Season Switch

Now in September, although the sun is still out, there is a certain autumnal something in the air and a need to open up that jumper drawer again and see what’s inside. We decided that it was time to get started on our Autumn Season Jobs. Here is one of them in progress:

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This pond is so overgrown and needs extensive removal of vegetation at this time of year. There is some water in there somewhere – but just not very much. At the end of Phase One of this job, the wild pond now looks like this:

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First use of the new waders and they have been declared a success. This man got a hose down:

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It is much easier to remove the vegetation when its roots are in water and so Phase Two will commence once the pond refills a bit.

However, having now created a bit of open water, early the next morning unfortunately there was this:

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Another job is to send the completed Red Mason Bee tubes off to the Mason Bee Guardian Scheme HQ. Under this scheme, we get sent Bee cocoons in the spring. Once they hatch out, the Bees collect pollen from our lovely flower meadows and build nests in these tubes :

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When completed and capped off with mud, we keep the tubes in the cool and dark of the under-stairs cupboard during the summer. The developing larvae feed off the pollen in the nests and form hard cocoons which are then resilient enough to be sent via Royal Mail. Back at HQ, the cocoons will be cleaned up and then chilled through the winter, ready to send some back out to us again next spring.

Last year we were initially sent 25 Bee cocoons. At the end of the summer we sent back to them 45 completed tubes which, they reported, contained 342 healthy Red Mason Bee cocoons.

This year we have 52 completed tubes:

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These have now been posted off:

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They will let us know by the end of the year how many cocoons are within.

It is always a thrill when a Bird of Prey appears on a trail camera and, a couple of days ago, we had an unprecedented occurrence: three different species all in one day:

A Kestrel at the Ant Paddock pond. I don’t think she drank or bathed but, rather, she just seemed to be investigating:

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A Sparrowhawk at the Strip pond, using it as a paddling pool:

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Nearby there was this sad puddle of feathers:

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And, finally, a Tawny at the wood pond. I love the reflections in the water and I have never before seen an Owl drinking and bathing:

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All three of those birds are absolutely magnificent and it feels such a privilege to be seeing them like this.

This unusual feather below was found on the strip, possibly coming from the Sparrowhawk’s kill. There is a fascinating German website called featherbase.info which shows all the feathers of any bird that you might be interested in (going into Collection/country selection/United Kingdom helps it to be less overwhelming, I find). I will attempt to identify what bird this feather came off.

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The autumn migration is continuing and here is a male Redstart. We only see these birds on passage:

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A female Blackcap:

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And the ringed Whitethroat is still around:

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The large flock of Linnets of many hundred birds continue to billow along the hedgerows, sometimes descending down to the mini ponds:

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Other birds seen at the ponds:

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A pair of bathing Stock Dove
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Stock Doves now clean
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Carrion Crow
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Crow now clean
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Yellowhammer
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A great comparison photo to pin down differences between Wood Pigeon and Stock Dove
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Collared Dove looking like an angel

We haven’t seen many birds on Perch Cam in recent weeks, but I do like this photo below:

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We are approaching the end of the Butterfly year, but here is a wonderful Small Copper photographed in the meadows a few days ago. I don’t think I realised that they had bottle green on them before:

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Badgers need to feed up and put on weight at this time of year, although Earthworms are going to be hard to come by until we get a bit more rain.

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However, while they wait, they might as well keep up with their grooming regime:

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That flexibility of hip is only to be admired.

 

 

 

 

 

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