Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Again, my apologies for the long delay; I have been working solidly for the last 3 weeks, sometimes doing 5am to midnight days.
We are in the height of the badger watching season at the moment and they are proving reliable if a little later than in previous years; last night the wind was behind the group and I did something I rarely attempt by moving the whole group mid-watch. It worked. Within 15 minutes 2 stripy-headed mammals were out foraging and scratching.
Sadly, with badgers in mind it is worth commenting that a sett close to Rusper has been persecuted with 8 snares found and one area of the sett dug out!
On a brighter note, I sat in the tawny owl hide on Saturday evening and was thrilled to witness the female owl bring food in to the now squeaking owlets. As I've already reported, I knew that a pair were nesting in one of the boxes but to see feeding behaviour, and indeed hear their contact calls, is fantastic. Owl calls at close proximity have a resonance that travels through you.
2 weeks ago I had a film crew down from Icon films to film me teaching photography among the bluebells; this is to be aired on the BBC's 'One Show' on the 26th May (I hope). It was a long day with bluebells at their peak and woodpeckers coming down on-cue for the cameras some 13 or so times in an hour. Hopefully, it will look good on prime-time television. I shall issue a blog entry with a confirmation of the date.
The Scrag Copse residential weekend was a great success despite the drizzly weather; the group were stoic to the end and thankfully managed to get some great images. The woodpeckers, I have come to realise, are a life saver when bad weather comes in to play; they are so reliable, especially at this time of year.
One female great-spotted woodpecker, however, has decided to try and tear open nest box 6! This is a large box is occupied by nuthatches who have caked up the entrance hole with mud from the stream. The poor nuthatches just look on in confusion as the woodpecker hammers away at the side of the box; against some of my principles, I have scared off the woodpecker (they are not short of food at Scrag), but she keeps on returning; I think the result is a foregone conclusion; once a woodpecker knows where a food source is, they will just keep on returning.
Apart from all that the breeding season is forging ahead with virtually every nest-box occupied. Let's just hope for nothing dramatic in the weather!