For the past week or so, a Buzzard has been visiting the shallow pond in the wood. The trail camera has really been getting some great images of this magnificent bird:
When the bird ringer sent me the photo below of the Cuckoo that he has recently ringed, he commented that it has a white spot on the back of its head (just visible in the photo), much like a Sparrowhawk has and that, by mimicking Sparrowhawks in this way, it is thought to help to avoid predation by them:
However, I now notice that the Buzzard in the Wood also has a white spot on the back of its head:
Why have these raptors got white spots on the back of their heads? I do not know but will attempt to find out.
I read that Buzzards mainly eat small rodents but also take birds, reptiles, amphibians, large insects and earthworms. Anything up to 500g can be taken alive but if the prey weighs more than this, then it will have to be carrion. Here is the Buzzard looking for earthworms in the same place as the Tawny Owl hunts for them at night. Clearly a worming hotspot.
Also in the wood, the two baby Badgers that we were getting photos of earlier on in the summer are still around. Badger mortality is very high in their first year and so it is good to see them both:
Below are the two Badger cubs at the meadows with their mother and an older sister:
The male Badger, Scarface, about whom I was so worried last week, seems to have made a good recovery, although it is unusual for him to allow a Fox to be around him like this:
I am sure, however, he would make a point of scattering this lot:
Foxes are enjoying using the small additional ponds that we have put in the meadows this year. Here is one drinking:
and then, ten seconds later:
I can only apologise to subsequent users of the pond. So many birds are using them:
A few days ago we dug a small sand pit as an additional type of habitat:
The next morning, it looked like it had been thoroughly investigated:
And, now, a few days later, it has continued to be dug around:
We should have put a camera on it straight away, but we have now and so hopefully we shall see who is doing this.
More rain was expected overnight and so, again, the tarpaulin went out:
We did get 6mm which was welcome but so much more is needed. This morning, after the rains, something made me look in this lime green bucket below:
I found two very surprising things. One was a newtlet in the few centimetres of rainwater collected within:
How did that get in there?
The other thing was a large black Dung Beetle floating on the surface of the water. I fished it out and it was still alive:
I have identified it as the Common Dumble Dor (Geotrupes spiniger). Did J K Rowling use this Beetle as inspiration?
These Beetles are associated with cow pats. They burrow under the pat and drag balls of dung down into the burrow to feed their young. But there are no farmed animals close to here. Tucked behind the water butts are three black buckets in which we are making Comfrey fertiliser and the smell of this stuff is extraordinarily and offensively manure-like. Could it be the smell from these buckets that has attracted this Dung Beetle? I looked into the buckets and, sure enough, I found another one drowned in one of them:
The underside of the Dumble Dor Beetle is beautifully metallic, although they are known to always be infested with mites as this one indeed was:
I didn’t like the thought that these buckets may be luring animals in to their death and so I have now strained the fertiliser into its final containers, which are upcycled ironing water flagons:
Not without spilling some of the foul smelling liquid over my foot, though. Comfrey fertiliser is very good but I am definitely going to upgrade my equipment should I decide to make it again.