Have your say on rural issues.
I was amazed by Sara Maitland’s remarks on greeting strangers on a country walk. I walk my dog, Patch, every morning, wet or fine, along the narrow towpath beside the Wey Navigation. I would never meet anyone – be they other walkers (with or without a dog), joggers or even cyclists – without passing some comment, be it about the weather, the muddy track, or something I’ve spotted in the nearby meadows. Very rarely will I not get an answer, and possibly a longer chat, and even cyclists usually acknowledge my standing to one side holding on to the dog.
Many locals use the path, so it’s not as if I actually know them all. Margaret May Godalming, Surrey
MORE EXMOOR WILDCATS
I was very interested to read about George R Featherstone’s Exmoor wildcats (April issue).
I live in north-east Dartmoor and, while leading a guided walk in Gidleigh Woods beside the River Teign, saw what was very obviously a genuine wildcat with the characteristic bushy tail with black tip and larger than a normal cat.
I reported it to the Devon Wildlife Trust, who said they had received other sightings on Dartmoor and thought it could possibly have escaped or been released by an owner. Martin Stephens Hodge Okehampton, Devon
I was very disappointed to see you choosing to publish such an unsuitable feature in the February issue titled ‘Where to survive the apocalypse’. Such a ridiculous and depressing feature has no place in BBC Countryfile Magazine and it was given eight precious pages! I cannot imagine many readers would be interested in this random and wild vision as to what could happen; the probability is so slim and not something I want to see in any future magazine.
Besides this feature, I do enjoy reading the magazine very much. We love the countryside, walking many areas of the British Isles in all seasons and exploring new villages and coastlines. Please keep on subject. Thank you. Andrew McWilliam, via email
I am at the end of my tether. We moved into our dream family home over two years ago, and have never had a lawn since. We are plagued by badgers destroying our lawn.
We treat our lawn every spring and autumn with nematodes to get rid of the grubs, we have tried noise emitters and pir lights, but still they come.
We have an almost two-year-old boy who wants to play on the lawn but can’t and he has a little sister on the way and it looks like she won’t be able to have a garden to play on either. Do you have any recommendations? Mike Toone, Halesowen Editor Fergus Collins responds: I remember something similar from a friend’s garden when I lived (long ago) in Bristol. There wasn’t an easy solution as the badgers were strong enough to break open or dig under wooden fences, and chain-link fences buried underground seemed like overkill. Badgers are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act so you can’t use chemical repellents, traps or anything that may harm them. Some people recommend chillies or human urine as a natural deterrent. I have not tried either.
In the end we joined our friends in regular badger-watching evenings that delighted us and the children.
Each morning, when I am getting dressed, a sparrow taps on the bedroom window. It sits on the shed roof between tapping sessions. The fact that I am moving around does not deter it. There is no mirror in the room to create a reflection. I do not see it when using the room at other times of the day. This has been going on for several weeks. There are lots of other birds using the garden but this is the only one exhibiting this type of behaviour. Is there a possible explanation? Pat Scott, via email BBC Wildlife Magazine’s features editor Ben Hoare responds: For a few weeks this March, a carrion crow was doing the same thing every morning in my garden, leaving our patio windows splattered in blood.
It’s quite common behaviour in spring, probably because birds are so focused on setting up territories and chasing off rivals. When they see their reflection in the glass, it seems to drive them wild.
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has some tips on how to deter birds from doing this – go to bto.org and search for ‘windows’.
A robin challenges its own reflection, thinking it is a rival bird. Could this explain why some birds attack windows?