The Turning of the Year


There was bird ringing in the meadows yesterday as 2018 was taking its last gasps. I am always surprised at what a marked eyestripe Wrens have.

This male Greenfinch was almost canary yellow:


The wing feathers of a Greenfinch are edged with glorious, sunshine yellow as well.


I have never noticed that male Chaffinches have olive-green rumps before. In fact the olive and chestnut colouring on their backs is really beautiful:


Sparrowhawks seem to be turning up on the cameras daily at the moment. In particular we have seen a lot of this bird shown below and, in my previous blog post, I called her a female Sparrowhawk. Having spoken to the bird ringer, I now know that she’s a juvenile:


Her back and head are brown but when she is fully adult they will be slate grey. Moreover, she has a columns of love hearts down her chest:

Version 2

An adult female will just have barring.

The camera trained on the perch caught the dramatic moment of a Sparrowhawk catching a Magpie:

Trail camera

That’s one way of sorting the Magpie problem out.

There has been a lot of activity at the nest boxes as Blue Tits check them out. They try to bag them as their own, roost in them through the rest of the winter and then be in prime position at the start of the breeding season. Of course, it’s always our most disreputable nest box that is the most popular:


I was amused to see a Blue Tit also investigating the bat box:


Unfortunately we now seem to be down to only three Grey Partridge, having lost one of the males. Last winter we had a band of between nine to eleven birds so this is rather a sad reduction in numbers of a bird that is generally not doing very well at all:


The Small Rodent project continues. We have got some slightly better photos, although there is still much room for improvement.  The Voles are so appealing:



Here is a Pygmy Shrew with its amazing nose:



The main thing that we have learnt from this project that we didn’t know before is that Wood Mice are exclusively nocturnal and have only appeared in the dark. The Voles and Shrews mostly visit during daylight although occasionally do appear at night. Therefore, we conclude that the Kestrels must be hunting Voles and the Owls are hunting mainly Mice. Shrews have foul tasting scent glands which is such a good tactic because no one wants to eat them.

Also very surprising are the size differences. Here are three photos that I haven’t cropped. A Wood Mouse:


A Bank Vole:


And a Pygmy Shrew:


Having been watching the path along the cliff for a few years now, we know that winter is a time for fox dispersal and we see foxes passing through that we do not recognise. It is usually in daylight hours that we see them and often they are in a bad way, like this fox with mange this morning:

Screenshot 2018-12-30 at 10.39.08

The resident foxes here had mange three years ago and we treated and cured them by putting out jam sandwiches laced with medicine every day for six weeks. But there is nothing that we can do for these poor animals that are in transit, other than hope that they eventually settle somewhere where someone spots their plight and cares enough to help them.

Now, after that, we need a joyful way to finish and here are the young Badgers playing. This year’s and last year’s cub still love to romp together and it warms the cockles of your heart to watch them:

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3 thoughts on “The Turning of the Year

  1. Another great posting. Thank you. Haven’t seen a greenfinch in a long time, and thought magpies may be too big for sparrowhawks…. otherwise they’d be called magpiehawks.. 😉

    1. I was really surprised to see a Sparrowhawk take a Magpie, too. I have seen them take Wood Pigeon and I suppose Magpies are no bigger than that – but they are a lot more vigorous and able to fight back.

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