Thursday, August 14, 2008

Probably unlike everyone else at this time of year, I see torrential rain and hope it is directly over Scrag Copse as this will hopefully fill the pond we dug a few weeks ago now. As of yesterday it was 2/3rds full and I am keen to get more water in to pull and stretch the liner fully into place so I can backfill some of the excavated soil. This will mean that the pond is ripe for colonisation by plants and insects and will give it a head start and prepare it well for next year. In September I will collect some of the ragged robin seeds from the plants I found a few weeks ago and scatter those in the wet soil areas. This pond will also provide a spectacle and point of interest from the hide during the winter.
A couple of days ago I lifted some of the corrugated iron sheets I laid in New Meadow and found at least 7 slow worms; sometimes it's difficult to accurately count as they are coiled together like spaghetti. There was also a small and very beautiful grass snake. Judging by size it could have just hatched within the past month or so which is great news.
Under one of the barn owl boxes I found several barn owl feathers, and last week I found a shed primary feather. This was obviously from barn owl by colour as well as the feather edges are all softened to allow silent flight and hunting. My hunch is, however, despite saying this before, that they did not successfully breed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Friday 8th August
The woods are very quiet at this time of the year. There is still lots going on but it is literally quiet; there is almost a total absence of bird song. Occasionally there is just a rattle from a wren or the odd contact call from long-tailed tits but overall, no song at all.
The breeding season is all but over with the 2nd robin brood becoming more independent despite still being fed by the adults. This is also signified by the occasional high-pitched call of a just-fledged sparrowhawk. This bird would have hatched just as the
young of the smaller woodland birds leave the nest. This way the adult sparrowhawks have plenty of food for their young in the form of stupid, uncoordinated just-fledged chicks. A study has been carried out that has revealed that it takes around 56 great tits to feed a sparrowhawk chick from hatching to fledging! So, the fact that the sparrowhawk young has left the nest indicates that the bountiful time is more or less over. The sparrowhawks probably had 3 young but I can only hear and occasionally see 1; the other 2 probably did not survive and may even have been eaten by their surviving sibling. As cute and colourful as our woodland birds are, it is a brutal world for them.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

They're back!

6th August 2008
Having been very, very busy working on the laptop lately cataloguing images, I have given the badgers a little rest. I was becoming more and more nocturnal and coupled with the absence of most of the badger clan, I felt it was time to take a break and allow things to unfold on their own.
Admittedly, at the start of each badger watch I have doubts as to whether the pesky mammals will show especially in light of recent events. However, with Debbie Adams and her group, we only waited 45 minutes before I spotted the familiar and very welcome striped head on the opposite side of the sett. This badger rapidly headed south before returning at a trot to the main mound. I was very pleased to identify it as one of the cubs and apparently a female by her maturing structure and bushy tail. She was joined by 2 other badgers who remained a little over to the left side just exploring the new holes in the dry stream bed. Overall, we watched the activities for 50 minutes until it became too dark and there was a lull in activities.
In short, it was great relief to see 3 out of 4 of the cubs (I hope the other one is OK) and to see that they are maturing well into competent, independent badgers.