The children came rushing down the stairs to announce that we were being attacked. The wild fallow deer that have begun to arrive in our corner of West Sussex certainly make a sound similar to someone being violently mugged for their iPhone, and their cacophony coincided with an alarm in our outdoor shed going off. I’m not surprised that, to young ears, the brouhaha sounded like an inner-city rioting spree. The electronic alarm was a false one, as it turned out, probably set off by a mammal on the move. Suddenly, there is activity everywhere.

The pingy quality of our newborn lambs never fails to raise a chuckle, but the Canada geese that have annexed the pond are partying deep into the night, splashing and honking sufficiently to warrant a noise-abatement order. Our white doves are more jittery after a sparrowhawk was spotted gliding sinisterly overhead; they seem to know it’s the only British bird of prey that feeds almost exclusively on other birds.

Long-tailed tits will also be worried. Few birds have accumulated such a large collection of names: mumruffin, oven builder and poke pudding being some of my favourites. I’m keeping an eye out for their beautiful nests, a spherical mass of feathers, moss and fur with a tiny hole.

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