There is a field mouse which tries to climb up on to the bird table outside the kitchen window and keeps falling off. There are pipistrelle bats in the stable block, hedgehogs and frogs in the undergrowth, newts in the pond and Hamish the half-wild cat who belongs to the nursery up the road constantly on the prowl, but it is the bird life in and around the garden which is particularly rich.
We often see buzzards overhead – indeed, we once saw two fighting on the lawn at the back of the house – and red kites, too. Pheasants stalk across the lawn to the back door where Jennifer feeds them, and we sometimes see partridges as well. Swifts scream and dart across the garden snapping up insects. Swallows nest in the stable block. There is a solitary raven who parades across the front garden on summer mornings. And, of course, there are many smaller birds – bullfinches, goldfinches, greenfinches, siskins, yellowhammers, coal tits, great tits, blue tits, wrens, woodpeckers and so on. One helpful guest in the Rookery wrote a list in the Visitors’ Book of all the birds he had seen during his week with us, but it is too long to reproduce here. And, of course, there are the rooks, which colonise the heights of the Scotch pines in the wild garden – and which are the reason our holiday cottage is called the Rookery.
Just a short walk along the river from Glenholme are Scotland’s largest reed beds on the River Dee, where you can see cormorants, herons and all kinds of duck and waterfowl, kingfishers and even, it is rumoured, otters playing under Cumstoun Bridge.