Happily Eating Worms

IMAG0075

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:

IMAG0077

It’s worms.

This is why many of the photos show it looking so intently at the ground:

IMAG0006

Trail camera

Trail camera

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Very young little chicks. Eyes still closed.

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And an large area of Yellow Archangel – an indicator of ancient woodland:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Primroses are still going strong:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And there is a lot of Bugle growing:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As always when talking about the wood, let me show you some birds using the makeshift ponds!:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera

Back in the meadows, the Badger Twins are gaining in confidence with every passing night:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Screen Shot 2019-04-20 at 11.53.47

Butterflies are starting to be seen when the sun comes out:

IMG_9443
Speckled Wood
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Green Hairstreak on Alexander
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Green Hairstreak on Wayfarer.

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A few other photos from the meadows to finish for today:

Trail camera
Sparrowhawk
IMG_7277
Cowslips coming up
IMAG0034
Robin again entering the Mustelid box along the tunnel.
Trail camera
A lovely load of healthy Foxes. A game of Foxy in the middle?

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Happily Eating Worms

  1. Absolutely loved reading this – it is so uplifting seeing the diversity in your woodland and on the meadows. Gives courage in these difficult times of changing climate and species lost.

    Like

  2. Absolutely loved reading this – it is so uplifting seeing the diversity in your woodland and on the meadows. Gives courage in these difficult times of changing climate and species lost.

    Like

  3. Thanks, Lynne. The tentacles of climate change have definitely reached us here – the last two summers have been scarily hot and dry and I suppose we have to try to adapt as best we can. But I love doing this blog and it makes it especially worthwhile if others can also get enjoyment and inspiration from it too.

    Like

  4. Friends tell me there is a population of small blue beneath you on the beach behind the new housing, where there are patches of kidney vetch…though you probably knew that already…

    Like

    1. Yes, thank you, Graham. That population seemed to be doing alright last year when we went to look, thank goodness. We, however, only saw a couple all year. Hoping for better things this year. That shingle is also very important for Sussex Emerald and Bright Wave moths – quite a special place.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s