Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Again, it was bitterly cold with a strong NE wind and a number of snow flurries today. However, the birds need feeding even more in this weather, so I dropped in for a short while.
I did manage to repair the roof on one of the bird hides; its been leaking right above the nets that hang around the viewing hatches. Its a job I've been meaning to do for a few weeks now but the weather combined with not running many workshops at Scrag over the past few weeks has meant that there is always something else to do. Anyway, its done now.
Interestingly, there's been a couple of roe deer along the stream every time I've visited over the last week and an animal that surprised me, a mink! This may cause problems at the kennels as they also have chickens; a mink will often take chickens and is even more sneaky than a fox, though the fox normally gets the blame.
I also saw my first woodcock of the winter. Last year, in the winter, I would regularly see woodcock, well, a rear-end view at least as I put them up from the leaf litter. I have only very rarely watched these birds undisturbed; the normal sighting is when they make me jump out of my skin taking off right from under my feet. I think the woodcock I see at Scrag are mainly continental birds over-wintering here. I think it would be a difficult job for a ground-nester to raise a clutch in such badger-rich woodland and I never seem to find them in the summer.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Apologies for the break in posts but I have been leading a tour in the Masai Mara, Kenya and only got back a few days ago. It was a fabulous trip with 70 lions, 9 cheetah, 2 leopard and 1 caracal! I was also fascinated by the hyenas and their similarity in social structure to badgers.
Anyway, it was lovely to get back to Scrag (yes, I do miss Scrag even when I'm working in other magnificent areas of the world!) last Friday. It was even Spring-like with primrose leaves looking new and fresh and even bluebells (leaves, not flowers) now piercing through the leaf-litter and the hazel catkins have changed their appearance and look ready for action. There was bird song all around from robins and an early song thrush as well as drumming from great spotted woodpecker; this drumming is a territorial call not the excavation of a nest hole. The sky was clear and the temperature was over 11 degrees; I even checked under the tins for an early adder as buzzards 'mewed' overhead. Yes, being six weeks after the winter solstice, it is definitely spring and the signs were all around me!
Today, however, it was bitterly cold with a driving east wind and it was...snowing!