Nocturnal visitors

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There have been many incidences of finding cat stools in our rear garden over the years. Having these nocturnal visitors is somewhat of a nuisance as far as I am concerned. It isn’t so much the visitor, it’s what they leave in their wake and the fact that I have to clean up after them. Cats however like to bury their waste deposits which is even worse and for two reasons. Firstly, unless I have noticed the burial there is always the possibility that I could dig it up by accident then have to clean up the mess. Secondly, cats don’t give a hoot where they dig up the ground and often leave more of a mess in spreading soil all over the place. I am glad to say that nocturnal visits by cats has become, at least for the time being, less frequent. A few mornings ago I noticed many very small patches of grass had been dug up on the lawn and a couple of large black stools lying on the grass. Now I know cats don’t usually dig up lawns, they prefer digging in soil as it is easier. Typical of cats to be that lazy. I wondered what animal or bird could be responsible. Our garden is visited by a variety of birds, some of which could have been responsible for digging up the lawn, Jackdaws for example. They dig for moss to line their nests and moss is something our lawn has. I have been treating the lawn for that reason lately. However, late Summer or early Autumn isn’t the nesting season but then I thought they may have been digging for worms in the moist ground. It is possible but I have doubts about that. The reason I say that is the digging happens at night and apart from the owls in the area, all other birds would be asleep. So although the digging could still have been done by birds I have doubts about it. Now I also know that squirrels like to bury some of their food, storing it for harder times in the Winter but again I don’t think squirrels would be out and about when it is dark. They like their sleep just as we do and besides, they would be prey to any of the owls we hear after nightfall. Mice I think we can rule out, they just don’t dig holes in grass, especially at night! There is only one other possibility, foxes. We do have foxes hereabouts, we have seen them and heard them, oft-times in the night. One morning recently and still while it was dark, I happened to be looking out of my bedroom window which overlooks the rear garden and could just about see the outline of an animal on the garden wall. There was very little light but I could tell that it wasn’t a cat, unless it was a very large one. In seconds it moved behind the trees and I lost sight of it. I am almost certain it was a fox. I think therefore that our nocturnal visitor is almost certainly a fox. I looked around the garden perimeter searching for an access point. I know foxes can leap over high walls if they have the space to do it but they usually take easier routes. There are only a couple of places around the garden which make access that easier and they are both in the same corner of the garden, in the corner behind the holly tree in this picture…

This is a picture of the same corner taken some years ago during Winter…

On the other side of the wall where the lower wall meets the tall one behind the Sycamore tree left of centre the ground is high and just on the other side of the tree in the high wall there is a gap. At this time the ground on the other side of the wall  is filled with fallen branches and access through it has been rendered almost impossible, even for cats. The small gap in the wall would only allow small animals through, even foxes and I suspected this was the access point. I have fitted some chicken wire over the gap and now have to see if  my lawn will remain free of dung!

Shirley Anne

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