Hunter Turned Hunted

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This is a young female Kestrel who unfortunately has fallen foul of a Sparrowhawk. Very poignantly, I had taken a photo of her earlier that same morning when she herself was out hunting for small mammals:

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If an identikit was produced for the prime suspect for this killing it would surely lead us to this bird:

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I have managed to get a photo of the Alexandrine Parrot with its diagnostic red wing patches – it has been happily squawking around here for several months now:

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In exactly the same way as last year, a pair of Mallards have started visiting the pond early every morning – this means that the female Mallard has started egg laying. An egg is laid every 1-2 days until the clutch is complete with about 12 eggs in the nest. While this process is going on, she is very weakened and the male escorts her everywhere including coming here to the meadows for her daily bath. As soon as she has laid the last egg he goes off to join other males, his job as bodyguard being over, leaving her to sit on the eggs on her own.

Trail camera

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You see them at the pond above along with our other regular pond visitor, the Grey Heron. It visited this morning and the trail camera photographed it taking six frogs and two newts and, in fact, this evening as I type it is back in position again.

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Despite its relentless and ruthlessly efficient fishing for frogs at this pond over the past few weeks, against all the odds some frog spawn did get laid and this has now hatched into a very large number of tadpoles:

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This is good to see.

The mother Badger has moved the cubs again. Here she is moving one at 10.07pm:

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Although the photo is blurred, you can see that this cub is much larger now than when she first moved them earlier on in March:

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I do not understand why they seem to be being moved from the same place again – perhaps they returned there underground?

 

Then she goes back at 10.22pm:

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And returns with the second cub at 10.25pm:

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Here is a photo showing Foxes and Badger all getting along very well at the nightly peanuts.

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We have had some Red Mason Bee cocoons over-wintering in our fridge that we harvested from the Mason Bee boxes last autumn:

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Now is the time to start putting them out, a small batch at a time every few days. In this way, if the weather takes a downturn, we won’t lose all our Bees.

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The Mason Bee boxes are back out on the shed. The cocoons are put in the release boxes at the bottom so that they can fly out of the hole when they hatch. The bees will hopefully then go on to nest in the wooden tunnels above.

Additionally, our other Mason Bee project, the Mason Bee Guardian Scheme, has sent us bee cocoons and new nesting tunnels so that we can get started with that as well:

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We had a bumper Red Mason Bee year last year and sent them back 47 completed tubes.

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Bee cocoons from the Mason Bee Guardian Scheme going out into the release box.

Hopefully this year will be as good or better.

There has been a lot going on in the wood. We went there this afternoon and boiled some water in our new Kelly Kettle:

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This is a very efficient thing. You put some dry sticks and paper in the bottom and light it.  The top part then acts like a chimney – but it is a chimney with cavity walls. You can fill this space in the cavity walls with water which then heats up really quickly and easily and before you know it you are sitting with a mug of tea in your hands.

We dug in a shallow and sloping paint tray near the feeders to introduce a bit of freshwater into the wood. A week ago, we put a trail camera by the tray to see if it was being used. Well, today I had 800 photos of birds using this water. Far and away the most exciting of these was this one:

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This is a Tawny Owl and is the first evidence we have of Owls in the wood. It isn’t using the water but is probably catching mice attracted by the feeder.

Here are a few more from the paint tray:

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Female Pheasant
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Male Blackbird
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Jay

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Song Thrush
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Wren
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Male Blackcap – a new species for the wood.

If ever there was a demonstration of how valuable a pond, however small, can be for wildlife, then the 800 photos I went through this afternoon is it.

This next photo is of the two Badgers that live in the wood and they are collecting bedding. The Badgers in the meadows use hay as bedding but there is no grass here in the wood or surrounding fields and so what do they use?  Luckily, they abandoned this pile of bedding and it was still there today as I came to look at the camera.  Therefore, I can tell you that they have been scratching at ferns to pull away the dead leaves from the crowns and it was mainly these along with other general leaf litter from the ground that was making up their bedding.

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They might differ from the meadow Badgers in their choice of bedding, but their love of lounging around pressed up together is very similar indeed:

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There are vast number of Primroses out in full flower in the regeneration area of the wood. It’s very beautiful:

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The Kent County Botanical Recorder who lives nearby went to the wood to see what Violets we had growing there and it appears we have three: Hairy Violet, Common Dog-Violet and the Early Dog-Violet. She made us up an information pack to teach us the differences which was very helpful:

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I feel that I can now distinguish between the three with reasonable confidence.

She also found a patch of Moschatel growing:

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This is a tiny but exquisite little plant that is also called the Town Hall Clock because of the arrangements of the flowers on its flowerhead.

Finally for today are photos from the wood that I haven’t managed to fit in elsewhere:

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