Early Autumn Sunshine

There has been a little run of beautiful autumnal days and this is a round up of some of the going-ons here:

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A homing pigeon has spent several days here. In fact, it was on the cameras as recently as yesterday and so it may still be here. I have expanded the photo as much as I can but cannot read any information on its leg rings and so there is nothing to be done other than hope that it is enjoying it’s holiday but that it will soon find its way safely home because I am sure that it is being missed somewhere.

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Double-decker sunbathing – Dragonfly and Fly

There are a lot of Common Darters around at the moment and I have been frustrating myself trying to photograph them:

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The stones around the pond are proving popular spots to keep warm now that the air temperature is lower:

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We are trying out a new camera position on the cliff, looking at some major earthworks:

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What already is clear, is that this is currently the main sett where the female and young badgers are sleeping and so I hope to get some good bedding-dragging shots over the next few nights:

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The female and the two young badgers. I think Scarface might be in a different, but close by, tunnel. Time will tell – I’m watching for him.

Here are the young badgers and the female last night, playing nicely with a fox. I like to see them all getting along:

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Although it was only the bravest one of these foxes that stayed once the badgers arrived:

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The Tawny has been occasionally visiting and here is an action shot of it:

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The bird ringer was here this morning and he was busy.  In fact, he caught 76 birds in total. Below are his tripods with some birds in bags safely awaiting processing – that’s a lot of birds for one check of the nets.

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Looking back at last year, he was catching Goldcrests and Firecrests at this time. However, they have not started migrating yet this year and that is thought to be due to them having a good breeding season which they are still finishing off. Well, it’s lovely to have some good news. Today he caught 40 Chiffchaffs, 31 Blackcaps, 1 Linnet, 3 Bluetits and a Dunnock. Actually, here is a Chiffchaff on a trail camera this morning having a drink.

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Loads of berries on the Whitebeam trees this year. Never seen a crop anything like this here before:

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We also have a Spindle tree (Euonymus europaea) in the hedgerow which likes chalky soils and has very distinctive pink berries:

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The berries from below

When you cut across the berries:

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Spindle timber is white, hard and dense and used to be used for making spindles for spinning wool (as well as tooth picks, skewers and knitting needles). Today the wood is used to make high-quality charcoal for artists.

One of the new Oak trees that we planted at the beginning of this year is forming quite a few of these galls:

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I have just the book to find out about galls:

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I discover that our native Oaks have 40 different galls to be found on them. I think that the galls in my photo above are Oak marbles, caused by the asexual generation of the gall wasp Andricus kollari. These gall wasps are not a native species, having been introduced early in the 19th century when the marble galls were used as a source of tannin for dyeing and ink-making. These are now the most common of all Oak galls.

So, thus ends a galloping round-up from the last few days. It was really lovely here today – sunshine, no wind and a chance to get out and really enjoy.

 

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