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In your field: Rachel Coates - 'One farm cat returned home missing a couple of items'

As spring approaches and the local amateur wildlife photographers start dusting off their cameras, the requests to come and photograph on the land start to come in.

We are not keen at all, as no matter how long the lens, disturbance of wildlife is inevitable. Generally the worst culprits are those with their own social media pages and a fancy watermark to match.

 

Of course, they are perfectly entitled to take photographs from the footpath, but it does not seem to be enough for some.

 

As well as the barn owls, which I have previously mentioned, we have plenty of other interesting species inhabiting the farm and surrounding moorland.

 

However, we have seen in the past year how much humans can deter wildlife, so better the odd chance sighting than none at all.

 

Another interesting species which inhabits the farm, although not wildlife, is the domestic cat. There are about 10 cats in the hamlet, ranging from pampered Siamese down to our moggy ratters, Gin and Whisky.

 

They are a pair of ginger brothers, sadly no longer tom cats since the most adventurous one strayed a field too far and attracted attention from someone at a local riding stable.

 

Assuming him to be stray, despite being well fed, although sporting a few scratches from the occasional tussle with his brother, he was whisked off to the vets to be neutered. I hope they didn’t hope to keep him as a pet, because he soon came back home, no doubt not being too keen on his experience.

 

We had noted his absence for a couple of days, but it was a bit of a surprise to find he had returned missing a couple of items.


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The balance of power now totally out of kilter, it was causing a few more fights so we had to have the other brother dealt with in the same manner. Although I was assured it would not diminish their ratting prowess, it did for a while.

 

It is therefore very fortunate we retain the pest controlling services of Dave our rat man. His resolve against vermin comes from when he was a boy and spent a lot of his youth bird watching and building nesting boxes, one being home to a pair of blackbirds.

 

Having grown attached to these birds, he was horrified to see their nest destroyed by magpies. So, instead of looking down the lens of binoculars, he started looking down the sights of an air rifle.

 

The cats are starting to regain their hunting habits a little bit, but are often very content to follow Dave around and pick up an easy meal, although he tells me he watches the cats to find out where the rats are.

 

The three of them are the reason we now do not use any rat bait anywhere on-farm. This is something we are very happy about as it means no rodenticide resistance and no accidental poisoning of wildlife or domestic pets.

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