Now that the country stutters forward in its return to normality, I have resumed my fortnightly trips back to Berkshire to visit my father. Whilst there I always try to go birding with a friend to the Spade Oak nature reserve near Marlow – a flooded gravel pit, next to a sewage works but always with something of interest.
This time our visit was a little bit more interesting than we had hoped for when we spotted a Greylag Goose entangled in fishing line under a low hanging Willow, but too far out in the water for us to reach.
We phoned Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital and, within the hour, a volunteer had arrived to assess the extent of the problem:
Within three hours, permissions had been sought and received and a rescue team arrived and launched a boat onto the lake although by then we had left. It was all a success and the bird was taken back to the hospital for treatment.
How absolutely wonderful it is that there are organisations to call on like that for wildlife emergencies – they are one of my favourite charitable causes.
Back again in East Kent, the Swifts continue to bombard the nest boxes but, so far as we can tell, they are not going in:
I have managed to establish that there are three Fox cubs in the meadows this year. The one-eyed vixen has twins:
And the other vixen has a single cub:
The camera up by this second vixen’s den has been catching her bringing in prey. Often it’s not possible to see what the prey is but there was no mistaking this Rabbit:
Look at the Old Gentleman now. He is just starting to be able to put some weight on his bad front paw but all the fur has gone from his tail. I have treated him for mange twice this spring and am hoping that this fur loss relates to before these treatments. If I see the fur loss area spreading, I will have to contact the Fox Project charity again and see what they suggest. He’s such a worry.
There are two just-fledged Magpies being very demanding in the meadows:
The ringed female Blackbird is still building her nest, of course. It has been weeks now. The nest must be very close to this gate because I have so many photos like this:
And the pair have been mating, so are laying eggs:
Other photos from the meadows this week:
Over in the wood, I went to collect the camera that is trained on the Green Woodpecker hole and could hear the young softly churring within. They have hatched! We hope to go and digiscope the nest in the next few days to see if we can get get some better quality images now that the adults will be going backwards and forwards with food for their chicks.
Meanwhile, Great Spotted Woodpecker chicks have already fledged. One of the young has a Cormorant-like technique to dry off after visiting the bath. It was pictured doing this several times so perhaps the water is too deep for it and it is getting over-wet.
The courtship display of the male Pheasant involves spreading out his tail and pulling down his wing towards the female:
We visited our local chalk cliffs again this week. Our suspicions that Peregrine Falcons are nesting there this year were confirmed when we saw one coming back with prey, its calls echoing around the cliffs:
Its arrival back at the nest was greeted with the excited noises of its chicks so the eggs have hatched.
Another adult was sitting close by:
The cliff-nesting House Martins were also busy taking food to their young:
We think this is a recently fledged Rock Pipit – it had all the feel of being parked somewhere by its parent:
No Mow May has now finished when the country was being encouraged to leave its lawns uncut for the benefit of pollinators and other invertebrates. I have to say that I like the look of a wilder, more flowery, lawn especially if it is set off by a neatly cut edge or path.
Some friends have gone a stage further by removing an area of their turf from their lawn last autumn and sowing a mixture of annual and perennial meadow flower seeds.
It looks spectacular and is busy with visiting bees.
We are about to have a marquee up on our own lawn for our daughter’s wedding next weekend, postponed from last September and now with only a fifth of the number of guests. I will have to wrench my attention from wildlife matters for a while and focus on the matter in hand…