Late October

Many sorry piles of feathers tell the tale that Sparrowhawks are around, but it has been some time since they have turned up on the cameras. However,  here is a magnificent male yesterday with his rufous cheeks and breast.

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The aftermath of a Sparrowhawk attack.

And actually here he is again from a few days earlier. A powerful outline:

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But this is a female on the gate – no rufous colouring and a browner back, but the same scary yellow eye and long yellow legs.

Trail camera

The homing pigeon came again yesterday – you can just see the rings on it’s left leg. It hadn’t been seen for a while and I had thought it was either one of the sorry piles of feathers mentioned above, or it had decided it was finally time to go home.

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It has been visiting for over a month now, which is impressive for a bird unaccustomed to surviving in the wild.

When we cut the meadows this autumn, the decision to leave areas untouched has meant that we can still provide cover for the three Grey Partridge that have been here all year. I was surprised to see how rusty red their tails are in flight:

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And from above as well:

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Here is a Blackbird with a sloe in its beak – the first time that I have noticed sloes being used by wildlife. Usually they wither and rot on the tree (…those that we haven’t already picked to make sloe gin of course)

Trail camera

And here is a Jay with an acorn from a Holm Oak in its beak. It is nice to notice who is eating what:

Trail camera

The Tawny was on the perch for the first time since we raised the camera on a pole:

Trail camera

A bit burnt out by the infra red – we will now move the pole back a bit.

Actually, we have bought a new trail camera, a different one to our normal cheap and cheerful Crenovas. This one is three times the price and has extremely powerful infra red flash capability – enough to light a very large area indeed if needed. It also has clip-on lenses to enable it to focus as close as 46cm, in which case it is possible to turn the infra red down a lot. The pictures should have much better clarity as well.

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We are testing it out alongside the Crenovas at the moment to get the measure of it but eventually we hope that it will go into the new Mustelid box.

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The new Bushnell trail camera in amongst the sea of Crenovas.

A small hole has appeared in the ground of the left hand copse and the dog is excessively interested in it, doing loud snorting down it every time she passes.

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A small hole in the ground.

We put a camera on it overnight to see what was living in there. It turned out that it wasn’t just the dog that was interested:

Trail camera

The residents were revealed to be two mice:

Trail camera

Ok, so the picture quality is awful – perhaps I should have put the new Bushnell on the job.

We are never a rich place for autumnal fungus here, perhaps because of the lack of trees and associated rotting wood. But these White Saddles normally put in an appearance in the grass – strange contorted things:

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These come up every year as well:

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They are quite large and underneath have a honeycomb of pores rather than gills. I have been looking in my books to try to ID them and, with no confidence whatsoever, I can suggest that they are Weeping Boletes (Suillus granulatus). Certainly a Bolete of some type.

Some of the foxes have extraordinarily plush-looking tails at the moment..

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera

No tails here but I just like the composition:

Trail camera

In front of the meadows is an area of sea that is sheltered in westerly winds and we often have vessels moored up overnight there. Recently there was the Avontuur, flying a German flag and built in 1920, it purportedly is a cargo ship although it looks much more like a pirate ship to us:

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This chemical tanker, the Whitdawn, flying a Maltese flag, was moored up alongside for about 4 days:

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Never moored up outside but always to be seen plodding along the busy shipping lane on the horizon are these floating islands:

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This particular containership is the Triton, also flying a Maltese flag, nine hours out from Rotterdam on its voyage to the Suez Canal.

I will finish today with the sky over the meadows as the sun got lower and the light began to fade last night. A mackerel sky, suggestive of a change in the weather to come.

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