Saturday, 12 July 2014

Rare this year.

Summer rushes on and it really is being one to remember weather wise, delightful.

Last night I put the auto trail camera at the end of the path across the bean field that leads to the badger sett in the woodland at the edge of the RAF airfield. I scattered a few peanuts and pony nuts and was pleased with the results when I edited the video, shown here:-

There was quite a lot of Fox activity so they are still about in numbers that will be unlikely to survive when winter comes. They tend to hunt alone but often meet. So far they are tolerating each other but when food gets more difficult to find that may change.
 I was delighted to capture just 20 seconds of this gracious visitor.

Roe deer have been a rare sight this year. The wonderful summer weather has allowed the grasses to grow so tall that there is masses of cover for them to hide in and the farmer has not killed the weeds growing in the bean crop. In addition the RAF airfield is fringed with a wide band of wild land; and this has not been cropped for rough hay as in past years, so it may be that they are out there, just not having their photos updated!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

New month - new visitors

The new month began and Barney had a new epileptic fit! Not nice but just one of life's little obstacles. Apparently there is nothing worth doing and he should suffer no harm so I just have to enjoy his company between fits.

Meanwhile, after weeks of virtually nothing on the camera, the latest shots showed that there are interesting animals out there.

The video is here:-

Sorry that the camera misted up early this morning but just think of it as"arty"!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

24 hours at the edge of the woods

There is very little activity at the edge of the woods this summer in comparison to previous years.
I left the camera for 48 hours and captured very little.
The roe deer and the badgers are ranging elsewhere.
Perhaps the work undertaken on deepening and clearing the ditch disturbed their settled routine. We may have to wait a year or two for a new pattern to emerge.

Meanwhile the young fox with the distinctive tail marking (a 2014 cub) is still thriving and the Muntjak stag had a good look at the camera and later nuzzled it, so he is no longer phased by its presence. A female Muntjak also passed by some hours later.

Short video here:-

Meanwhile the Appleyard duck hatched 2 of her eggs and within a day had lost one of the ducklings. Deciding she was not a very good mother I have attempted to integrate the remaining duckling with the 2 call ducklings hatched by the brown hen. initial results look hopeful.

The water lillies on the fish pond are in full flower.

Monday, 16 June 2014

A few heart racing seconds.

Last evening I strolled across the Bean field (via the wild life tracks) with Barney and my tiny HD video camera. Unlike the previous evening (when I did not have the camera) we did not see the 2 Muntjak deer or the Roe deer stag.

Barney is very good at watching deer and will not chase them so long as I tell him to be quiet and watch, but then I know they can easily out run him.

He is trained to chase rabbits (who damage the garden), Squirrels (who pinch the nuts) and foxes (who kill and eat our hens and ducks) but in every case they can out run and out manoeuvre him. And the exercise does him good.

He has only once met a Badger as far as I know and it was a slightly alarming stand off in the pitch black of night. I could not see, but judging by the noises, the badger did not run so Barney did not chase then the Badger made a bolt for freedom and Barney chased half heartedly and came back to me with lots of swagger as if he had won a great battle of will but I think was relieved.

So as we walked along the field hedge towards the Badger Sett I peered through the trees to see two Badger Cubs were up and out of the sett only feet from me and on course to meet Barney within seconds. You can see what happened in the next few moments here:-

Barney was extremely well behaved but it was a while before my heart rate returned to normal.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

June is busting out all over!

This morning Barney and I set off to recover the SD card from the camera on the Badger Sett.
Glorious sunshine!
First he cleared the fish pond of the pesky heron.
Card collected we returned across the bean field and saw a pair of Roe deer down by the woods.
I settled squatting at the end of my mowed path and Barney came and watched with his front paws on my knee so he could see as the Roes slowly made their way towards us on the field margin.
With the firm but light breeze in our faces the deer got to within 15 feet of us before they saw us.
They high tailed it back to the woods and we returned for breakfast.
After which I found I had lots of footage of the Badgers. The cubs are almost full grown and Mum & Dad set about a well deserved cuddle and no doubt considered making some more cubs for next year.

I have a video here:-

Thursday, 5 June 2014

What uses this path?

The camera has been positioned to look at an animal path across the bean field several times recently to see what is using it. Often the results have been poor to bad but then in the last 24 hours I caught loads.

The video is here:-

Monday, 2 June 2014

Busy Weekend

Lots of wild life activity over the weekend plus much work in the garden whilst the sun shone.

There is a video here:-

which caught a visit from one of the fox cubs and his mother, progress as the badger cubs grow and a visit from a new Muntjac stag not seen by us before.

Still not caught on camera but seen often are the Heron and the Sky Lark.

The whirligig beetles are back too.

Flowers everywhere.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

New life and aliens!

The camera still scanning the bean field picked up an alien living among the beans.

What do you think this can be?

This is what we normally see when a fox triggers the camera to shoot.

As the rain continued to fall we watched from the comfort of the lounge as newly hatched blue tits, great tits and a family of 7 Jackdaws fed from our bird feeders.

This white tailed fox has still not worked out how to get the eggs from under the bowl.

Late at night a fox without a white tip to its tail brought three cubs to the camera. There is a short video here:-

Watch the video to see the alien and its mate by the bowl and it is really easy to identify.
Meanwhile the white hen has hatched 4 "silky" chicks overnight and she has changed from a cuddly soft toy into a miniature "Tyrannosaurus Rex" , trying to kill my hand as I removed the spent shells and 2 infertile eggs.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Wet late May day and duck eggs.

The camera picked up a fox roaming about alone. It looks young but not this year's. The cubs and vixen have apparently moved away which is a relief as far as my fowl are concerned.

The daylight lasts from 4am to almost 10pm and the days are still lengthening so there is more chance of seeing the wild animals in full colour but there are not so many about this year, however the local muntjak visited.

There is a short video here:-

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Foxes gone?

It would appear that the vixen has taken her cubs away as we have not seen any sign of them for days.

 This picture (taken with an automatic night vision trail camera) is the only shot of a fox for 24 hours and it did not stay long even with the temptation of 6 duck eggs under the cover. Too soon to relax and let my girls roam free though and they would be bound to dig up my young flowers anyway.

The maternity ward is in full swing with 6 Silkies due to hatch this week to be followed by 6 call ducks, 3 Marron hens, and 4 Appleyard ducks. The doves have 4 youngsters just getting their feathers.

Baby wild Coal Tits, baby Great Tits and a baby Magpie all visited the feeding station yesterday.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Close encounter!

Due to boring Spanish football on the TV and long wet rain showers it was near 9pm when Barney and I went over to the Badger sett to position the camera last night.

The badgers were already awake and beginning to stir and could be seen just inside the sett mouth.
I signalled to Barney to be "quiet" and gradually 4 Badgers emerged. One walked just 6 feet passed me into the trees and towards Barney who was very interested. We were both on the edge of the bean field and there is a thin strip of woodland between it and the airfield. The badgers have paths throughout this strip which are quite impenetrable to me but which Barney can manage with ease.

I was very relieved that he did not bolt in but stayed quietly with me.

We left the camera and the badgers in peace.

You can see the short video I got here: -

We returned for the best 45 minutes of Football I have seen for a long time!!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Unexpected passenger.

I love my simple home life so I go out in my car rarely.
This is most economic and good for the planet but it has an unexpected drawback living on the edge of vast English countryside.

On my latest journey in the car I thought I would use up my Tesco discount and fill the car and some cans (for the garden machines). When I arrived there was a bit of a queue and the sun was in hot blast mode so I thought it would be good to give the aircon a go. Wow! what a strange noise and a lot of vibration from the power plant. I switched it off and opened the windows instead.

Investigation showed that my static vehicle awaiting its call to duty had been accepted by the local wild life as part of their environment and some homeless mouse(?) had started re-cycling the engine insulation and re-using it as a snug nest in the fan chamber!

It's all cleaned out now and works fine. The mouse? No idea but look for him near Tesco's.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Thunder and lightening ... very very frightening!

Quite a quiet wet morning in the garden mainly spent in the poly-tunnel where warm summer could still be enjoyed and we were able to supervise the fowl without excitement. The doves are busy with two pairs of twins to attend. If they mature our flock will number 10. We also have 4 broody hens and a broody duck.
Heavy rain trapped us with them for some time before we were able to return to the house and the joys of daytime TV.

We caught up on the "Tour of Italy" cycle race which was frequently interrupted by mini power cuts as the thunder storms raged all around. Eventually the power went out for good at 4pm. All the neighbours WiFi signals disappeared from my Kindle so I knew it wasn't just us but would anyone have phoned the power company or should I?

Well I did, and they knew and estimated the transformer fault would be cleared by 6:30pm. Having once been an Electrical Engineer who cleared a Transformer fault in a record 5 days by replacing it with a spare I questioned their reasoning but power came back at 6:15pm so it either was not a transformer fault or they have an alternative way of feeding us.

Doesn't it take an age to re-set all the clocks and re-tune the radio?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Near death experience?

Yesterday my morning walk round the garden revealed a bright deep red fox standing in the sheep field watching me. No exercise for the fowls then. They remained confined.

After lunch I supervised a walk and scratch around but needed to visit the greenhouse for some plants. As I started my return the beta cockerel gave his alarm call and all hell broke loose. Three brown hens shot towards me shedding masses of feathers in their wake. Barney barked and shot between the bird accelerating into the distance. The five ducks appeared and walked into their compound slightly nervously. The alpha cockerel was making a fuss in the sheep field. The black and the white hens were very frightened and difficult to coax into their compound. There was a mound of feathers just outside the poly-tunnel!

My hero, Barney is looking forward to the World Cup.
Barney pursued the trail right across the bean field and into the copse on the edge of the airfield. I could see the odd brown feather dropped along the route and assumed that foxy had got one of my girls. We returned and got all the girls home but one. Missing! Gone! Just a pile of soft feathers.

No. We found a perfect, untouched brown hen happy clearing up fallen bird food right by the house, oblivious to any drama.

All returned to their compound a closer inspection revealed that one of the first to go home was short of quite a few feathers but otherwise ok. Another victory for Barney.

I wish I could see the fox's face when he stopped his flight from Barney and set to enjoy his meal only to discover he had a mouth full of feathers without a single chicken nugget!

Heavy rain all night and the camera only showed a blurred Muntjak feeding in the bean field.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Maternity Ward.

The white hen is sitting tight on 6 "silky" eggs which are due to hatch at the end of next week. She is in a rearing house close up by our house to reduce the risk if fox attack.

One brown hen has been settled in another rearing house and I have just given her 6 Call duck eggs.

Both of these clutches were purchased on E Bay and have travelled through the post so fertility is a gamble. The first 6 miniature call duck eggs I purchased this year spent 4 weeks in the incubator but only one reached hatching stage and died before breaking out of the shell. Probably just as well as it had a deformed beak.

Meanwhile 2 other brown hens are in reserve sitting on snooker balls in the hen house and our only duck (a female duck is confusingly a duck whilst a male duck is a drake!) has 2 eggs left in her nest. I removed something like 50 eggs this spring as I cannot allow the duck flock to grow. These ducks were a mistake as I purchased "Appleyards" in stead of Call ducks. They look the same but Appleyards are twice the size and are reluctant to fly so are easily caught by the foxes.

Random placing of the automatic camera shows that the foxes go everywhere around and in the garden at any time of the day or night.

I played a BBC (Tweet of the day) recording of a Garden Warbler to our visiting bird and he seemed very interested but it was not a scientific test and he might have been just as interested in the narrator!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Nature all around

Today we identified the fine song, but dull plumage, of a bird that thrills us with his songs sung at the far (and wild) end of our garden. It is a Garden Warbler. A summer visitor we had not noticed before.
Slightly more exciting I heard the male cuckoo calling. I have not heard that visitor for a good 10 years. Welcome back!

The Badger cubs were very boisterous again and once more knocked the camera over so that I have very little to see except them "play" fighting.

This morning, whilst well down the garden and close to the house the chickens (enjoying a supervised stroll) were attacked by a young fox. The beta cock was grabbed but unharmed as Barney and I rushed to their assistance. The fox dropped the cock and jumped the wire fence clambering through the bushes and escaping. It took a while to round all the fowl up as they were all rather excited bit all were accounted for and secured.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Frost in May

Last night we were warned to protect our baby plants as the weather people predicted frost with temperatures falling to 3C. Actually my thermometer recorded -1.9C (28.6F) so we may have lost some fruit and blossom.
The foxes seemed to know something was not going to be to their liking as there was a lot of calling and on our final walk of the evening Barney found a cub hiding in the bean field. Perhaps the Vixen moved them to a new home. Time will tell.
The camera was by the Badger sett but my positioning was very poor and the shots are  not good as they are mainly of trees!
 However they do show that at around 4am the badger sitting directly under the camera (and occasionally knocking it) was producing thermals with visible water vapour. I have repositioned the camera for today.
A Muntjak was at the bottom of the garden as barney and I went to recover the SD card and Barney sat and watched as it scuttled away to the airfield boundary.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Kill!

The fox cubs world in becoming wilder and larger.
Last night the camera showed all 9 of them fighting over a rabbit; but only one ran off for a meal.

It is also apparent that they are ranging well out into the field.

The video is here:-

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Strawberry delight!

The first strawberry of 2014 was surgically divided into 3 parts and enjoyed by us all last evening at dinner.
This morning the Skylark was singing, the lilac was in flower and the sun was burning off the morning mist.
The game camera had been in the bean field to see if the fox cubs will venture out. See the results here:-
I wonder how long it will be before the fox cubs meet the badger cubs and I hope I get to video it.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Fox cub family

Yesterday I managed to locate my trail camera directly in front of the old lorry box that the vixen is using as a play school for her cubs.
When I recovered the camera this morning I discovered the 4 Gb SD card was full!
I have managed to cut this down to 9 minutes of footage and I have counted 9 cubs.
The skylarks continue to sing.
The weather is true April, showers, hot sun, cold shadow.

Monday, 28 April 2014

"No Photos", said the Badger!

Sunday night / Monday Morning was a relaxed slow moving affair close to the badger sett. There were visits from a nest building Wood pigeon, a mouse, a rabbit and a fox. The adult Badgers appeared between 2200 and 2400 hrs. They seemed very interested in things in the adjacent bean field but nothing interesting was captured on Camera.
Around 4am 2 cubs (now almost adult size) appeared and started a fight which knocked the cammera to look towards the sky and that was that for the rest of the night.
Video is here:-

I may put it on the Fox den tonight.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

April 27 2014

Today started with a trip up the garden towards the automatic wild life camera to recover the SD card but Barney and I stopped off to observe the Fox den and found 4 cubs playing outside. We both watched spell bound for a while until Barney could stand it no more and bounded off to where he thought a cub would appear. They hid and we left.
The camera shows that the badger cubs are growing fast and there appear to be 4.
Todays video is here:-

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Popping Back

I have not made any entries for a long time but I realised that this Blog allows me an easy way to keep a record of the fast pace of my retired life and help me to remember key points. So I thought I would just note a couple of matters from this Spring.

We have identified 5 different Badgers using the newly constructed sett just 200 yards from our garden and the big boar occasionally visits our garden coming quite clos to the house.

Having identified 5 adult foxes visiting the very end of our garden (some several times a day) we have now found 8 cubs living just 40 feet from our garden.

Videos are on You Tube here:-