“There’s one antidote to gloom and despair that never fails: the wildlife that got us all going in the first place. It’s brilliant, beautiful, bewildering, intriguing and inspiring. We’ll probably do a lot more good if we spend more time outside engaging with it, rather than inside reading about or watching things (on TV) that make us angry (like Brexit, for example)….”
Just a quick garden "SITREP" if you like, this morning - as there's quite a bit going on at Black Rabbit Towers at present.
Our male (I think) great tit, which roosts in our tit camera box each winter has been ousted by an insistent blue tit, which has cleared out the hundreds of great tit droppings from the bottom of the box and now has spent a week or so filling up the box with moss. We've been here before with this box. When I fixed it to the back wall of the garden, at the end of the 45 yard garden, it was nested in - and most of the fledgling blue tits survived into adulthood I think. (I know that one didn't make it past day two though). But... ever since I fixed it (the camera box) to the north-facing wall of the hyse, under the eaves, even though blue tits have shown an interest, they've never actually nested in it. Anyway - at present these blue tits DO seem intent, this year, on nesting in this box - which as it has a camera in it, might be fun to watch for us all here.
Talking of nesting birds, we've got a large dead damson tree in our back garden, all covered in cheese, ivy, in which a pair of magpies have been building a nest now for over a month. I know, I know, magpies are like the local bird mafia - but they are stunning to look at, aren't they?
Talking of the magpies... as I was tepeing between my teeth last night, I heard the pair of magpies shouting at something from their ivy/damson nesting tree. I assumed a cat was making a nuisance of it itself up the tree - but I assumed incorrectly - as I then heard a very distinctive male tawny owl call from the same tree. Now I can't be 100% sure that that's the first time a tawny owl has been in our garden... but it's almost certainly the first time I've heard one in our garden. Oh I regularly hear them around our garden, but I'm pretty sure I've never heard one IN our garden - so that was a little bit of excitement last night, before bed! (But no... I don't expect it to stick around by the way).
Taking of predatory birds - I noticed a dead dove by the pond, from the kitchen window t'other day. On closer inspection (see photo below) I deduced pretty quickly that it has been hit by a female sparrowhawk (a dove would be too big for a male hawk to take on) and the hawk had killed it and immediately started plucking its chest, as they do, to get to those two juicy bits of breast muscle. There were a few feathers lying around in the long grass surrounding the pond and some pluck marks in the dove's chest. But.... the hawk had gone. Well before it had had a meal. So again, I deduced that it had been spooked by something. Perhaps a magpie (which are nesting next to the pond in that dead damson tree - see above), but much more likely by a cat. The hawk didn't come back for its meal (it must have been well spooked!) but something polished off the dead dove a night later (see below).
I left the dove in the garden, expecting a red kite to swoop down for it (as they've done with dead birds in our garden in the past). No kite did come down - but a fox clearly found it during the night (or more likely next morning before we got up), took it to the secret den part of the garden and ate it ALL. See photo below.
Taking of creatures of the night - it is an absolute JOY to report that despite the best (worst) efforts of our arsehole neighbours, a hedgehog has appeared again in our garden. (See videos below). Christ knows how, to be honest, with neighbours both to our east and to a lesser extent the west, displaying the worst type of environmental ignorance (not to mention intellectual barrenness). But it IS back and I hope, boy do I hope that it finds a mate somehow, perhaps using one of the tunnels that I have (obviously!) dug under our borders.
Finally, we of course, again have a pond full of rampant ranids at present and quite a lot of spawn (see very poor photos below taken in a huge hurry from distance this morning). I hear it may get cold on Sunday (coming) night - but I hope there's enough frogs movements (writhing in their orgy ball) in the pond to avoid the pond freezing over and killing some of that spawn.