Here are a few photographs taken from our recent holiday. Firstly, the ponies which the New Forest is famous for. They are all "wild-ish" but many are used to people and the ones in Burley itself will stand to be petted and posed with. There was one youngster, probably a 2 yr old, laid flat out asleep in the Burley car park, literally being crawled over by half dozen kids, all having their photo taken. Now if the Health and Safety brigade had noticed that, the ponies would all be shut away somewhere . . .
There are many fewer ponies on the Forest after recent re-organization, the stallions have been culled, only the better ones used, and only turned out for a few months in the summer to cover mares. There are fewer foals - many of which went for the meat trade - and prices should be better. However, there are a LOT more cattle on the Forest now. When I was a kid you would hardly ever see cattle, though of course there were plenty of pigs turned out for pannage each autumn, to clear up the millions of acorns. Acorns are poisonous to ponies, causing Vitamin B deficiency and ultimately death, but the ponies ignore the health risks and many have a real taste for them, as indeed my three horses did here, resulting in the chore of having to go round and pick up ALL the acorns each autumn - and we have half a dozen big oak trees on our land.
Two donkeys "parked" in the car park at Burley. They looked really cheesed off! I love the stripey legs of the darker grey donkey. My lovely Arab Fahly had stripey legs too, on his forearms.
Isn't he beautiful? This little chap, probably about 6 months or so old, came round every evening just before dusk. He got the shock of his life one night when there was Another Fox on the lawn already - a cooty old thing with mange. In this photo, he had just spotted the older fox and a few moments later, turned tail and was next seen crossing the paddocks beyond the garden. He turned up every night we were house-sitting. When we let the dogs out last thing, they would "trail" every step the foxes had taken . . .
The rabbits would come out a little earlier in the evening to browse. They were totally unconcerned by the possibility of predators . . .
The nut-nets were very popular with the birds, and despite being squirrel-proof, the visiting squirrel seems very undeterred. Sometimes the Jays and Yaffles would swoop by too.
Both Greater-Spotted and Lesser-Spotted Woodpeckers visited the nut net. This is the Lesser Spotted and I had never seen one until staying at Ann's house. There were also two families of Green Woodpeckers nesting either side of the garden which set up a tremendous fuss if yuo walked near their nests! The Hampshire (Wessex really) name for Green woodpeckers is "Yaffles" on account of their laughter-like call.