It was all a bit of a mystery. Why was a Tawny Owl standing on the ground under the feeders in the wood practically every night? My best guess was that the feeders were attracting rodents and the Owl was hunting them. However, trail camera photos from the last few nights have shown that it is hunting, but that it is not rodents that it is after:
This is why many of the photos show it looking so intently at the ground:
I read that one of the reasons why Tawny Owls are so successful is how varied their diet can be – small mammals, birds, amphibians, bats and they will also hunt on foot for worms.
The Tawny Owl box in the wood now has a bit of stick protruding out of the hole:
Possible sign of occupation – but is it an Owl? Other potential tenants are Stock Dove or Jackdaw. The bird ringer (properly licensed to ring Owls) will be coming to look in all the boxes in a few weeks to see what is going on.
As well as the big Owl and Kestrel boxes that we have put up, we also placed six little bird boxes around the wood. We looked in four of these today and they all had nests in. One even had chicks:
In the last week the wood has come on incredibly. We found an area where there were lots of these Twayblades growing. These are a type of Orchid:
And an large area of Yellow Archangel – an indicator of ancient woodland:
The Primroses are still going strong:
And there is a lot of Bugle growing:
As always when talking about the wood, let me show you some birds using the makeshift ponds!:
Back in the meadows, the Badger Twins are gaining in confidence with every passing night:
Butterflies are starting to be seen when the sun comes out:
Last year we had a very poor year for the population of Small Blue Butterflies that we have here. We now understand that this was because of the shortage of Kidney Vetch, the larval food plant for this butterfly, the year before that. In order to augment the Kidney Vetch so that there is always enough, I gathered seed from the plants last August and kept them in an envelope over winter. This spring, I scratched the seeds between sand paper sheets, planted them and put them in a heated propagator for a week. Delighted to see that this approach seems to have been successful so far and I should be getting these new little plants out into the meadow later on this year once they have grown on a bit:
St Marks Flies (Bibio marci) are so called because they usually appear on St Mark’s Day, 25th April and fly for just a week. Indeed, that is exactly the day that they appeared this year and they are now here in great numbers. They are unmistakable because they fly with their legs dangling and are extremely black. Apparently they are important pollinators:
A few other photos from the meadows to finish for today: