New Arrivals

The cliffs stretching southwards towards Dover at a very high tide

On a visit down to our nearby chalk cliffs this week, we discovered with joy that the small colony of cliff-nesting House Martins have at last arrived and are building their nests. This same overhang of the rock had a nest last year, although it was then washed off by the weather over the winter. Now it has been rebuilt using around one thousand beakfuls of mud:

This puddle is replenished by waves breaking over the sea wall at high tide and beak marks can be seen in the wet mud as the birds gather it up to build their nests.

The same puddle from last year, taken by the the Bird Ringer:

Lots of noisy Fulmars nesting
Rock Pipit on the sea wall

We didn’t see Kestrels this time but talked to a birder who had seen the male coming in with a vole shortly before we arrived. The female Kestrel emerged from the nest to eat the vole and so is presumably still on eggs or with very young chicks. Excitingly, we also think we saw a Peregrine fly into a cavern in the cliff. It all happened so fast and we hadn’t quite gathered our wits but we will be watching for this now.

It is the time of year when Fox cubs start emerging from the protection of the overgrown hedgerows and cliff where they have their dens. In anticipation of this, we put cameras close to places where historically there have been dens to see if we could see the cubs as they emerge. Up at the top of the second meadow, at 7pm one evening, the female comes out to see if the coast is clear:

Then the male and their single cub emerge:

The male is attentive of every step of the cub’s inaugural trip out onto the big wide world:

Here is the same cub bouncing along behind its mother a couple of days later:

A different camera caught the vixen making her way back to her den with a Wood Pigeon

This morning we came across a freshly-eaten fish skeleton in the grass:

When I went through the videos taken overnight near the Badger sett, I saw the mother fox carrying a Dogfish at 1am..

..and a probable Whiting at 2am and it was the skeleton of this second fish that we had found. There was possibly a naive or inattentive fisherman down on the beach last night.

The Old Gentleman Fox seems forever in the wars and now he has hurt his front paw. How can he catch prey when he is hopping along on three legs?

He may be in a bit of a state but he is unprecedented here for how tame he is

This next photo is from the depths of winter in mid December. The Mahonia was flowering enthusiastically at this time of year and was being visited by a stream of Buff-tailed Bumblebees. These bees often attempt a winter generation here in the south of the country, fuelled by such winter-flowering garden plants.

Very cheering in dull and drab December and a wonderful scent as well

This same Mahonia is now covered in berries that birds find delicious. I put a camera on it to catch them at it:

There were many visits to the plant by Blackbirds. However, eating the berries does have a distinctive side effect for them:

Blue droppings all around

By providing insects with food through the winter and then supplying birds with delicious berries in May, surely Mahonia is worth considering for any wildlife-friendly garden?

We saw some Goldfinch probing open old Dandelion heads with their beaks to get at the seeds:

There is also a little group of fledgling Goldfinch around – they have colour on the wings but still with a brown head.

Song Thrush are well known for eating snails:

But here is also one with a mouth full of worms, hopefully to feed to young:

Song Thrush at the Badger sett

Other photos from around the meadows this week:

You know it is Buttercup season when your footwear and the dog’s white paws are coloured yellow
Our fourth and final Swift box has now got House Sparrows nesting in it as well. No box is left available for Swifts although we are still playing their calls up into the sky. Perhaps this is irrelevant anyway because we are yet to see any Swifts come close to the boxes and there seem to be very few around
Slow Worn shedding its skin
There are so many Slow Worms and Lizards under the sampling squares this year. Perhaps they are having a good year or maybe it has been cold and they are needing to warm up
This magnificent female Sparrowhawk came in for a drink
The smaller male
There has been canoodling on this same gate…..
….followed by some nest building
The homing pigeon is still with us. Perhaps we are now its new home
I have just been seeing the male Grey Partridge on his own for the last couple of weeks and hope this means that the female is on eggs.
Fledgling Yellowhammer
And fledging Magpie still with a bit of a gape and a short tail.
Small Yellow Underwing Moth.
Green Long-horn Moth
Cantharis rustica
Chrysolina banksii. Mainly a coastal species feeding on ribwort plantain leaves
The Large Narcissus Fly (colour form equestris). This fly is a bumblebee mimic whose larvae grow in daffodil bulbs and other wild narcissus plants

We rarely see Deer in the wood but a Roe Deer has visited this week:

This is the first time we have seen a Roe Deer here and he is very different to the Red Deer we saw a few times last summer:

Red Deer hind last year
The absolutely enormous male Red Deer male last year

Another family of Fox cubs have started exploring in the new part of the wood:

Adult Fox carrying Squirrel prey
Buzzard

And finally a wary Rabbit in the wood – potential prey for both the Fox and the Buzzard!

3 thoughts on “New Arrivals

  1. It does look like Summer is on its way. Lovely to see the fox cub. Hope the old gent gets better. He does look as though he has adopted you guys almost. X

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