posted 24th July 2016 by Peter Frost Pennington (Twiggy 6 to 8 weeks old in these photographs)
Twiggy is now 2 months old and doing well. A day after she was born on the 23rd May by emergency C-section within minutes of the death of her mother following a car accident she weighed 1.8Kg. She is now 8.8Kg so has quadrupled in size in that short period of time. She is over 50cm tall to the top of her shoulders.
Iona and I are obviously her foster mum & dad but she is a lot less dependant on us now…thank goodness. She seems to be thriving and we still would like to see her going back to a semi wild state in the gardens at Muncaster if at all possible. Currently she is being kept in a large enclosure in a quiet part of the extensive gardens and we are still bottle feeding her twice a day. Early in the morning and late in the evening we go to feed her and on most occasions take her out for a walk in the gardens, once there are few if any visitors around.
Growing fast – above mum’s knee now.
Where now, dad?
We do not walk her like a dog, on a collar or lead, but try to mimic the behaviour of a roe deer doe. So we wander around a bit, more or less going where she chooses, so she gets to know the wider area around her large enclosure better. She browses from time to time while we garden; cutting back nettles & pulling up brambles and similar.
Her diet is varied; she browses rather than grazes, preferring tree leaves and similar to grass. In fact we have noticed that one of her favourite foods seems to be the bobbly bits on rushes!
It is wonderful to see her natural instincts at play; she is very watchful and her ears are constantly swivelling round scanning the horizon for any unexpected noise while her head bobs up and down watching for movements. If worried at all she still freezes and if certain there is something there she will bolt off or slink quietly into deep undergrowth. A top magician would love her vanishing skills, so we have to watch her carefully and occasionally run after her.
In fact I am convinced she practises her running and shows off to mum & dad. On quite a few occasions now she has suddenly run away from me at top speed, yet turns and runs around me in large circles, bounding effortlessly through the undergrowth like an African gazelle. She then comes back to me, panting hard as if to say “Was that any good? Am I fast enough? Are you impressed dad?” “Of course I am” I tell her.
On a few occasions we have been surprised by people or roaming dogs and have run off together…it is very odd to find yourself thinking like a prey animal in your own garden, with your heart beating faster and that adrenalin surge rushing through your body. Once safe we stop and get our breath back, before creeping back another way to her enclosure.
Oi! Feed me, not those pesky herons.
Still not sure about these noisy ducks.
However, she is definitely displaying teenage tendencies, often wanting to stay out later than she should and (like my own daughter) she is a very determined young lady! The time will come, possibly very soon, when we will lose her for half a day or more (we already did once when she was less than 2 weeks old!) and we are soon going to fit her with a collar (with a break easy link so she cannot get caught by it) and are hoping to find an effective tracker device to fit to her too, if at all possible. Still, all parents have to face the desire in their young sooner or later to leave home and become independent and encourage them to do so. When the time comes we hope she will hang around a bit (but not too much) and come back to her home base on occasion. For the next month or so I’m pretty certain she’ll stick around until she decides that nutritious milk is not as tasty as it once was or as filling as all those delicious plants in the gardens and woods around Muncaster!
So our Twiggy adventure is continuing, taking up loads of our time when we should be doing other things, but I enjoy it hugely and am learning so much about these beautiful creatures. We are very blessed to have her in our lives.
Peter Frost-Pennington, 24th July 2016
Conservation Matters @ Muncaster