Red Deer Stag Kills Man

Red Deer Stag Kills Man

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.

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Autumn bushcraft in the Carpathians

Autumn bushcraft in the Carpathians

When I’m at the village house I go to the forest at least twice per day, usually morning to retrieve the trap camera and just before dusk to set it. When I’ve got chance I also like spending the day time wandering about in the woods looking for edible fungi.

This weekend we took the kids in to collect some nice leaves for an art exhibition I’ve got coming up. Whilst there my son found just over half a particularly large lynx skull – sadly not including the teeth. That’s now sitting in a bucket of water and bleach in my garage.

The colours of the forest at this time of year just cannot be explained in words. It’s utterly mesmerizing.

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

While I do love hunting for edible mushrooms, nothing is nicer than finding a fairy ring of Fly Agaric deep in the forest. For many years I harvested them but for the last few (including this year) I’ve preferred just taking photos. With the right preparation they’re edible and medicinal. However, I recommend that no one experiments with wild fungi unless they’ve had some expert training or supervision – death from poisonous fungi is horrific.

Now I just leave them for the pixies….

White-backed Woodpecker?

White-backed Woodpecker?

Whenever I’m alone in the bush, there are several species of birds and animals which always keep me company – the Raven and Lesser Spotted Eagle fly above the trees making their calls (sometimes the eagle flies through the forest and its wing beats send whooshing sounds through the leaves), woodpeckers knock on trees, Jays scream at each other and Red Squirrels jump about playing with their nuts. And of course there are plenty of little tits….

When I was a kid back in England, the sounds were different, with the Wood Pigeon and the Pheasant being the dominant noise makers.

In the area around my house we get multiple species of woodpeckers, and most are easy to identify – the Green, the Grey, the Black, the Lesser Spotted – but there are other species which could be one of several. The woodpecker pictured here is, I believe, a White-backed (Dendrocopos leucotos) as it misses the vertical stripes seen in other species, such as the Greater. Then again, it might not be. If anyone can clear up this matter I would appreciate it.

Fire Salamander

Fire Salamander

I was out in the forest yesterday after the heavy storm the night before. I couldn’t hear any animals due to the sheer amount of water still dropping from the dense canopy above. However, the forest floor was basically crawling with Fire Salamanders (Salamdra salamandra). The one in the photo was about 5 foot off the floor and in a knoll in a tree, hiding under some leaves. I love these little critters.

Adventurous visitors

Adventurous visitors

I’ve just had three friends visit, one old and two new, John, Pete and Tilly, for a long weekend. They drove here from North Wales, which is an exhausting two-day drive each way. Because they were only here for a few days, we tried to pack as much in as possible. We visited the UNESCO town of Bardejov, and the Andy Warhol museum in the remote town of Medzilaborce. We visited the Valley of Death and the the Soviet Memorial in Svidnik. We also headed over the border into to Poland to Magursky National Park, which is home to a bear population. Best of all, we did a long hike carrying unfeasibly heavy packs up a logging trail into the hills, where we camped in the dense Carpathian forest. Luckily, the evening was dry so we could sit around a campfire, but we woke to heavy rain and drenched equipment, which we then had to pack and lug down a now very muddy logging trail back to the house. Thankfully, there were no visits from bears.

We rounded the trip off with a campfire in the garden where we cooked wild boar goulash. A few hours earlier, we’d seen a couple of boars running across the hill at the back of the house.

I really enjoyed myself and I hope they did too.

The woods are alive with the smell of garlic…

The woods are alive with the smell of garlic…

Ah, Spring! Thus far, the only thing growing is copious amounts of extremely aromatic wild garlic. That’s the green stuff on the ground. Lots of uses for it, though – so long as you like garlic. Not much worry about vampires at this time of year, luckily enough. Sometimes, the Carpathians are overrun by the little buggers.