Living in the heart of the country means we have quite a lot of different animals, birds, insects, reptiles to contend with.
The first 'visitor' was brought to the patio by my tom cat, Pompey. I was sitting on the sofa looking out of the patio doors musing on what I could plant in our raised flower bed when to my surprise he appeared round the corner of the cottage with something large and green hanging out of both sides of his mouth. I went out to investigate - and yes, I admit it, to yell at him - and he dropped a massive lizard. I grabbed him, shot inside the house and shut the door.
Luckily the estate gardener was to hand and he managed to persuade it away from the house. In fact Lionel, as I called him, shot down the drainage hole in the patio where he stayed for well over half an hour, obviously collecting himself from the terrible experience of being grabbed by a cat.
Over the next 45 minutes I watched him slowly and incredibly carefully, extricate himself. First his head, then his shoulders, then a front leg, then the other front leg, then the body and in two quick moves, the rest of his body and tail. He then rested a little more before making his way slowly towards the back gate. Unfortunately when he got through the gate he took a rather nasty tumble down two steps, but he was free and off and away into the undergrowth.
It was very interesting to watch and although I have a wealth of experience with small gecko lizards - in fact Gregory Gecko has just finished a three day indoor visit and gone off outside this afternoon, however Little Gordon is still somewhere in the study waiting his turn on the computer - this was the first large one I had seen close up.
They are very colourful and are actually protected in Portugal so Pompey was told in no uncertain terms not to get him again which did not stop him pestering Lionel when he discovered he was living in one of the drainage tunnels by our garaging. Not seen him for some months so hopefully he has moved away from the irritating feline.
Shortly after this it was the turn of the female cat, Pansy, to do a David Attenborough but this time with a bat!
As I was dropping off to sleep one night, I vaguely felt something flutter past my head but thought it was a moth or something so fell asleep only to be woken at 2.30am by the classic sounds of a cat climbing curtains. I got up, put the lights on to investigate and found Pansy prowling the floor and Pompey half way up the curtains. The usual verbal debate ensued and then I saw what was going on. It was a baby bat flying blindly around the house. After much swearing (me at the cats, them at me for spoiling their fun) I got them trapped in the bathroom and bedroom which meant I could confine the poor bat to living room area.
It was flying high and although I had the doors and windows wide open, I could not get it out. I then resorted to gentle tapping with a tea towel hoping this would bring it down low enough to go out through the patio doors; sadly I got over enthusiastic and managed to stun the poor thing. It was flat out on the rug. I quickly gathered up the rug and took it on to the patio and left it there in the hope that the bat would recover. Released cats and gave another lecture on wildlife protection and went to bed. In the morning it had gone so I felt less guilty about thumping it. Pansy had been acting oddly in the early evening by the curtains so I imagine she had caught it early dusk and when she brought it in to show me, had dropped it and it had hidden in the curtains until all was peaceful and it felt it could try and fly home.
One evening returning from dinner in the next village, our headlights picked out a hare sat by the garage area. He was beautiful and bounded off up the driveway as we approached. Since then we have discovered a rather nice bunny living further along towards the main estate house. We met under rather different circumstances a few weeks later when Pompey yet again, dragged the poor thing into the garden to meet me. Pompey got the garden hose and bunny raced for freedom and can be seen some evenings munching with one eye over his shoulder.
We also have a number of partridges on the estate. One evening one of them walked down the driveway followed by five babies and proceeded to supervise them having a dust bath. When she considered them dusted up enough, she led them back up into the grapevines. We have been told that when the grapes are ripe, the partridges love to fly in and eat them.
The honey here is fabulous and when you drive around you often see brightly coloured beehives dotted around the hillsides. The bees are different here too. They are black, large and make the most incredible noise - a bit like an old Lancaster bomber!
Butterflies are huge and beautifully coloured, moths abound and some are also rather big and furry. Caterpillars are either small or big and hairy. Spiders are spiders and I prefer not to dwell on that subject.
There are lots of small birds, sparrows, tits, blackbirds etc as well as buzzards, hawks and the other days whilst over by Cabo da Roca, we saw an eagle floating up above on a jet stream. Glenn has also seen a robin and we definitely have an owl somewhere as we can hear him hooting at night. As the weather is still glorious at the moment, sunny in the day but a tad chilly in the evenings, we are still hearing wonderful birdsong in the mornings.