A 78 year old man from Prievidza (a town in the west of Slovakia) has died in hospital a week after being attacked by a stag. Apparently, it was a spontaneous attack as the man tended his orchard – the stag charged and skewered him with its antlers. More can be read here – noviny.sk – Stag Kills Man
Deaths from stag attacks are relatively rare, usually only one every so many years. Most often they’re during rutting season when people approach stags because they’re just standing still and not running away (which is because their brains are addled by rampant hormones). My kids and I were charged by one in the forest several years back and we had to hide behind a tree while it went berserk. 99.99% of the time the stag just flees though.
Note – the picture isn’t mine, it’s from the newspaper.
Here’s another species to add to my attic menagerie, and one I wasn’t expecting to find – the Common Shrew (Sorex araneus). I’ve found them frozen to death in my kitchen during winter before but I’ve no idea how it got into the attic.
I’ve had several encounters of the painful variety with these little beasts in the past. Being insectivores rather than herbivores, they bite. They may be tiny but every time I’ve tried to pick one up I’ve ended up with a bloody finger. I once found a very sad sight – a dead mother shrew with a horde of tiny bald, pink babies still trying to suckle her. I can’t even begin to describe how miniscule they were.
This year we’ve had many Smooth snakes (Coronella austriaca) – they seem to have replaced the Slow Worm although they don’t eat slugs. They’re non-venomous and nowhere near as aggressive as Grass snakes. From a distance they’re colouring and pattern make them appear as Adders but upon closer inspection they can be easily differentiated due to round pupils, a horizontal facial stripe passing through the eye, smooth skin and a double dot patten rather than a diamond or zig zag running the length of their spine.
One thing I really love about living where I do is the wide open spaces which enable one to see amazing sunsets. I can’t imagine living in a concrete jungle where the horizon is only a few metres away. It doesn’t matter how many times I see the sunset I’m still amazed at the beauty of nature.
The photo shows the effect of a chunk of bread thrown into the River Ladomirka – a fish feeding frenzy.
I also started the process of getting my fishing license so i can fish around my village. The bureaucracy is really off-putting and requires visits to several offices for various permissions, plus it’s fairly expensive in local terms. I’m not a freshwater fisherman but getting away from it all might help to induce the writing of a new book.
This was a particularly friendly Fallow deer (Dama dama) buck we encountered as an attraction at an unusual location. The owners of a former brothel, in quite a remote village,, obviously decided to change their ‘theme’ and keep Fallow deer in order to attract visitors. Unfortunately, their business plan doesn’t seem to be working as, like us, people just stop, take photos and then leave. The owner was annoyed that we didn’t want drinks.
I had to wipe deer saliva from my camera lens after this as the young buck decided to give it a good licking. Poor thing was being terrorized by horseflies as well.
Even though this is an annual occurrence, it’s still something that fills me with dread – a White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) inspecting my chimney. As they’re protected, if they decide to build a nest on the chimney then they can’t be moved and I’d have to wait until they’ve returned to warmer climes before I can get rid of it – which is a long time to go without a fire. This particular stork is a bit late with nest building as others already have young. I’m hoping it’s not the insane one from a couple of years back who woke me up in the early morning by hammering its giant beak against my 2nd floor French doors or who was repeatedly seen in the cemetery hammering away at gravestones.
The other reason i don’t like them anywhere near my roof is they leave the black tiles looking like someone pelted them with buckets of ice cream. They’re very, very big birds (4-feet tall) and they produce a lot of waste…
The Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) produces my favourite bird song – it gives a tropical or Australian-like sound to the garden. They only migrate for a couple of months each year and will shortly be leaving, much earlier than other migratory species. I’ve been trying for years to get a photo of one but they never seem to sit still long enough, plus they prefer the higher branches of trees.
After an extremely stressful day, we decided to go for a ride on Feisty. We went to a beautiful little hidden spot which has a bar and trout ponds out in the countryside. The place was empty apart from us and a pretty young blonde barmaid who kept hidden inside. A metal, Japanese-like bridge crossed the ponds and, along with various bird song, the occasional splash of trout jumping could be heard.
Two Red Backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) flirted with one another as the sun began to set. An extremely peaceful place that I was reluctant to leave. I really need to cleanse my thoughts and achieve a much more spiritual, natural state of mind before I start work on my film project. The real world keeps kicking that down, though. Very frustrating.