if given the chance to relax.

Even buzzards can become confiding.

This morning one flew across my front window as I sat watching the 8am news. In my youth such a thing would have been unthinkable.

It was so close I could see the mottled dark and ginger-brown feathers on its back. The wing feathers seemed enormous.

Everybody with a bird table in the garden knows the pleasure of having birds waiting to be fed.

‘My’ robin is standing outside on the rosebush at first light, waiting for me to stop messing about with the teapot and get his food ready.

Charlie the cock pheasant, whose ancestors lived in the Caucasian mountains where life was quite different, stands at first light by the oak tree thinking that humans are not so dangerous as his genetic

code tells him, but only if I wear the same old jacket and trousers and do not have a hat. If I wear a hat, he will disappear.

The wren knows me and will come and bathe in a pail of water next to me. He is protected from drowning by a large twig on which he squats comfortably.

I often see him 20 yards away, shaking his wings in anticipation as he quickly slides through the bushes until he is at my side. Last year I tamed a great tit to take crumbs from my hand.

He would perch on my little finger with his black claws gripping my skin.

A ring-neck cock pheasant was so tame he would run up to me from 50 yards away and gulp corn from my palm. Normally birds become imprinted on humans if that is the first living creature they see as they come out of the shell.

Conrad Lorenz, the German scientist, couldn’t escape the greylag geese and ravens that waited for him to appear at dawn and be fed then go for long walks with him.

To escape them he had to dress in women’s clothes and speak English, not German.

Even so, the ravens knew what his boat looked like from two miles away if he tried to have a sail on the Rhine by himself.

They would call glad cries as it appeared among all the other shipping and sail down to him in two minutes.

From my kitchen window I watch a roe doe every day, wandering slowly through the coppice, taking bramble leaves. I have fed bank voles from my hand, given shelter to dunnocks, robins, blackbirds and blue tits for their nests on the sides of this house and even called tawny owls out of the forest when they will howl to me by the back door.

What a rude awakening wild creatures often get when properties change hands and friends are suddenly foes.

 

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