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A Wildlife Haven

The wildlife at Gelli is amazing. We have had so many magical wildlife experiences here, including being nose to nose with foxes through the window, watching kingfishers on the pond, seeing otter cubs up close, chatting to owlets on the drive fence and seeing goshawks and many other birds of prey. Another highlight is ‘Bobbin’ the robin, who follows us round the land and comes to our hand regularly for treats. Quite a lot of birds follow us round – it’s like being Mary Poppins!

We have tried to create a wildlife haven, by re-wilding the land and creating various wildlife habitats. The fields are left long, with paths mown through them for us to walk. We’ve planted a lot of trees, including fruit trees and have left areas of bramble. All-in-all, this approach has provided cover and food for various animals, birds and insects.

We have seen the amount of wildlife increase significantly, both in number and species. We have more bird varieties and are always excited to spot a new caterpillar, moth or butterfly that we’ve not seen here before. We have wildlife cameras which we move around the land and river, capturing the more secretive wildlife. It’s always a treat to see what’s been going on without us!

All of the following photos were taken on Gelli’s land and many were taken from the house, or just outside the house. Read more about Gelli’s wildlife and what we’ve seen, further down the page. You can also follow Gelli on Facebook and see footage of the otters, kingfishers, foxcubs and other wildlife on Youtube.

Some sightings are rare, others we see most days. We see an incredible amount just from the window, or from the bench outside the house. We’ve sat on the bench outside the house and watched a sparrowhawk chasing a bat through the valley. We’ve watched the swallows playing with a feather, dropping it from up high and then chasing it down and catching it again. We’ve been outside the house and seen a peregrine hunting. The sparrowhawk will shoot round the corner past the house, just touching our faces with its wing as it had been unaware we were sitting on the bench outside. We’ve seen a goshawk on a few occasions as it’s landed in one of the fir trees or streaked through the valley.

Summer days bring circling kites and buzzards riding the thermals and the swallows skim low over the long grass in the fields. You can lie back in the meadows and watch them all overhead. In the spring/summer, the kites nest in a tree on the other side of the river in Far Meadow.

The otters come to the pond, especially when it’s spawning season, as they like to feed on the frogs and toads. They’re very secretive, but we have seen them in the pond on numerous occasions. We were lucky enough to twice see otter cubs on the river, after worrying about them as they were making their high pitch ‘peep peep’ call for their mum for over 24 hours. Both times, Mum did thankfully return, once scolding her cub for being out and making a noise!

Some years the kingfishers come to the pond and we’ve watched them fairly close by as they’ve fished for newts and dragonfly larvae. We also sometimes get a pair of wild ducks nesting on the island in the pond, and if they’re successful, the ducklings appear for a short time before being taken off to the river.

We regularly watch the foxes pouncing on voles around the fields, or fox cubs playing around the land. Some years, the foxes used to come to the window to take the bird food, and often the reflection meant they couldn’t see us, so we would go right up to the window and literally be nose to nose with them. Our dog found that super exciting!!

We have greater spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches and long-tailed tits (to name but a few) feeding from the window feeder, so if you’re careful you can get right up to them. We feed the birds a lot and the main bird feeder, which is just a few metres from the house, is always packed full of birds.

Here’s a few things that have visited Gelli whilst we’ve been here, and how often we see them…

  • Goshawk (rarely)
  • Peregrine (rarely)
  • Kite (frequently & nest other side of Far Meadow)
  • Buzzard (frequently)
  • Sparrowhawk (frequently)
  • Kestrel (surprisingly rarely)
  • Raven (frequently)
  • Crow (frequently)
  • Jackdaw (frequently)
  • Jay (frequently)
  • Magpie (fairly frequently)
  • Tawny Owl (frequently)
  • Barn Owl (rarely)
  • Stock dove (occasionally)
  • Collared Dove (occasionally)
  • Greater Spotted Woodpecker (frequently)
  • Kingfisher (normally occasional, but sometimes frequently)
  • Dipper (fairly frequently on the river)
  • Robin (very frequently!)
  • Blackbird (frequently)
  • Mistle Thrush (frequently at times)
  • Song Thrush (frequently at times)
  • Dunnock (frequently)
  • House Sparrow (frequently)
  • Nuthatch (frequently)
  • Chaffinch (frequently)
  • Brambling (rarely)
  • Bullfinch (fairly frequently)
  • Goldfinch (frequently)
  • Siskin (frequently)
  • Blackcap (fairly frequently at times)
  • Whitethroat (fairly frequently at times)
  • Spotted Flycatcher (very rarely)
  • Blue Tit (frequently)
  • Great Tit (frequently)
  • Coal Tit (frequently)
  • Willow Tit (fairly frequently at times)
  • Long Tailed Tit (frequently at times)
  • Treecreeper (occasionally – nest on site)
  • Goldcrest (occasionally)
  • Chiffchaff (frequently)
  • Willow Warbler (fairly frequently at times)
  • Grey Wagtail (sometimes frequently, sometimes rarely)
  • Pied Wagtail (sometimes frequently, sometimes rarely)
  • Swallow (frequently – nest in outbuildings, but not many)
  • Swift (occasional flyovers)
  • Wren (frequently)
  • Woodcock (frequently at times)
  • Redwing (frequently at times)
  • Fieldfare (frequently at times)
  • Starling (frequently at times and lovely flocks overhead)
  • Redstart (very rarely)
  • Redpoll (very rarely)
  • Heron (frequently)
  • Duck (frequently at times)
  • Canada Goose (rarely)
  • Greylag Goose (rarely)
  • Merganser (very rarely)
  • Cormorant (very rarely)
  • Pheasant (very rarely)
  • Fox & young
  • Badger
  • Otter & young
  • Polecat
  • Hedgehog
  • Grey Squirrel
  • Rabbit
  • Weasel
  • Pygmy shrew
  • Red deer (only once)
  • Roe deer (only once)
  • Bats (various)
  • Lizard
  • Newt
  • Dragonfly (various)
  • Toad
  • Frog
  • Fish (in river)
  • Butterflies & Moths including:
    Silver-winged Fritillary
    Hummingbird Hawk Moth
    Elephant Hawk Moth