2005 Notes

Wildlife Notes 2005

Wildlife notes 2005 young stoats were seen playing with each other on the banks of the ponds, one nearly paid for the in attention it was paying to the surroundings with its life, as Molly (our springer spaniel) nearly caught it!. The badgers are now rolling down and eating our wheat, I can see why many farmers do not like them as they do make a mess of a standing wheat crop and also maize crops.  They have been known to take the maize cobs to the extent that there are few maize cobs left in some fields.

The young jays have now fledged with 3/4 young jays being seen on a daily basis not for long however as they will soon disappear from sight into a large cover or wood. We are also seeing young wood peckers, both green and spotted

July 6th 2005

Photograph by Steve Sargent

The latest badger photograph showing 13 badgers out together last Sunday evening

(in fact there were 17 four badgers were out of the cameras view)

SO YOU THINK YOU WORK HARD?

I have watched a pair of robins for about the last four weeks build a nest above our kitchen window and rear 4 young robins with in it, until they fledged (yesterday)

The robins started work before 5am and worked all day every day (rain or shine) with out respite until after 10pm and you thought you worked hard!!

The swallows here are also working exceptionally hard, they are rearing their third brood (hatched in the last two days) as are the moorhens who are sitting on their third batch of eggs. It is a tremendous year for insect eating birds as the weather is complementing the insects breeding

Our badger watcher last week Mr. J Need was sitting in the lower hide with the hide door open about 11pm, waiting for his wife to bring a cup of tea from the Mobile Home. He heard an unusual noise from the door area of the hide, he turned expecting to see his wife with a cup of tea only to see an adult badger had come down the path and was looking at Jonathon through the open door. (at the time there were 8 other badgers out in front of the hide!)

The pond that I had to rescue fish from in 2003 when it virtually dried up has sprung into life. I spotted about 40 multi coloured 2-3inch young fish yesterday (mostly orange)  I guess that they were fry/eggs when the pond reduced to a large puddle and have stayed down in the depths of the pond until the sun has come out this year when they have surfaced to bask

June 24th 2005

15 badgers were seen out together last evening including 6 badger cubs ( 23rd / 24th June), as well as two barn owls and two foxes.

During the day frequent bird visitors include a jay, greater spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, buzzard, kestrel, sparrow hawk, wag tail (grey and pied) most of the tit family, sparrows (house and tree) blackbird, mistle and song thrush, yellow hammer, goldfinch to name but a few of the birds currently being seen here. The usual duck are on the ponds together with coot and moor hens with their 2nd brood of chicks

June 21st 2005

33c yesterday! oppressive heat,  14 badgers were seen out of their sett at one time last night. An occasional visit from a barn owl seemed to make little difference to the badgers. The badgers were however quite argumentative with each other (must be the heat) one of the badgers was seen to be limping away with a bite to his foot which was sustained during one of the arguments. The badger cubs seem to have been born at widely different times this year as some are really small and others at least half grown. The smallest cub is around 12 inches in length and stays with its mother most of the time.

I saw upwards of 200 swifts, house martins and swallows all flying together around our ponds and old barn at lunch time today (Saturday 18th June) they appeared to be having great fun with the swifts performing unrivalled aerobatics

May 21st 2005

The weather has improved some what and temperature has increased to 9c at night (still cold for May) but we now have 6 badger cubs out playing together. One of the cubs is much smaller than the others but makes up for it by being the most boisterous and coming right up to the aperture in the lower hide looking for the elusive peanuts.

May 12th 2005

I found an injured little owl (the owl appeared in shock with no outward sign of any damage) on my early morning dog walk (10th May), I put the owl in a cardboard box for the day with the top closed, In the late evening I put the box out in my enclosed garden where the owl would be safe from predators and left the top open. The little owl had flown when I checked the next morning. This is the second time in three years that I have found little owls that have either flown in to an obstruction or been hit by a sparrow hawk. Fortunately for them on both occasions they have recovered.

-2 C on the night of 10th May I covered my new potatoes but the frost still caused massive damage through the covers I also noticed frost damage to several ash trees whereby the frost has burned the leaves.

Traditionally the young rooks  leave their nests 10th -12th May it was a fine evening on May 10th and a massive commotion was heard from the Traitors Ford rookery. and along the valley toward Sibford Gower. The young rooks had taken to their wings albeit shakily and alighted in trees all along the valley. The raucous calls were from anxious parents and lost young ones  as one parent tried to out call the next parent.

May 7th 2005

a mallard duck (one of the ones that escaped the attentions of the fox) was swimming on one of the ponds with 10-12 newly hatched ducklings this morning at 7am

May 3rd 2005

A few more days and off we will fly

Growing fast

April 29th 2005

NOT THREE but FOUR robin chicks in the nest (see below)

April 28th 2005

All is well with the robins so far

April 27th 2005

The developing robins

April 26th 2005

Latest close up 2005 badger photo taken 22.04.05

Photograph by Debbie and Peter Norris

April 25th 2005

The developing robins

April 6th 2005

We came back from a weeks holiday to find a robin has built a nest in our post box. A tremendous amount of work and all in 7 days. It was extremely fortunate that  I had asked the post man to hold all our mail until we returned, I have now had to redirect the mail for three weeks or so as the robin is now sitting on eggs. I will keep our web site updated regularly on the robins progress.

April 3rd 2005

Very good badger activity all week with 5 to 7 badgers emerging together, there also appears to be a family of foxes taking up residence in the outer part of the top badger sett!!

I (and my three Springer’s) walked past a white fallow deer that was motionless in our wild bird cover at 6-48 am yesterday! The deer knew that I and the dogs were there, the dogs however did not find any scent from the deer even though it was only 5 metres away. I walked quietly by the deer, it did not twitch an ear or blink an eye. The deer was seen again by out current badger watchers this morning along with a much darker deer that blended more successfully into the surroundings.

March 31st 2005

This years second badger cub news update

The first badger cub of 2005 was seen out of the sett at about 10 pm on Saturday 26th March by Elsie and Evan.( current badger watchers) The cub was out of the sett for a about 30 seconds before being ushered back by a concerned mum. The cub was about 6 inches long and totally black and fluffy. (I have never seen a badger cub out of the sett at this time of year) The same evening a barn owl was seen at one of our barn owl boxes.

A wood mouse was seen to pay the ultimate penalty for stealing the badgers peanuts from in front of the badgers nose! The poor mouse was seen to be grabbed in a flash of movement by the badger and then eaten. (very noisily)

March 27th 2005

This years first badger cub news

Our badger watchers (last week) heard badger cubs wittering in one of our setts. The cubs were not allowed above ground by their mother, but they must have been close to the sett entrance to have been heard by our watchers sitting in the hide!

I have received the first 2005 badger photos that were taken last week.

The 2005 badgers emerging from their sett last week

Photographs by Colin Seddon

Thank you for your contribution to our badger watch web site Colin

March 15th 2005

While talking to our badger watchers in yesterday’s sunshine, I noticed a build up of birds wheeling and diving across the sky. I quickly pointed out this phenomenon to our watchers, who were as amazed as I was. We were then treated to a spectacular ten minute display of flying by a mixture of rooks, crows, jackdaws and seagulls not a dozen or so but thousands of them. (I have never seen such a spectacular display before)

March 8th 2005

On this mornings dog walk I saw two buzzards start their morning hunt and two skylarks going through their courting ritual ( they obviously feel that spring is here) no bird song but many many more birds around than a month ago (probably about 4 times as many)

March 5th 2005

Phew what a cold month February was and also the first week of March temperatures down to – 7c with constant snow showers during the day. The badger watching has however remained unaffected with 7 badgers being seen out at one time with lots going on. On one evening recently 7 badgers and 7 fallow deer where seen on the same evening. I thought the white stag (that many of us have seen) seemed to be in two places at once.  I had received sightings of the stag miles apart on the same day! I had put this down to the stag being very active, but no, far more simple than that there are of course two white stags!! They were both seen at the same time on Friday evening.

On my dog walk yesterday mid-afternoon from Whichford (accompanied by Karen & Martin (badger watchers) we were delighted to see two separate herds of fallow deer  4 in one herd and 6 in the other. The white stags were not with either herd. We also saw a hare, heron, pheasant and numerous rabbits not to mention the numerous small birds that seem to be flooding in to breed. We noted the rook population at Traitors Ford getting very busy clearing and tidying up their nests with the odd rook appearing to be sitting on eggs. All of this in one and a quarter hours in the winter/ spring sun, truly a delight to be alive.

February 7th 2005

For the last four days I have been greeted by bird song on my early morning dog walk is spring here? I fear not!

February 3rd 2005

I saw a herd of 8 fallow deer gallop through the farm last Sunday (the white stag was still with them) They jumped our hedges one after another a truly spectacular sight,  and then on Monday 31st Jan @ 7-30am I was treated to the sight of two Roe deer showing them selves in amongst the young trees within the newly planted wood.

The ‘CBF’ badgers are active, with lots of sett digging, bed changing and association going on, I guess that there are now cubs in the sett as some of the badgers seem very nervous and protective. I have just cut all of our grass 2nd February 2005 I do not normally do this until March but if I had left it until then we would have been making hay with it! I have however left it lying on top of the existing grass to encourage slugs for the badgers evening meal.

January 17th 2005

I have now installed two new barn owl boxes and cleaned out the existing box. Interestingly enough it had about 40 to 50 large owl pellets in it. The pellets were all made up of tightly knit mouse fur and bones. I found it most rewarding to find the pellets.  I have seen barn owls around the box but had NO idea that they had been using it that much.

Most of the moorhens have disappeared and yesterday I caught up with what I believe to be the culprit. I found a large black mink  running around in my grain store. It made a big mistake in arguing with Winston my springer spaniel who promptly shook it by the neck and threw it up in the air. It was dead before it hit the ground. If the people who let these vicious killers out into the countryside could have seen how much damage they have done to the wildlife, I am sure they would have second thoughts about giving them their freedom. I have also seen about six feral polecats here this winter they look similar to the mink and just about as vicious. Our rabbit population has diminished by about 75% due to the predation of the mink and polecats, thereby causing a problem for the buzzards who are finding it much tougher to find food.

January 7th 2005

The new year has started well, a mild start to January always helps wildlife with the badgers finding plenty of worms and foxes eating fallen apples. (amongst other things) I am walking my dogs in the dark early morning and evening. While walking I have heard foxes calling to each other presumably sounding each other out with a view to finding a mate. I have also heard all three of our local owls (barn tawny & little) calling to each other. The piping screeching, and woo wooing, goes on around the year but rarely have I heard all three on a 40 minute dog walk. I also heard a Muntjac bark several times. The small deer was very close by me but neither I could see it or the dogs smell it as they made NO attempt to find or chase it. (I am pleased to say)

I have completed the two barn owl boxes and lofted them in to what I hope are suitable positions (time will tell)

I am grateful to Mark Barnes for the donation of an old office desk from which we made the two owl boxes. The pedestal parts of the desk  were just the right size and with a little modification from my two sons were soon turned into owl, boxes.

Note the easy clean bottom draw

The above photograph was sent to us (December 2004 ) by Mr. & Mrs. Caines December 2004 the photograph was taken from the path way leading down to our lower hide, during May 2004.