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Posts Tagged ‘porcupine’

Rosemary in flower

January 5, 2013 Leave a comment
Rosemary flower braving the frost

Rosemary flower braving the frost

I haven’t been outside much lately owing to back problems, but I couldn’t bear to disappoint Joules any more.

He loves it when I venture forth, whether it’s to garden or just look round; he positively skips with excitement.

I found that the wild boars (probably, although it could be a particularly energetic porcupine) have dug an enormous hole in the bank where the garden slopes down, undermining a lavender bush.

Just above this excavation, I noticed that the rosemary, despite other flowers turning brown due to the frost, is producing pretty pale blue flowers.

If old wives’ tales are to be believed, that means my ascendancy over Clive (ha, ha) is still going strong.

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Rustling in the night

June 19, 2012 Leave a comment

For three nights in a row there’s been a rustling at the top of the bank just outside the window.

I heard it first when I was taking Kepler out for his late-night bathroom run, and dashed in to get a torch. Although the rustling didn’t stop, I never saw anything. The second night was much the same.

Last night I was a bit more cunning. I crept down the back wall where there’s no intruder light and switched the torch on suddenly.

Lo and behold there were two porcupines.

Porcupine with crest lowered

Presumably because they felt threatened, their crests were up, making them look like ships in full sail among the bushes. They scurried off down the slope into the valley.

It would have been a male and a female – apparently they’re monogamous.

I can’t think what the attraction was at the top of the bank. They might find a few tulip bulbs but not six-porcupine-nights’-worth of them!

Mysterious hole

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

On a walk with the dogs today to an area of steep hillside near the house where I rarely go, I came across a hole.

The mysterious hole

It didn’t immediately strike me as being an animal’s den because its main thrust, so to speak, was vertically down rather than horizontally into the bank.

I had a walking stick with me and I prodded into the dead leaves at the bottom: it didn’t seem to go anywhere.

The strange thing was that, just before finding the hole, I’d noticed, as if marking out its location, 4 saplings snapped off near the top with the broken part left dangling. This was no coincidence and definitely the work of a human.

So what was some surreptitious hunter signposting, either for his own purposes or those of someone else?

Did it mean that the hole itself was the work of a human and if so, what could it possibly be for? Hiding-place for contraband? Wine cooler?

Alternatively, it might have been made by an animal, and the hunter had left signs so he could find it again.

It could have been dug by a wild boar. The pits they scraped in the vegetable garden looking for truffles were deep and neat. But their visit was characterised by multiple holes: in fact they fair honeycombed the ground. This was just one hole.

Porcupines dig burrows, but they would have gone deeper. They also sleep during daylight hours in tunnels of bent grasses, but this was far too laboured to be a casual resting-place.

I’m mighty puzzled.

Violin at sunset

August 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Sunset with Mount Subasio in the right background

With no pressure to be ready by 9.00 pm for a film or serial on the telly, we found ourselves sitting outside last night as it got dark. I was playing the violin (very badly) making use of the movement-activated outside light, which needed to be reactivated every so often, in order to read my music.

I felt sure I could hear the sound echoing from the hillside. It would make sense, because there is quite a loud echo in that spot. 

I did definitely set our nearest neighbour’s dogs off barking. Fortunately ours were too busy with ritualistic mock-fighting on the gravel nearby to respond.

Our youngest dog, Taylor, normally accompanies me at some point with a series of prolonged, exultant paeans of sound, but for some reason he never does this outside.

Perhaps he’s too intent listening for night sounds: distant trot of wild boar, rattle of porcupine, though he must have difficulty hearing anything past the vibrant shimmer of the crickets.

The sun set as a vermilion smear behind Mount Subasio. We didn’t clink glasses, but, uncharacteristically, I opened a bottle of white wine to have with dinner.

Darker nights

November 3, 2008 Leave a comment

The clocks going back an hour really make a big difference here – particularly when combined with the extreme speed of sunset. I was sat outside on our bench at 4pm watching the dogs play on the gravel drive; 30 minutes later it was pitch black.

My wife grumbles at the expense of the driveway lights. I had a dozen put up with 6 of them being double-headed. I realise that this uses a lot of electricity (although they all have saver bulbs) when you run them from sunset to 11pm but it does send out a message to hunters and other trespassers to keep off. It also goes some way towards scaring off wild animals until at least well into the night.

I’m very conscious of how isolated we are out here.  Although this part of Italy is quiet on the lawbreaking front (well as quiet as anywhere is, these days), we are a fair way away from anyone else and I remember what it was like when I had my house in England broken into by a gang of junkies. It was my then girlfriend’s birthday and I copped a brick in the face breaking my nose. The dogs scare off most Italians so that helps.

As I think I put in other posts, I could happily play my saxophone here at 2am and I doubt anyone would hear me.

The dogs made a racket last night chasing some animal down the drive. We couldn’t see or be certain of what it was but my guess is that it was a porcupine. There is a hollow down in the lower orchard where one sleeps at night so it could well be him. Pascal, the dog that died, had a run-in with one. He came back to us with a spine just below his eye. Apparently when cornered, the porcupine can fire off his quills and woe-betide you if you are in range (as Pascal found out).

Yes, it’s great fun dog-hunting at 3am when all you know of their location is a distant growling and woofing. We try not to let them out that late but it’s hard to separate a ‘call of nature’ from a desire for a moonlight adventure.

I often lie in bed listening to the owls hooting, often closely-followed by some poor creature’s shriek of surprise as it is swept up by the bird’s talons. Sentimentality is to be avoided, though – the last thing we need is to be over-run by voles and mice. Let the owls, buzzards and snakes have them.