Monday, 16 September 2013

Meet the neighbours

My scrutiny of the trap yesterday was interrupted by strange sounds from the paddock next door, a mixture of grunts and screams which interrupted the cheery 'yaffle' of our endlessly restless Green Woodpecker.

Leaving the eggboxes, I found myself observing a major outbreak of hormone-related teenage jostling for leadership among the four alpacas - all young and all male - which live in the field and were trying to clamber on top of one another when not sneakily nipping rival legs and ears with their big, gawpy teeth.

Our very nice neighbour, owner of three of them and temporary foster-parent of the fourth, then rang us to ask if we'd like some plums and apples and also to apologise for the alpaca noises. Don't say sorry, we said; they're fascinating. Drinkers in the garden of the pub next door had apparently found the same on Saturday, peering through the undergrowth to watch the antics.

Alapacas have a place in my heart after years of living close to Saltaire, the Yorkshire mill village (now a World Heritage Site) where Sir Titus Salt made a fortune by showing sceptics that alpacas' unruly hair could be turned into lovely cloth. Statues of the animals abound as a result, including this pair in Roberts Park.

The vet is coming along with his snipper to bring our neighbourhood alpacas' testosterone-fuelled episode to an end, but it's been instructive to watch in terms of the similar jostling which goes on among the youth of our own species. The alpacas also have a very human obsession with fine dining; I got so close to this one - just over the garden wall - cos it was far too interested in hawthorn al fresco to take any notice of me.

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