Some of my favourite photos

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Woodfest and a quiet Saturday


Woodfest is a celebration of the woodland and it's creatures in my local wood, to show members of the public what they can see when they visit.
I helped out on the Oxfordshire Mammal Group stall to promoted what the group do and encourage people to join or come to some of their talks.
(The next one is George McGavin on 12th October, which I'm really looking forward to. http://www.oxonmammals.org)
Other stalls at Woodfest included Forest School, Butterfly Conservation, Moths, Wilderness Pioneers and The Wood Conservation Group.
It was so nice to see so many people enjoying walking around the wood.


Woodfest was completely different to Saturday when I had the wood and the fields to myself.
Mum and I spent 3 hours just sitting watching the Hares and wandering around the fields.

There are so many Jays around in the trees at the moment after the acorns.

Jay


The Jays have competition for the acorns from the squirrels, this one sat in the tree above our heads and was chattering while flicking its tail, which is an alarm call, although it sounded more like it was telling us off.



If you stand still for a few minutes in the woods all the birds reappear.
Green Woodpecker

Coal Tit

Long tailed tit

 This female Kestrel hunts near to the Hare field every day. On Saturday it was chasing the Yellow hammers and other small birds up and down the hedgerow.
Sometimes the small birds gang up on her and chase her away.



 There were 4 Hares out on Saturday afternoon, it was a bit earlier than we normally go to see them.
I found was interesting to see how when the sun came out the hares were more active and hopped about eating, but when the sun went behind a cloud, the Hares laid down so I couldn't see them.

H3 and her mate came over a few times and the Hares hid in the grass. When two male Pheasants starting fighting and making a lot of noise all the Hares ran into the maize.








Sunday, 20 September 2015

Autumn dew

 It is a sure sign that Autumn is on its way when the whole garden is layered with dew covered Spiders webs. Every fence, every tree, every flower and gate.
Dew is water that forms into droplets due to condensation, which appear on small thin objects like Spiders webs.
On one of the fence posts, a Female Cranefly or Daddy long legs Tipula paludosa sat, her wings glittered with tiny balls of water. The female has the abdomen end that looks like a stinger. September is the month where the number of Craneflies peak. The adults eat nectar, whereas the larvae, Leatherjackets eat the roots of grasses.














Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Trail cam badgers and a fox

Since the weekend we have been putting the trail camera out in different places to try and get an idea where the badgers go at what time.
I was lucky enough to get a quick view of a fox on one of the cameras.
I am also trying to build up a log of the different badgers on my local patch to see if I can start recognising some.



I am really pleased to see that this years cub is growing strong. It is still pottering about with its mum. Back in the spring there were two cubs but I haven't seen the other one since May. I only saw it once.

video

A badger has been coming up to just behind our garden and snuffling around in the grass. It completely ignores the fallen apples.

video

I have also been looking into what badgers eat. Out in the field they are eating a lot of the maize and other crops as well as blackberries. I can tell this by what they leave in their latrines.
Out in the field I put down a small handful of peanuts, a pile of windfall apples and a pile of windfall plums. The badger really seems to enjoy the plums. I can't work out whether they eat the stone or not. They don't touch apples.


video

In all three places I have been noting the times the badgers appear. It seems like they come to a patch, go away, and then visit the same patch a couple of times during the night and in to the early morning.

One thing I noticed on one of the clips was a badger lifting up its leg, holding it for a moment then walking off. I have seen badgers squat to go to the toilet, but do male badgers cock their leg like dogs or do both sexes squat?

video

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Down stream on the River Thames

 Instead of taking the boat upstream as we normally do, this weekend we went downstream.
The River Thames becomes a lot wider and has less plants on the river bank after Eynsham lock. On the way there are lots of Narrow boats and a caravan park.
The river bends as it goes passed Farmoor Reservoir which is where we saw the Cormorant.
We only saw two Kingfishers, but there were about five Herons.
Heron

Cormorant
Thank you to Wildlife Kate's website for the information on the difference between a male and female Kestrel.
www.wildlifekate.wordpress.com
This is a male because he has a grey head and spots on his back.
We watched this Kestrel as we were waiting for our turn in Pinkhill Lock
The Kestrel in my slideshow is a female.
Male Kestrel






I thought this was a juvenile Kingfisher at first because it was so fluffy but it is an adult because its legs are orange where as a young Kingfisher has browner feet. 
Male Kingfisher



Saturday, 12 September 2015

Buzzard behaviour

Since the fields around my local patch have been harvested lots of Buzzards have appeared from nowhere all rising on the heat thermals on a sunny day.
These Buzzards are not my local ones but they may have come from a different area.
I could see between six to ten Buzzards flying higher and higher, smaller and and smaller in circles above the fields starting in the West and heading South Eastwards.
They could be a group of juveniles who do sometimes gather together in groups, chasing, diving and playing. This behaviour will continue until the group strays into a territory that is already taken, where the male from the territory will scare them off, or after 30 minutes the group will break up anyway, which seems to happen over my house because our local Buzzards seem completely unaffected by the Buzzards passing over as H3 and her mate stay low over the woods and don't bother to chasing the passing ones away.
On this occassion two of the Buzzards, one male and one female (the females are bigger than the males) were doing acrobatices, twisting and turning, sometimes flying upside down with their talons out stretched, this is called dive on- turn over.








In this photo both buzzards are flying upside down with talons out stretched



Information taken from a really good article called
The Social behaviour of the Common Buzzard by Robin J. Prytherch which I need to spend a lot more time reading!

Friday, 11 September 2015

The best camera is the one you have with you

'The best camera is the one you have with you' 
I don't know who said that or where I read it but it has been true this week.
So far this week I have missed getting a photo of a young hare which was happy to hop around the allotment while my mum was weeding.
I missed a Sparrowhawk chasing a bird - twice.
I also missed getting photos of a Kestrel being mobbed by around 10 small finches.
These are some of the photos I have managed to get.





H3, one of my local Buzzards has been around a lot this week, with her mate and another Buzzard. I can hear them calling to each other in the evenings.






I have been putting my trail camera further and further away from the badger sett.
I want to see how far the badgers go at night and to see if I recognise any of them so I can see which sett they come from.
(The date stamp isn't correct)
I don't recognise the first badger but the second one, a female, comes from one of the setts I watch that is about 800m away. I know they come this way because you can follow the tracks through the grass. They also used the ditches to get places.

video


video

Monday, 7 September 2015

Kingfisher

Yesterday our boat was on the River Thames in the morning being used as safety cover for a charity lock to lock swim.
When the race had finished we decided to make the most of the sunny day and go looking for Kingfishers.
My sister was in charge of the boat as she has passed her RYA power boat handling course.

We headed in the direction where we know a Kingfisher has a territory.

 On spotting the first Kingfisher my sister turned the boat around, switched the engine off which enabled us to drifted with the current.
The river took us gradually to the edge where the Kingfisher was perched. The boat moved so slowly that the Kingfisher didn't take any notice of us.
 I carefully walked to the front of the boat and started to take some shots.
I got so close that I had to lean backwards as we floated underneath where he was sat. 
When I looked back at my photos I could tell that it was a male Kingfisher, you can tell it is a male because females have a red underbeak.
Male Kingfisher




After about an hour of enjoying the quietness of the river, the gentle breeze and the sun, we reached the next territory where I occassionally see one or two Kingfishers but this time we were very lucky to see four Kingfishers flying together.
One particular Kingfisher sat pearched on the side of a gate, fishing.
I took plenty of photos of it as he dived down in to the water after fish.
On one ocassion the Kingfisher rose out of the water with a fish in its beak but as he went to land back on the gate he dropped the fish.
He immediately turned and tried to catch the fish as it fell through the air, The Kingfisher hovered over where the fish had fallen for a moment before giving up.

 In total we spotted 6 different Kingfishers over a 3 hour trip. We also looked along the waters edge for water voles and although a couple were spotted in the morning during the charity swim, I didn't see any in the afternoon.