Thursday, April 28, 2011

I checked a nest box yesterday and was a little shocked to have a blue tit hiss and lunge towards me as I opened the lid.  I don't blame her at all as a huge primate levers open her nest-space and potentially threatens her eggs.  I have never experienced such aggressive, and effective, threat displays from a blue tit though; they normally just hunker down and look vulnerable.  Good for her though.  I gently closed the lid and left her to it.
Again a fox came in to the badger sett area last night during another Sussex Wildlife Trust badger watch.  This fox, who I bumped into three times yesterday came in close and fed for 40 minutes as we all watched motionless before she was chased off by an adult badger erupting from one of the holes.  This is becoming a regular occurrence and is providing a a good warm up show before the badgers emerge.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Again it has been a busy time at Scrag as the badger 'season' gets under way.  On Sunday I guided a cameraman for Tern TV filming badgers for an ITV1 documentary airing in the summer.  Luckily the first badger emerged just after 7.30pm with plenty of ambient light for the first batch of filming.  Later, the next badger fed among the bluebells in front of us, luckily totally unconcerned by the bright LED lights we put out.  The documentary is apparently about wildlife crime, so hopefully our efforts will help raise awareness to badger baiting around the country.
Last night, I ran the 1st Sussex Wildlife Trust badger watch of the year and a journalist from Sussex Life was present, so the pressure was on.  I needn't have worried as for pre-badger entertainment, first one then a second fox came in to feed within 7m of the group.  While watching the second fox busily munching, as if entering stage left out came the first badger!  After a few minutes contented mutual feeding the badger caught a whiff of fox and charged straight at it eventually chasing it across the sett and away through the bluebells.  The fox, staying just out of the heftier mammals grasp, slinked through the shadows until the badger resumed feeding.  Reminiscent of jackals at a lion kill in Africa the fox delicately returned and managed to feed some more before again being repeatedly chased away.
After an hour of this inter-mammal species action all had dispersed and we, as the 3rd mammal present, followed suit, returning to the cars by an early 9pm.  An account of this will be appearing in the June issue of Sussex Life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This weather is exceptional!  Butterflies such as orange tips, brimstones are now patrolling the edges and rides of the woods looking for a mate and the odd speckled wood is perched in dappled sunny spots.  I have watched the nuthatches take over one of the nest boxes and plaster the large hole, enlarged actually by woodpeckers, with mud.  I heard, a few days ago, the male great spotted woodpecker excavate a nest hole; this is quite low down and, if used, will be suitable for a hide.  They do, however, excavate several potential holes before settling on the chosen one, and these are normally a bit too high to set up a hide on.
The mauve-blue mist is now forming across the whole woods as the bluebells start to emerge; Scrag is beautiful and fascinating at any time of the year, but right now and for the next month, it is at its best.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It was a good Woodland Birds' workshop day yesterday; the goldfinches were the stars.  After an on-off presence this season due to squirrels ripping apart their feeders, the adapted metal ones I installed a few weeks ago have certainly done the trick; normally I will lure them onto teasel heads, but yesterday I lured them onto sprays of blackthorn blossom to give a nice spring-like feel to the image.
Nuthatches were harder to capture yesterday; possibly the recent spring weather has distracted them onto other tasks.
I am pleased that we have had a couple of substantial downpours; this will be crucial to the badger sow that may have delivered cubs in February.  She will be lactating and needs as much food as she can get; the dry weather means worms are deep underground and this would make up 50% of her diet.  If she can't get enough food the result would be that the cubs starve.