For most people, a woodland would not be complete without its’ wildlife and Avondale is no exception.

The red squirrel can be found in the woodland. It makes its home high in the branches of the trees and lines it with moss and hair. A litter of 3-7 young is born in spring. Contrary to popular opinion the squirrel does not hibernate in winter but lies in its nest wrapped up inside its warm furry tail. Their diet consists of beechnuts, acorns berries and seeds and is especially fond of pinecones, which it can find in abundance in Avondale.

The badger is a shy animal that lives deep in holes or 'setts', underground. It prefers to emerge at night to forage for food. Badgers are sociable animals and several of them will live together in the one sett. The young badgers make their appearance in April/June and at first play only around the entrance to the sett. Later they become braver and wander a little bit further in search of worms, insects, rodents and even dead birds.

Another nocturnal animal of Avonmore is the hedgehog, which makes up for his lack of agility by rolling himself into prickly ball to discourage his enemies. If you are lucky enough to encounter the hedgehog in the late evening it is more likely that you will first have heard him shuffling around in the leaves for his favourite diet of worms, snails and beetles. One of his few natural enemies is the cunning fox that is credited with rolling the hedgehog into a river or pond where they must open up and swim rather than drown.

The fox is probably best known of all the woodland wildlife. His home is called an "earth". The female fox is called a vixen and the male fox is known as a dog fox. Foxes usually mate for life but if one is killed the other will find a new mate before the following season. During the mating season the scream of the vixen or bark of the dog can be heard at night over long distances. The fox is noted for its cunning in avoiding traps. When it is hunted the fox will backtrack on its own scent to break the trail. The fox's cunning increases with age and few of the older more experienced foxes ever get caught.

Down by the Avonmore River you may be fortunate enough to glimpse the otter. The young, who stay with their mother for almost a year, are at first reluctant swimmers but become the fastest of all swimming mammals. Characteristic features of the otter are short legs, webbed hind feet, hairy tapering tail, a broad flat head on a muscular neck and a coat of thick, glossy, dark-brown fur. Otters are amongst the most happiest and most playful of animals and a family will take great enjoyment in sliding down a mud bank one after another into the water.

The hare is the "loner" leading a solitary existence. It is quite fast and has been credited with reaching speeds of up to 40 m.p.h. The male is called a buck and the female is called a doe. The hare has large eyes set well back on the head which enables it to see in front, behind and above at all times. During the mating season (March) the bucks fight with their claws and teeth for possession of the does and, in their frenzy can be seen leaping high in the air. Hence the saying "Mad as a March hare".

The rabbit is familiar to us all and it is appearing in greater numbers following the ravages of myxomatosis. It seems that a new strain that is resistant to the virus has developed. Rabbits live in communal burrows or warrens in sandy soil or on dry hillsides. The warrens have communicating passageways and often spread over a considerable area.

Other carnivores at Avondale include the stoat, sometimes and incorrectly called the weasel. It hunts ceaselessly by day and night for small rodents and occasionally attacking rabbits and hares. It is said that the stoat is so inquisitive as to come back for another look having scurried away form danger.

As might be expected with its deciduous/conifer mix of trees Avondale is rich in bird-life and more than ninety different species have been recorded here. Some birds show themselves clearly while others stay hidden but make their presence known by their calls and songs. If you stand or sit still in any of the clearings and watch awhile some of them will sooner or later come into view.

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