This new enthusiasm has come about after finding this print from 1823:
Its a painting by William Daniell who was an English landscape and marine painter and a member of the Royal Academy. He went round the coast of Britain painting as he went and here is Walmer Castle in 1823 drawn from our cliff line
In those days the cliffs were not the impenetrable jungle they are today and it shows that there was a footpath along the cliffs. We had already found mention in a book that The Duke of Wellington, who lived and died at Walmer Castle, liked to walk along the cliff from the Castle and now, having found this print, it is easier to imagine him doing so. The Duke of Wellington used to walk along our meadows as we do today – that’s quite a thought.
This information, along with the knowledge that the Romans and the Vikings landed in Britain very close to here, mean that seeing if anyone dropped anything over all these hundreds of years is quite appealing. That and the fact that the Mackenzie Crook television series of Detectorists is one of my all time favourites.
So we have purchased a Garrett EuroAce metal detector, quickly skim read the instructions and off we went
And so what did we find?
A Grolsch tin can, two nails out of horses hooves and some other potentially agricultural bits and pieces. We are quite pleased with our haul because that was our first time out and, if the detector told us something was there, it was invariably right. We need to to go back, read the instructions more thoroughly and spend time honing our skills.
Another thought is that these meadows are also likely to have WWII items buried in them from activity from a radar site close by and the fact that they lie along the line of Bomb Alley. It is to be hoped that we do not discover unexploded munitions.
We currently have this trap camera set on video only, but here are couple of snapshots from its video footage:
Taken at the end of a long and trying night by the looks of it. How has it got that dirty? This badger came up through the hole under the fence and waddled off bedwards.
These two badgers spent a little while grooming each other before setting off across the meadows for the evening.
Today we decided to venture down the cliff a bit to place a camera on one of the many burrows and diggings that pepper it:
We think that the hole it is now trained on is a fox den but we will see what we get when we retrieve it tomorrow. This is a first dipping of a toe into an exploration of the cliff – we would like to get a camera on the badger sett at a respectful distance but that is in quite a forbidding location and we may need to be roped up. This is a project for when we have more confidence.
This box was delivered weeks ago and we hadn’t got round to putting it up – there were all sorts of placement instructions, involving close proximity of a branch for the owlets to jump out onto, the adults needing an unimpeded view of open fields from the box – it was complicated and we didn’t seem to be able to find the perfect spot.
Well, instead, we created the perfect spot by sawing off some branches of a pine tree and strapping the box into position beside a likely looking branch with a system of bungies and straps.
The box has a little tunnel built into it so that the bird has to crawl down the tunnel to enter the main cavity of the box, into which we have placed some wood chip.
The box has gone high up into a pine tree with a clear view over the first meadow.
It is strapped up firmly with a branch close by should any little owlets want to jump out to stretch their legs and wings.
We have never seen Little Owls here and so this is a bit of a leap of faith, but lets see what happens in the Spring because you never know.
Whilst we had the ladders out, we investigated all the boxes that were up this year. Neither Kestrel box had any signs of use, nor had any of the wren boxes. The woodpecker box had a nest in it…. but it was a Great Tit’s nest. And two other nest boxes had Blue Tits nests in them.
Here were the nests that we have removed. One had an unhatched egg in it and the other two each had a dead baby bird in them – but brood sizes are large for these birds and so many fledglings must surely have been launched into the world from these boxes this year.
Back in the summer, we left about half an acre of meadow uncut to keep flowers for the butterflies, seed heads for the goldfinches and tussocks of grass as shelter for the voles. What we hadn’t considered was that the long grass would also provide bedding for the badgers – we hadn’t thought of it, that is, until we captured these wonderful photos.
It starts with a big rump coming backwards through the hole:
And then the badger continues backwards with rolls of hay stuffed under its chin:
Over the course of four or five days the badger made several trips a night doing this – all captured on film! It should be all nice and cosy in the sett now for their winter rest – they don’t hibernate but do really slow their activity levels.
While I was looking at all of these badger photos, I noticed what amazing long and powerful claws they have. Look at the claws on these animals: