2007 Notes

Wildlife Notes 2007

2007 INPUTS OF BADGER-WATCH NEWS (written by Richard Butt)

A little owl box and a tawny owl box are under construction and hopefully will be in situe by 14th Jan 08 NOW BOTH CONSTRUCTED AND IN their elevated POSITIONS (AS OF 31st December 2007)

December 31st 2007

The final badger-watch of 2007, last night I was entertained by 7 adult badgers on a still mild evening with intemittent light rain. The badgers all looked clean and in good condition. I also saw a fallow and two roe deer.

December 26th 2007 (sunny and mild with a gentle breeze)

Mild with heavy overnight rain on the 24th December, 25th dark wet and dismal until the 4-30pm dog walk when the sky cleared and the setting sun was visible for 15 minutes.

The little owl box is now in situe 12 feet up a mature ask tree and the tawny owl box is under construction.

December 22nd 2007

The badgers were right it rained this afternoon !

temp night before last-7 C

I saw a pair of peewits (plovers) on my morning walk! It is very unusual to see them here on the ground. I also shared my walk with a very dark coloured fox that was so busy stalking a pheasant that he failed to notice me until I was within feet of him. The wild bird covers are begining to look rather bare but still hold many varieties of wild birds, from wrens to thrushes. (in size) All of the raptors (buzzard, kestrel and sparrow hawk) are busy and easier to see as they appear much braver when hungry.

December 19th 2007

temp last night-1 C

It is going to rain? the badgers were out last night and changed their bedding, two bales of straw went underground last night and they always use the change in the weather to change bedding. The badgers also found the grapes and bananas that were past their sell by date that I left out for them last night concealed under a large tree stump.

On my early morning walk 7am I saw a snipe,mallard duck, moorhen, coot,magpie,two fighting robins and lots more. (It was a delight to be outside and watch the countryside wake up and be relatively wind free)

December 13th 2007

Cold and frosty for the last four nights with clear sunny days.

I saw a barn owl this morning at 7-30 am as it returned to roost in the barn owl box which is situated 14 feet up a fairly large ash tree in the midst of the badger setts. I have been seeing a buzzard and a kestrel sitting in adjacent trees soaking up the sun while on the look out for prey. From my observations they were both feeding of the ground their prey being either insects or worms.

The badgers have now taken both bales of straw that I left out for them under ground and will be receiving another two bales very shortly.

December 5th 2007

We had a month travelling aorund the southern hemisphere and my overiding impression was how much more wild life we have per acre in the uk compared to anywhere else that we travelled. I have come back suitably refreshed and keen to put more wildlife habitat and food sources in place.

The weather is wet and windy but mild.

I have put straw bales out for the badgers to change their bedding this week and have started constructing tawny and little owl boxes which will be placed around the farm in suitable positions.

November 1st 2007

The weather was warm, still and almost balmy.

The first badger was out at 5pm followed by two more ten minutes later, a barn owl appeared from the owl box and was joined by two more from parts unknown. One of this years owlets was obviously learning to shriek but unfortunately it sounded more like a warbled hiss! A fox walked by the hide about 5 meteres away without a look at the hide or it having any suspicion that I was in there. I also glimpsed a little owl that perched close by and I listened to it pip for several minutes.

After an hour the light faded and I retired to the top hide and was entertained by 4 badgers a bat and lots of flying insects I finished my badger watch at 1910hrs (far to early) to go and pack my case!

The next update will be December 4th 2007 (hopefully)

October 29th 2007

The weather has been wet and windy over the week end but today the sun is out with a clear view of 19 miles to Broadway Tower.

On Thursday morning two fawns were seen just outside the Mobile Home eating the fallen Damsons while a fallow deer stag looked on from within the cover of a wild bird crop (currently 3 metres high) grunting his displeasure to all of those prepared to listen. This years badger-watch is now drawing to a close and we will be spending December to February replacing trees that the deer have destroyed and adding 5 or 6 fruit trees including a Warwickshire Drooper, a St Julien A, (both plum trees) an Ingrid St Julien A (Almond ) an Uvedals’s St Germain (pear) and two damson (late fruiting) trees. We have also been given fir, chesnut, beech, scented poplar.and pussy willow trees that will be planted at the same time as the fruit trees. Two large ash trees that were blown down in last years storms will be brought here and incorporated into our badger playground, hopefully for next years badger-watch.

October 20th 2007

Three sunny days since 16th with overnight frost

14 badgers out at once last night, 2 roe deer hinds with a fawn and a roe stag entered the badger arena sending the badgers back to their setts for a minute or two, once the badgers had asessed the situation the badgers came back out and put the deer to flight! An adult barn owl was seen hunting prey.The previous evening (19th Oct) 3 of this years barn owl fledglings gave a flying display for half an hour that would have competed with the Red Arrows aerobatic team.

The College Barn Farm badgers have been busy, to all of those that say badgers are a pest ! quite the opposite is true, below is a photograph of a large wasp nest that the badgers dug up yesterday for the grubs it contained. The 500mm nest ended up being completely destroyed.

The badgers involved would not have got away unscathed as the wasps within although drowsy would not have given up without a fight and I am sure many stings would have been inflicted around the badgers mouth.

October 16th 2007

Overnight rain with more rain to come

While on my 7-30 am dog walk I was delighted to see a white fallow deer with its fawn exiting our wild bird cover ( The wild bird cover is 3 metres high) the fawn still retained its spotted upper coat and would be I guess 9-10 months old.

October 14th 2007

The weather is overcast, mild and still

I saw a Jay this morning along with 7 pheasants, 19 pied wagtails and numerous rooks crows and jackdaws all enjoying breakfast of a recently ploughed field. I also saw a buzzard sparrow hawk and kestrel looking on with interest!

October 10th 2007

Weather is fine after one days rain, The weasel has been seen this week as well as a comorant (tucking into the fish on one of the ponds) The badgers have been seen everywhere and have dug along the side of the concrete path one meter from the Mobile Home (while the occupants were asleep)

Three barn owls have been seen regularly, so it is likely that the last brood consisted of one surviving owlet

October 4th 2007

The weather is calm with very light winds and a heavy over night dew

18 badgers (out together), four deer (two roe deer and two fallow deer, one with antlers that looked like christmas trees!!!) and the barn owls were seen on the evening of 2nd October. There has been lots of leather jacket hunting being carried out over the past few nights by badgers who are very adept at removing the turf to find the leather jackets, but useless at putting the turf back again!!

September 24th 2007

Wet and windy followed by lots of showers but still mild

Steve Sargent has managed to take this amazing photograph of the barn owl about to feed owlets on 20th September 2007. Many thanks to Steve for sharing the experience with us!

Steve Sargent's triple-badger photograph

September 21st 2007

Windy and changeable with occasional showers

Four badgers and a barn owl.

After using yesterday as an essential maintenance day for our badger-watch facilities, I went to see how the College Barn Farm badgers were fairing. I arrived at our new hide at 19:05 hrs and the badgers were already out and about! Within 5 minutes of me entering the hide, there were heads popping up from sett entrances all around the hide. By 19:45 a barn owl (i think one of this year’s fledglings) landed on the roof of the hide and proceeded to observe four badgers who were going about their business in front of their setts. The barn owl then hopped onto the corner of the open hide-window and peered in at me from about twelve inches away. I remained motionless but continued looking at the owl which appeared to be in superb condition and a truly wonderful sight! Eventually the owl flew off to the nearest ash tree. I changed hides at 20:00hrs as in my haste I had forgotten to switch the floodlight on before going to the hide earlier on. It was not long before the badgers (about 6) came up to see if there was anything to eat. I had a fairly short badger-watch and had to leave the hide at 21:00 hrs as duties called. The badgers were slightly skittish and wary due to a fairly strong wind.

September 18th 2007

Sunny days and even colder nights

The badgers are changing bedding which is normally a sign of imminent rain. They are emerging earlier than usual, probably due to the fact that it has been dry for a month depriving them of earthworms which form part of their diet. They are eating lots of blackberries. These taste nice but have nowhere near the food value of earthworms.

September 13th 2007

The weather is still fine and sunny during the day with cool to cold nights and a heavy morning dew

A family of 4 weasels were seen playing in and around the log pile close to our Mobile Home from a distance of 2 metres by our current visitors. The weasels appeared completely oblivious to our visitors who were entertained by them for ten minutes or more before the weasels moved on. So far this week, up to 20 badgers have been seen out at one time. Observations have also been made of a kestrel, blackcap, yellow hammer, green and greater-spotted wood peckers, buzzard, gold finches and lots of what I call “little brownies” (unidentified small birds) starting to feed on the ripening wild-bird mix. The barn owls definitely have another brood in the owl box as they have been seen taking food to the owlets on a regular basis, starting from about 7-15pm. The owlets greet their parents’ contributions with an audible hiss!

Global warming? We have a mountain ash tree with new leaves and flowers while it is also carrying ripe red berries!

September 10th 2007

Ross, a young firservice man, was visiting last week and in true tradition of the service he “watched the badgers out” at 7 pm and he “watched them come back” at 5am (the next day). He had an early breakfast in the hide and watched a fox stalk a rabbit and a young deer pass through the badger sett area. He said “The previous evening the barn owls became active at 7-15pm with 15 badgers out directly underneath the owl box.” It must have been difficult to know which way to look! Thanks Ross for the emerging ‘dirty badger’ photo (below)

The weather is still fine, heavy overnight dew, early morning mist, sunshine by midday

August 28th 2007

Fine weather for the last week. 20 badgers seen together on the evening of the 26th August and 14 badgers on 25th August 2007.

The local fallow deer completely wrecked our almond tree which is situated 10 metres from the mobile home on the night of the 27th August! Our vistitors, who were sleeping 14 metres away, heard nothing!

I spotted 7 buzzards in a thermal on the 27th August. They were flying from a height of about 300 metres to nearly out of sight (about 2000 metres+?).

We have three very noisy green woodpeckers feeding off the ants on our various lawned areas. The fledgling is easily recognised as it has yet to gain the woodpecker full green and red colouration.The barn owl has been seen regularly coming and going from the owl box with the exception of the last two evenings. I was hoping for a second brood of owlets but I am now a little doubtful.

August 16th 2007

Fine weather over the last three evenings have produced some excellent results with 21 adult badgers having been seen at one time last night; 15 on Sunday evening and 17 on Saturday evening, along with 13 badger cubs. It seems the two smallest (which are very small compared to the others) are the most aggressive.

We have recently had several sightings of fallow deer with fawns and also roe deer with prancing fawns, all from the new summer hide. Two of the three owlets fledged and have now departed the owl box! One of the adult barn owls was seen (last night) coming and going regularly from the box. Could there be another hatching of barn owl chicks I wonder?

July 27th 2007

One night’s rainfall below

June 18th 2007

It has been wet and windy over the past few days; the rain is not helping the College Barn Farm barn owls to feed their young. They have a brood of hissing young owlets in one of our barn owl boxes. While the owlets remain quiet during the day, they need to be constantly fed during the evening/night. The noise emanating from the box as a parent arrives is quite astonishing (loud hissings and scratching!). The parents have been seen flying and hunting during the rainstorms (which is quite unusual as their feathers easily become water-logged) to try an assuage the owlets’ hunger. So far, so good. The louder the hissing and the scratchings, the healthier and bigger they must be. Whilst we cannot see inside the box, the owl-box is under observation from a nearby hide so, hopefully the fledging of the owlets will be observed in due course.

The badgers have  8 cubs in three litters: a litter of 5 cubs, another litter of 2 cubs, and one female with the tiniest cub that we have seen above ground in 18 years (less than 10 inches long!). The larger cubs were having great fun last week in the evening sunlight chasing pheasants through the trees. There were sounds of clucking from the cock pheasant and gruntings from the badger cubs that seemed to go on around the wood for several minutes with the pheasant appearing briefly at times above the long grass before the badger cubs and pheasant appeared back at where they had started from. The pheasant looked indignant, strutting around with loud clucks and the badger cubs looked for more fun elsewhere. It all seemed like good fun for the badger cubs and for those watching. Brief appearances from tawny and little owls were also logged. I nearly trod on a basking grass snake yesterday (around 3ft in length). The snake quickly uncoiled and disappeared into one of our ponds and swam away into the reeds.

May 27th 2007

The badger emergence last night consisted of 14 adults and 8+ cubs all out at one time in front of the floodlight. The weather was fine with no wind.

I saw a very pregnant weasel while walking my dog yesterday. Fortunately MollyDog did not notice its scent and it disappeared into some tree stumps that I had left as cover for the smaller species. I was absolutely delighted to see the resident barn owl hunting across one of our set-aside fields at 9-10pm last night. The owl made three strikes before it acheived success. I was not able to see what it caught but it flew back in the direction of the owl box, presumably to feed its chicks. I was quite surprised to see the owl flying as it was raining (lightly) and barn owls do not normally fly when it’s raining .

Our wild-bird cover is now planted and consists of White Millet, Maize, Quinoa, Phacelia Kale (thousand headed) Buckwheat, Forage Rape, Sweet Clover and Zita Mustard – a veritable feast for the bird population later on this year.

May 15th 2007

Well the raindance worked and we have now had around 2 inches of rain in 8 days. The badgers have virtually stopped digging up our lawn as they are now finding plenty of ‘easier-to-find’ food. Last night’s badger-watch included a muntjac, fox, barn owl, roe deer, 12-14 adult badgers and 8 cubs from three females. A brief sighting of one tiny cub accompanying its mother across the field at 9pm was a delight to see. The other 7 cubs did not emerge until 00-05am, but when they did it was an experience not to be missed. What fun they had!!!

May 11th 2007

Below is the unedited content of an email received this morning from Ann and Paul Rasinsky who stayed here recently.

Just to say thank you so much for our wildlife experience – albeit short and sweet.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and, to be honest, we don’t believe it is all real.  We are quite sure it is Disney animatronics.  Within 15 mins of settling down, on stage came the first badger, to be followed by two more.  Then, entering stage right came a roe deer who stayed for some 15/20 mins rubbing itself on your walnut tree!  Badgers gradually appeared on stage and we spotted barn owl wings close to their nesting box.  A fox made its way down the field, stage right.  This was probably all within 30/40 mins.  Can’t be real.  Badgers appeared in numbers and then there was a slight lull.

Just as we thought all the fun was over I leaned forward to discover a badger on the log that leads from the hide to the other logs.  At the same time two more badgers appeared on the logs.  We then had 3 badgers on the logs munching noisily in front of us – more badgers appeared from the setts, including several babies.  To cap it all the barn owl flew onto the walnut tree and stayed there a while before flying directly over the hide.   At this point we saw 12 badgers, including the young ones.  For a while we didn’t know where to look first.

The fox put in several morel appearances and we saw it catch something at the bottom of the field. More badgers eventually climbed the logs.  To cap it all there are 28 lb carp in the pond from the rear window of the hide.  It must all be done with mirrors!

April 30th 2007

14 badgers were out and about by 8-30pm, 5 cubs appeared between 9-10pm. NO badger-cub photographs have been obtained yet!

The weather is still very dry with very hard soil conditions so the badger population will be struggling to find enough to eat. Earthworms are not rising to the soil surface and it is too hard to dig for the badgers to get leather-jackets. The College Barn Farm badgers are now so hungry they come running instead of running away when you rustle the peanut bag! Last Saturday night they scoffed 5 kilos of peanuts!

April 23rd 2007

6 climbing badgers on the logs over last weekend (photographed by Mark and Jack Quinney)

Current badger emergence 7-00pm in DAY LIGHT first badger out at 6pm

April 22nd 2007

It is now so dry that the badgers are really struggling to get enough food to survive as the earth worms are not coming to the surface and the ground is getting too hard to dig for leather-jackets etc! I have had several conversations with disgruntled villagers who have had their garden raided over the past week by hungry badgers! I asked them if they were starving and if they were wouldn’t they go raiding gardens for food.
It will be the youngest badgers (ie the cubs) who will suffer first; if their mothers cannot get enough to eat they will stop producing milk and at this stage the cubs are nearly 100% reliant on their mother milk.
The College Barn Farm badgers are also hungry and as a result the emergence which should be 8-30pm is now anywhere between 6-7pm with around 18 badgers being around at any one time. It was interesting to note that last Tuesday a badger heard a peanut hit the grass from 15 – 18 metres away.
Two days of rain would solve the badgers problem, it is forecast lets just hope that it falls.

Current badger emergence 7-40pm in DAY LIGHT

April 18th 2007 temp =18c Sunny day with a cool north wind

I had a delightful evening watching the College Barn Farm badgers and other wildlife last night. I entered the hide at 7-10 pm on a very quiet sunny evening after leaving rewards for the emerging badgers in various places. The first badgers nose appeared at 7-15 pm and fully emerged into evening sunlight at 7-40 pm three other badgers also emerged and proceeded to visit the feeding places, a Cock Pheasant crossed paths with one of the badgers who proceeded to chase the Pheasant around the plantation with appropriate vocals being heard from both parties. The badger and the Pheasant ended up back where they started and then went about their own business. I was quietly joined in the hide by Sandra at 8-05pm. There were 8 badgers out by then and none of them showed any sign of being aware that she had just come into the hide. A fox then made its way through the floodlit area (I guess it was looking for rabbits) as the evening became darker more badgers appeared until there were 14 out in front of the hide with three badgers on the log directly in front of the hide (three feet away) and 8 badgers underneath! Sandra saw a barn owl enter the barn owl box while I was being distracted by 7 very noisy Canada geese flying in low pass past the badger hide. Unfortunately we had to leave the hide before the badger cubs had emerged which was annoying as I would have liked to have seen them. (four badger cubs at the moment)

I saw the white fallow deer on her own at Traitoors Ford cover last evening at 5-15pm

Badger emergence 7-45pm

April 13th 2007 temp =17c overcast day with a cool N.W. wind

The first swallow was spotted on 11th April 10 days earlier than last year and the first two badger cubs were brought up by their mum on the evening of the 10th April and each evening since.

I saw a big buck hare at 6-30am on Monday morning (that had obviously come of the worst in a boxing match) quartering one of our fields looking for a mate, he checked the whole field and moved on in less than five minutes. We do not normally see hares this side of the valley.

April 2nd 2007 temp =15c bright sunny day with a cool N.W. wind

The badger emergence started at 7-45pm with 14 badgers putting in an appearance at one time. A pair of jays and a pair of little owls were seen’ paired up’ a deep red fox (in absolutely first class condition) was also seen today hunting the wild bird cover.

March 27th 2007 temp+10c afternoon sunshine preceeded by fog. The evening of Monday 26th 14 badgers emerged at one time three of them lactating females, Barn owls were seen emerging from one of our owl boxes and the song thruses continue to seranade me while on my early morning dog walk around the farm. Three thrushes singing this morning that is a 300% increase from last year.

Badger emergence 7-30pm

March 19th 2007 temp -1c windy gusting to 30 mph and feeling very cold due to the wind factor.

The wind did not stop the badgers from emerging but they were much more wary and not so many out at one time.

The local fallow or roe deer seem to be damaging my 2 year old trees with their antlers, having broken off 10 trees in the last three days and removing the bark from several others.

March 14th 2007 temp 13c no wind and a nice sunny day. 19/20 adult badgers were seen at one time last night (a record for this time of the year) a fox, tawny owl and a muntjac also visited the floodlit area between 7pm and 11pm

March 13th 2007 Temp 13 c slight over night frost, no wind and a lovely sunny day.

While walking my dogs with Jim and Val (our current visitors) we briefly saw 7 fallow deer including the white doe,we also saw lots of wild birds (22 different species)

13 badgers emerged at one time last Saturday night with lots of family assosciation going on, some of it very intimate!!

March 6th 2007 Temp +10c 2.5 inches of rain fell in two days, two of my ponds overflowed their banks and the brook/river Sib next door expanded from 2.5 metres to 25 metres.

The badgers emerged on time and with out undue concern climbed all of the logs and appeared to not be concerned about the pouring rain

The river Sib flowing to Traitors Ford looking like a river instead of the brook that it is

Two of four ponds

4th March 2007

I have cleared the area adjacent to our top hides and replanted the area with laurels (two varieties) and cobnuts (ten varieties) Hopefully the laurels will give cover to the ground nesting birds, including the moorhens, and act as a wind break.

Temp. 5c, windy and wet after a cool night with an eclipse of the moon which we observed clearly around 11 pm on 3rd March.

28th February 2007

Temp. 6.5c, showers and windy (gusting to 40 mph). I saw 14 fallow deer in the field next to our plantation this morning at 7.15 am. Amongst the herd were the white deer and her year-old fawns. I also noticed 4 black and tan one-year-old fawns. All of the deer appeared to be having a problem getting back across the brook (river Sib) which had burst its banks. I saw them up to their knees in the water. They then retreated out of sight. The river/brook water was 2-3 metres deep and 5- 30 metres wide. The badgers emerged just after dark last night but were very skittish in the gusting wind. Three of the above deer put in an appearance along with a barn owl.

25th February 2007

Temp. 7.5c with intemittent showers, wind light from South-East. A barn owl, fox and kestrel were all seen early last evening, followed by 8 badgers (at one time). Apparently the badgers enjoyed the rain (but it was peanuts raining on them not rain drops!).

23rd February 2007

Badger emergence 6.30 pm, temp 10c, no wind – an excellent evening to watch badgers. There was bed-changing, grooming and lots of badger ‘vocals’ going on for most of the evening. A barn owl was seen for an hour or so hunting aorund the plantation.

I saw a roe deer just as it saw me at 7.10 this morning. I stopped to watch it and it jumped the hedge and disappeared into Traitor’s Ford cover.

18th February 2007

The first badger emerged at 6.01 pm and disappeared into the darkness. A few minutes later it was back with straw bedding. This process was repeated several times and was imitated by badgers at two other setts. It is obviously going to be wet. Badgers are brilliant weather forecasters! They seem to know when it it is going to be wet; later on that evening it rained. It was not long before I saw four badgers on the logs and four others within the limit of the flood-light, with so many other badgers coming and going that I lost count of the individuals I had seen. The badgers on the ground were digging out soil from their setts and never going too far from the sett entrances. I guess there are badger cubs below; time will tell.

17th February 2007

I was late into the hide last night (6.45pm). The badgers were already up and when they heard me open the hide door and went back to their setts very quickly! They emerged again about 10 minutes later. As the evening went on I saw five badgers emerge from one sett who started to groom each other. Then two badgers proceeded to mate in front of the other three badgers. That’s the first time in 16 years that I have ever seen badgers mating!

There were badgers coming and going from two other sett entrances for over an hour. It seemed that a ‘guard’ was left just inside the sett entrance, as any badger that didn’t belong to the family group who appeared too close was put to flight with a quick badger dash from the sett, followed by a bite in the interloper’s rump! I also saw a barn owl for a few seconds hunting over the plantation. Badger-watch ended at 8.45 pm. Temp. 8c.

16th February 2007

I counted 23 out of 28 badger-sett entrances in the field below the main hide that were being used the morning after the last snow fall. How could I be so sure that it was badgers using the entrances? The badger spoor (footprint) is unmistakeable and, as the badgers emerged, they left dirty footprints in the snow whereas the fox and rabbits left smaller clean footprints.

The badger bridge is working well and the badgers have accessed all parts of it from all three access points. Their agility is amazing!

The badgers must have known that wet weather was coming as they changed their bedding again last night (another bale of straw went down the sett).

I spotted two yellow-hammers among lots of smaller varieities of birds this morning. A male chaffinch has started to peck/fight with its reflection in our car wing-mirror every day. I wonder if it is the same chaffinch that was performing a similar routine last year. In any event it is a sure sign that their breeding season is imminent.

8th February 2007

The difference a day makes

The new 2007 badger ‘bridge’ which the badgers scaled last night before it snowed.

8th February 2007

Temp -9c on 7th February. 15cm snow blowing in the east wind today, 8th February. No global warmiing here today! I am very glad we managed to finish moving and reconstructing the badgers’ adventure playground yesterday. It looks completely different today, covered in snow!

6th February 2007

Temp -5c last night, a hard white frost everywhere but the badgers emerged and dug through the hard ground with no trouble at all. Foxes took two ‘mixy’ rabbits from in front of the hides last night befiore they froze solid. I was suprised that the badgers showed no interest in them at all – just a quick sniff and off to parts unknown

31st January 2007

Temp -3c last night after a fine day. Four badgers emerged around 9 pm and did lots of digging and bed changing. I saw seven fallow deer in our trees including a white one last evening at 5.15 pm. They all looked fit and healthy as they jumped a 5ft hedge! The greater-spotted wood pecker is using both bird feeders although they are 300 yards apart; as I fill one feeder it flies off to the other feeder.

We also have great and blue tits, greenfinches and chaffinches using the feeders and quite a few other varieties of bird picking up the dropped food from the feeders.

24th January 2007

The first snowfall of the winter- 2 inches of snow fel,l starting at 1 am 24th January. The badgers were out and about from 2-3 am and left many tracks in the fresh snow to prove it. Temp. last night -3c.

18th January 2007

80 mph winds have destroyed the magnificient beech tree situated at the top of our drive. Temp. +9c.

I intend to plant ten more beech trees this week to compensate for the loss …

17 January 2007

I am seeing Roe and Fallow deer every day while walking my dogs, but not together. Last night there were five fallow deer in Traitor’s Ford copse and this morning there were two roe deer amongst my tree plantation. A thrush is still singing to those who want to listen, accompanied by the warning /territorial call of a robin as I walk by on my afternoon/evening dog walk. The sun came out yesterday for the second time this month.

16 January 2007

The College Barn Farm badgers have taken two urther bales of straw under ground in the past two days (while the weather was relatively fine).

I have been hearing foxes barking/calling to each other during the day and early evening over the past two weeks. I guess they are pairing up ready to produce this year’s fox cubs. The foxes need a good supply of rabbits to feed their cubs and there are not so may rabbits around at the moment due to many of them having Myxomatosis.

11 January 2007

Another wet windy and warm week with winds gusting to 60 mph, temp. about 8c. The badgers have made limited emergences over the past week, but have managed to change their bedding with two bales of dry straw that I provided for them.

Badger and wildlife watching observations for 2006 have now been moved ready for 2007 inputs of badger-watch news

27th December 2006

The weather over Christmas remained calm but cloudy and frost-free which is important to badgers as they are able to obtain worms, leather jackets, etc from the soil. Badgers have been emerging from their setts between 11.30 am and 1 am for the past two weeks which I guess is down to the mild weather. Last evening they changed their bedding in the top sett with a bale of straw that I left out for them a week ago. They obvioulsy waited for a dry night with little dew (very sensible). The fallen apples in our orchard have obviously reached their maximum sweetness as the badgers ate them all between the 19th and 26th December (probably 6 barrows full or approx. 300 kilos).

10th December 2006

The badger emergence has been a little more erratic during the persistent wet weather, about 10 pm most evenings. I think that even they are getting fed up with it, but quite a lot of holes have been appearing in the ‘badger lawns’ as they endeavour to find leather-jackets under the turf.

The new badger watching hide, Completed December 5th 2006

5th December 2006

A mistle thrush has been singing to me every day this week while I was completing the installation of the new hide. I was delighted also to see a greater-spotted woodpecker on our bird feeder alongside a green woodpecker who was polishing off the wood-lice that were in some redundant tree-guards.