35 million Pheasants are reared and released into the British countryside to be shot every year. That is a mind-blowing and horrifying number. However, here in the wood, where there is no shooting, it seems that the Pheasants are settling down to produce the next generation the natural way.
What the trail camera has caught here is the courtship dance of the male. He lowers his head, fans out his tail and drops a wing on the side of the female to best display his most impressive plumage. He establishes a territory and attracts a harem of females which can be anything from 2 to 18 birds. Here is our male with his rather meagre harem so far of a pair of ladies:
Since the females are ground nesting, I suppose that they are vulnerable to predation which is why there may have to be many females to one male.
Anyway, he is the most magnificent animal and I am looking forward to seeing if we get young Pheasants in due course.
One of the Badgers in the wood is clearly a lactating female and so we also may be expecting baby Badgers here as well before too long
There has been a second Badger hole excavated in the last few days:
This is another single hole sett and is about 50m from the existing hole.
Coming into peak Bluebell season now but this is the best that our wood can do for Bluebells:
But it is rather excelling itself with Primroses in the regeneration area:
I spent some time this afternoon photographing Dotted Bee Flies sipping nectar from these flowers:
Dotted Bee Flies are much rarer than Dark-edged Beeflies but I realise now that I should have increased the shutter speed to stop the wings moving and then the spotted wings would have been properly shown. I will try again next time I visit. I love the row of white dots down their backs as well.
I have been going through our reference books to identify this fungus below and I believe it to be the Semi-free Morel (Morchella semilibera) which is found in damp, calcareous woodland in spring:
I have an on-going project to try to get a half decent trail camera photograph of the Tawny Owl that comes down onto the ground under the feeders at the wood most nights. This is the best I’ve got for you so far but there is so much room for improvement:
Moving back now to the meadows. There has been a bitter easterly wind blowing across these coastal cliffs here for many days now and it seems that the onward progress of spring has slowed down.
However, this hasn’t stopped the wild Cherry tree coming out into full flower:
Its blossom is very popular with bees of all shapes and sizes and the tree hums with them in the sunshine:
This bee below is the most beautiful of bees, I think. She is the female Tawny Mining Bee.
The Slow Worms are spending a lot of time warming up under the sampling squares in this chilly weather:
There are a lot of Stock Doves on the strip at the moment. They are shy and beautiful birds and I think this photo goes some way to capture their charm:
The UK has 60% of the global population of these birds and so it is especially important that we take good care of them. Well, there are eight of them being looked after here:
We have been releasing trail cameras from duties elsewhere and moving them up onto the strip ready for the start of the Turtle Dove season at the beginning of May. I subscribe to Birdguides alerts and I had an email only yesterday telling me that two Turtle Doves were spotted in Stodmarsh, a nearby reserve, and so they have started arriving.
We also have our Grey Partridge pair still visiting the strip and I think that this early morning photo is nicely atmospheric:
The Mallard pair are also coming every day at dawn for a swim. They don’t stay very long and then they are off back to their nest:
This was quite a good photo of a Field Vole in the mustelid box:
Finally for today, we have the Foxes: