Autumnal Clear Out

Today was the day to clear out the nest boxes.

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Many of them have used the fluorescent fluff from the dog’s footballs which makes them look very stylish.

We have 38 boxes up of assorted shapes and sizes and 11 of them had birds nests in – mostly Great Tits but also a Blue Tit, a Wren nest and a few unknown. Additionally, the Little Owl box and one of the Kestrel boxes had Squirrel nests in them:

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The Little Owl box
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A Squirrel nest in the Little Owl box.
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Presumed Squirrel nest in the Kestrel box

Until this year we had never seen a Squirrel here. However, in early summer this year, a Squirrel started appearing on the pond cameras every day to drink. We have not now seen this animal for several months and assume it is no longer with us and so have cleaned out both these boxes – ideally we want Little Owls and Kestrels, not Squirrels.

The Blue Tit nest had 10 babies which had been ringed whilst still in the nest back in May. Nine of these babies had subsequently successfully fledged but there was sadly a dead bird still in the box:

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A dead, ringed juvenile Blue Tit.

Two of the nest boxes that we knew had had Great Tits in during the summer, now have been adopted by mice:

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Box 22 – now a mouse nest. We left it alone and will reassess in the early spring
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Box 26 – we assume this is also now a mouse nest and so have left this one as well.

So 11 nests in 38 nest boxes is not a great hit rate but hopefully many young birds will have been successfully launched into the world from them this year. We will look at which boxes didn’t get used and consider re-siting them ready for next spring.

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It was a simply beautiful calm, warm day today. Several Common Darters were at the ponds:

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Butterflies were basking in the sunshine:

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Speckled Wood.
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Small Copper.
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Red Admiral.

A Buzzard flew low over the meadows, causing pandemonium amongst the resident corvids, many of whom formed a mob to chase it off the premises:

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We saw our first ever Buzzard here only a fortnight ago and so this is still a very exciting sight for us.

Last night we were taking a stroll around at about 5.30pm and we flushed a Woodcock from low in the hedgerow at the northernmost boundary. We have repositioned a few cameras to see if we can capture it photographically as it forages around the grass in the dark but we would have to be very lucky – its a big area to be covered by a couple of cameras.

We did get this shot of a Jay – I hadn’t really realised that Jays had quite this much blue on them.

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The experiment with the new Mustelid box continues. We still have only had mice visiting the box and we are still dissatisfied with the clarity of the photo that the trail camera is taking when asked to focus on something so close:

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Trail camera

This is still a work in progress.

The Tawny Owl is visiting regularly but, because the camera is pointing up at the perch, it is very vulnerable to getting dew on the lens resulting in this sort of thing:

Trail camera

We have now raised the camera up on a stick but hope that, now that the camera is the highest point, the owl doesn’t perch on that instead, because that would be annoying:

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Here is the badger sett by day, when the foxes are free to roam:

Trail camera

Trail camera

But, at the witching hour (6.15pm at the moment), the badgers emerge:

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A badger emerges to start the day.

Some sniffing of the air to ensure all is as it should be:

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Then a bit of grooming:

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A bit of general loafing around:

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Then the day can properly start. Any minute now the badgers will arrive to break up this peanut party:

Trail camera

Trail camera

We do not tire of watching and trying to understand how these animals live their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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