Wildlife Column: Cat burglar strikes in Handsworth '“ read all about it!

My Handsworth correspondent, Peter Wolstenholme, was in touch with a story of theft from his garden pond. This followed my own account of a visitation by the local heron.

Monday, 31st December 2018, 9:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 1:54 am
Sheffield weather expert Professor Ian Rotherham.

'˜We have very had few birds on my feeders all this year. I also found a use for the redundant recycling '˜Blue Box' which, jammed under the garden hedge and forward-tilted to keep out the rain, part filled with dry leaves and three-quarters covered with the original lid. I hoped would be a refuge for hibernating hedgehogs. Anyhow, I have been filming two hedgehogs every night on my infrared night-camera. They are eating meat and peanuts put out for the fox.' So there you have a great after-use for the old blue boxes! Anyway, Peter goes on, '˜However, whilst I don't have your heron problem in my garden pond but I do have 'Cat Burglars' caught on night camera with the last of my Shebunkins.' There we are, the dreaded cat burglars of Handsworth, and caught red-handed! That appears to be a good- sized fish as well.

In my own garden, whilst overall bird numbers are quite low because of the mild weather and the abundant seeds and berries in hedgerows and the wider countryside, there have been some exciting moments. My moorhen is still well ensconced in the ponds and if it brings a '˜friend' maybe, just maybe it will nest. Baby moorhens would be exciting but spring is still a good-way off. We had our first great spotted woodpecker for quite a while when a female visited the fat balls to feed.

Cat Burglar

Although we have plenty of blue tits, great tits, and coal tits, there are still very few finches '“ no greenfinches or goldfinches for example. The house sparrows are doing well and the robins and dunnocks are constantly around. There are redwings in Graves Park but none as yet in the garden but we did have an influx of what I presume were continental migrant blackbirds. With up to eight at once these weren't our local breeding birds and the resident male took a dim view of the intruders.

Professor Ian D. Rotherham, of Sheffield Hallam University, researcher, writer and

broadcaster on wildlife and environmental issues.