All of a sudden, Fox cubs are appearing on the trail cameras. By the hide pond..
Over by the Badger sett:
At the peanuts:
And also in the wood:
Here are baby Badgers at the peanuts with a Fox. The mother Badger would never have allowed this a month or so ago:
One of the Red Mason Bee nest boxes is now completely full:
So we have taken it inside and wrapped it in a pair of tights, to protect it from predator attack, and it will now spend the summer under the stairs. During this time, the eggs will hatch and the larvae will feed on that lovely yellow pollen and, by September, will have developed into tough cocoons. At that point we will retrieve the box from under the stairs, extricate the cocoons, clean any predators away and put them in the fridge for the winter.
We also have a summer bee box, with tunnels of varying diameter to suit Bees that fly later than the spring-flying Red Mason Bees.
This summer bee box has now gone out in the place of the Red Mason Box:
We have had a Lepidoptera ecologist (Butterflies and Moths) visit us at the meadows. Below the meadows is a patch of vegetated shingle that is an extremely precious habitat for two very rare moths, the Sussex Emerald Moth and the Bright Wave. Working for the Butterfly Conservation charity, he came to assess the meadows to see if there is anything that we can be doing to help support these species.
In terms of the Sussex Emerald, the answer is that we can’t help – the moth needs vegetated shingle and simply having the right larval food plant and being close by is just not good enough. However, we may be able to help the Bright Wave and he will return in a month to see if he can find any signs of Bright Wave activity in our meadows.
I went down to the shingle with him to survey the Sussex Emerald larvae before they pupate on a week or so. The larvae mainly eat Wild Carrot but here is one on Ragwort:
Azure Damselflies are mating down at the pond:
But the mass emergence of Emperor Dragonflies, which has been such a feature of late May in previous years, has yet to occur.
May has been dry and the ponds are getting low and busy.
There are a lot of Starlings here at moment, a mixed flock of juveniles and adults. The juveniles look quite different to the adults at this point of the year:
The Green Woodpecker continues to entertain us with its bathing technique which always appears more like a suicide attempt:
Surely this is not normal?
In the wood, the Woodpecker babies were making an increasingly loud noise.
It is thought that baby Woodpeckers are really quite vigorous and would be a threat to anything investigating the hole and so this noise they make is a warning for predators to keep away.
However, is this strategy working, or are they unnecessarily calling attention to themselves? After all, we first heard the nest rather than saw it. Also, there was this on the trail camera:
When I went there today with my mobile hide, I found that the babies had fledged and the nest was silent. I was cross with myself for having missed them. The best that I can do, for this year at least, is a grainy image of a red-capped juvenile from the trail camera:
Another couple of photos from the wood:
And, thrillingly, a Buzzard at the wood pond:
The finale for today are a couple of photos of the Small Blue colony that is doing so well in the meadows this year. These are females on the larval food plant, Kidney Vetch: