Whilst my ongoing health issues limit my outings at present - and the weather remains changeable at best (apart from a cracking weekend, which I’ll come to in a minute), I’ve not had as much inclination or time to get out and about and see wat gwan around me in the local countryside as I’d have ideally liked.
I had reports that our local badger sett has produced three cubs this year and the foxes that are based in an earth very close to the badgers have also produced (at least) three boisterous young also.
I’ve left the trail camera sett-side for most of last week and managed to film three adult badgers, two adult foxes, three fox cubs, one badger cub (I think) getting chased by a fox and a muntjac doe (plus the obligatory rats and woodpigeons!)
You can watch the spliced video clips by clicking on the embedded player below, but as usual with my embedded clips, once you’ve pressed play, do enlarge the player for a jerk-free playback.
I will endeavour to put the trail camera back in place some time this week, with a view to getting some footage of the very adorable badger cubs which I know are above ground now and quite large really.
The foxes do tend to boss the area though and the badger cubs seem content (at present) to play in the scrubby background (out of shot) or feed elsewhere. The sound from the clips I’ve recorded also suggests that the badger cubs are mainly foraging out of shot of the trail cam – if anyone is reading this that has experience (like lucky old me) of watching newly-emerged badger cubs at play – they’ll know as well as me that they are quite noisy wee critters – always chattering to each other and there is none of this recorded on the trail cam.
What else other than badgers, foxes and muntjac then?
Well… I keep bumping into the local pair of red-legged partridge whilst out and about. Red-legs and our native partridge (the greys) are quite predictable during the breeding season – when they’ve paired off for the year and found a suitable field in which to breed, they pretty-well stay put in that same field for the season. I’ve seen the pair but no (nidifugous) young as yet, so I assume the hen has probably not laid eggs just yet.
The swifts are pretty-well all here now (although saying that, our original female only returned to her nest in our house on 18th May last year), so I’m still playing my swift attracting CD at top volume when I can – though no joy yet and no swifts have found my swift palace in the attic.
I have seen and heard parties of calling swifts over this part of Berkshire and whilst none are nesting in our new house this year, I did predict that it might take a number of years before they did so.
We have just had a glorious weekend (weatherwise) after what feels (and indeed IS!) weeks and weeks of rain.
I took a lovely drive through the countryside on Saturday and Sunday morning and it was an utter joy to see swallows flying around barns and telegraph wires in rural Berkshire, rabbit kits scattering into hedges from single track country lanes and buzzards mewing in blue sky thermals above me.
I took a walk down my favourite country lane and it was clear from the indignant tutting from the bramble hedges either side of the lane, that blackcaps and whitethroats were both nesting nearby – fresh over from their winter in Africa no doubt.
Our garden starling population fledged over the weekend. It always tends to be this way with starlings – one day there are NO young – the next and ALL the local nests spew out their dusty-grey young at once.
Unfortunately the young fledglings are not the best at flying – and whilst one of our kittens took down one unfortunate individual (whilst its parents screamed their distress in a tree above the carnage), the local magpies have been picking off many of the others.
My solution would be (of course!) to kill the magpies (they are game birds after all and are not in any way shape or form declining like I’m reliably told starlings are), but as soon as anyone suggests killing any birds (corvid or not) the Disney wildlife crew in the UK collectively throw their hands in the air and howl their hysterical, uninformed derision.
It was also very nice to watch a hobby fly pretty low over the garden at the weekend. Stunning wee falcons these - probably the most aerially adept of all birds of prey (and the only bird of prey that is agile enough to catch hirundines and dragonflies in flight – no mean feat!)
Finally I have managed to mow our lawns and uncovered plenty of red ant nests in the process – might explain why green woodpeckers do seem quite fond of our garden! The mining bees made the most of the sunshine (which as I type has disappeared in a day of drizzle today) and spent the weekend investigating potential nest sites in the newly hardened and shortened lawn and I’ve noticed red mason bees start to nest also.
Finally (well…. at least over the weekend) it felt like we really were in May (proper) with that fresh green bushy foliage look that only May brings – and I do hope that the end of the month brings warmer temperatures – I’d love to go to our local heath to go nightjar-hunting and then we have the dragonflies to look forward to…!
Bring on summer…..