We knew there were Woodcock here at the moment and I wanted to get a photograph of them – but absolutely not like this:
Really tragically, it had flown into glass and broken its neck. Now it is in our fridge awaiting the bird ringer to come up and check it out tomorrow morning.
But moving on from that unfortunate incident, here is the wild pond, refilling nicely with the autumn rains and with enormous quantities of reeds pulled out. It seems quite large again now but the last two summers have been so dry and hot here that we were worried about it drying out completely and had to resort to topping it up with tap water. The trouble with that is that tap water is water that has landed on the ground and picked up nutrients which will then be added to the pond, causing all sorts of unwanted algal growth.
What is also going on in the photograph above is the building of a roofed log pile – the roof will be sloping with guttering attached that feeds directly into the pond. As well as that big benefit, the logs themselves should be great habitat for reptiles, amphibians and insects.
Well, its all a bit of experiment, but it will definitely increase the catchment area of the pond and so should help a bit with keeping it filled. When it next rains, we will see how much water is coming out of that pipe and then judge if we should build a second one as well. The logs to go under the roof are yet to be sourced but I think it will look really good once it is completed and weathered in a bit.
Another way to reduce the impact of a drought for our newly planted trees is to generously mulch round their bases. To help with that, we want to collect leaves this autumn and make some leaf mould. We have some crates that we retrieved from the bonfire pile of our local, friendly garden centre.
They are extremely sturdy and heavy and were used to deliver stone to their landscaping business. We have lined them with anti-weed membrane:
And have filled them with autumn leaves:
However, we now need to wait for two years!
Yesterday was misty and chilly all day but the bird ringer came early with two trainees and they stayed all morning. They caught 30 birds of 12 different species. This is only the second Coal Tit that we have seen here:
A beautiful Firecrest:
A Wren and the much smaller Goldcrest:
A Goldcrest (a male because of the orange colour that can just be seen at the back of the yellow crest):
A Goldcrest in the hedgerow:
An extremely feisty and vocal female Blackbird. This bird was previously ringed with a British ring and the number on the ring will be fed back to the BTO to see where she comes from:
However, they only caught three Linnets which is disappointing when you see how many Linnets have been visiting to feed on the seed that we are putting on the strip at the moment:
I count about 60 birds here.
The Grey Partridge are also still visiting to eat this food. Here are the three that have been around all summer and autumn:
However, this morning it was a group of four Partridge that we flushed as we walked round collecting cameras. Partridge do collect together in larger groups over winter and so this maybe the start of that. Last winter we had a group of nine birds as frequent visitors.
Of course the Sparrowhawk is always interested in all this bird activity:
Now that we have had some rain and the ground has softened, today we officially launched the Winter 2018/9 metal detecting season!
After about an hour, we had dug up all sorts of sundry metal odds and sods. Nothing exciting this time but the season has only just begun!
As well as allowing metal detecting, the softened earth means that worms are able to move more freely and there are impressively towering worm casts everywhere as they come to the surface to drag leaves down.
These worm casts are such a sign that autumn has now properly arrived in the meadows.