30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 21

I sometimes have to work away from home; tonight this had its advantages, a beautiful roe deer.  I was still working at the time, moving locations. Turning the corner into another field, I came face to face with this doe.  She stood and looked at me briefly before turning and trotting away.  I love having chance encounters with mammals when out and about.  It does worry me that she didn’t run as soon as she saw me, I was only ever going to take her photograph, but who knows who else she could run into! 

My Patch – April 2018

A year ago this April was my first visit to my patch and my first blog about it.  The year seems to have flown by far to fast! 

Now daylight saving has occurred and Spring has finally arrived, my evenings are filled with visiting the patch or garden after work when time allows – the garden has been top of the list because I want to get the wildflower seeds in!   

April 5th – The starlings and jackdaws were all collecting nesting material and flying up to the roof. I need to try and locate where they are all nesting in the roof. I’m sure the jackdaws are using the chimney and facia boards as they did last year but need to do more research on the exact location of the starlings. 

April 9th – Two mute swans flew in to graze and a rook landed on the bird feeder. It’s the first rook I have seen land in the garden area. I am surprised that the mute swans are still about, although low in numbers now.  Last year they didn’t stay as long, though it was a different crop in the field.  I can only assume they will visit as long as there are shoots to graze on. 

April 10th – I put the trailcam out last night after thinking I had identified hedgehog feceas in the garden, I was correct πŸ™‚ There are also loads of baby snails in the garden; feasting on the cyclamen leaves.

April 12th – I went to put some food out for the hedgehog and discovered that he had already found some! 

There are definitely jackdaws in the roof, you can clearly hear them chattering through the ceiling of one of the bedrooms πŸ™‚ the occupant of the room isn’t so pleased about it!  I wish I lived there, it would be lovely to wake up to them chattering every morning. 

The trailcam footage from the garden showed that the hedgehog feeding station isn’t really working…

At least we now know that a fox is visiting the garden! It explains where the cat food dishes have been disappearing too!  

April 19th – The deer were in the field first thing, barely noticeable in the rape. 

April 20th – I took a short walk in the field this afternoon, to be honest it was a bit too warm to be doing so.  The oil-seed rape has sprung up since the weather has improved which does mean it looks very pretty now.  Along the field margins are many wildflowers; dead red-nettle, etc The stinging nettles which are now great in number are camouflaging the rabbit holes rather well! I know this as I managed to put my foot down one, thankfully it had been dug out at an angle and not a direct drop! I may have to tie ribbon to the hedgerow to mark out where they are! There were bee-flies, and numerous butterflies; brimstone, small tortoiseshell and peacock all of whom didn’t want to sit still for long enough for a photograph, when they did they kept their wings firmly shut! There were also some white butterflies in the distance but I couldn’t clearly identify them. I could hear the pheasant calling down the bottom of the field, he is quite vocal these days. In the hedgerow I could see house sparrows and blue tits, while woodpigeon’s and crow’s were flying over overhead.  On my walk back I didn’t fancy my chances with the rabbit holes so walked along the track just the other side of the hedgerow, the deer were grazing in the next field over πŸ™‚  

April 24th – there was a toad in the garden. 

April 25th – a starling took a leaf under the roof tiles, a different location to where I noticed them the other day. 

April 30th – a jackdaw was sat in the tree with a beak full of fur! I heard my first cuckoo of the year πŸ™‚

My Patch – February 2018

February has been a much more successful month in the field, with Spring finally on its way I have seen many more goings on…  

February 12th – I noticed this morning a Jackdaw looking in the chimney. They nested in it last year so hopefully it is a good sign that they will nest there again. 

February 13th – there were 32 mute swans in the field this morning. It’s nice to see they are still visiting in good numbers. 

February 15th – 10 starlings were sat on the roof chattering.  I noticed one sitting on the guttering near one of last years nest sites, it then popped in under the roof tile – looks like they are revisiting last years nests πŸ™‚ The crows were also up on the chimney again.

February 20th – this morning there were 30 mute swans and a pheasant in the field. I know pheasants are around the field but this was the first time I had seen one at the top end of it. I had a quick visit to the garden tonight, I discovered fox scat in the flowerbed!

February 22nd – this morning there were two male pheasants in the field. They were closer to the garden and I am starting to wonder if they are picking up bird food that might have been dropped over the fence. Also 21 mute swans πŸ™‚ 

February 23rd – I put the trailcam out in the garden over night to see if the foxy visitor returned. Unfortunately nothing but plants swaying in the wind.

February 24th – the trailcam was put out over night in the field, the plan was to try and find out what was using the holes in the field as home (I assume rabbits).  Nothing came out of them, there were however a few visitors that passed by – fox, roe deer and possibly 2 badgers… or one that walked the same route a couple of times!  

February 25th – I decided seeing it was a sunny afternoon to head out in the field to look around.  Now I don’t normally see any other humans at all, however it being a Sunday afternoon I saw three!! Which might explain why I saw less than the normal amount of wildlife! Note to self – only go on the weekend if its really early! Along the north hedge I saw more than normal (no other humans there!) 5 starlings, 2 house sparrow and a blue tit, there were other small birds flitting around but they were hard to see darting into the hedge so I can only assume they are more of the same.  I know that there are tree sparrows in the area but I am yet to see any here.  

Walking passed the copse I again spooked the roe deer, 6 of them ran out the other side and settled in the next field over, through the trees I could also see where all of the mute swans have slowly disappeared to πŸ™‚  Along the edge of the trees as I was walking down to the river I saw a bird running along the hedgerow, 99% sure it was a red-legged partridge.  I’ve not seen one in the field before.

Walking along the river I saw 2 of the humans, 2 mute swans and I heard both a moorhen and robin.  I still haven’t been able to have help to go and collect the litter, good news is its still there and hasn’t washed away! I’m still unsure if the ‘land’ its on is actually stable to stand on! 

On my walk back up I’m sure I saw a tawny owl sat on a tree branch on the edge of the copse, it flew off as soon as I saw it so I didn’t have a good view, but it looked owl like in flight, it flew back into the copse.  

February 26th – 5 mute swans and 11 roe deer near the copse this morning πŸ™‚

February 27th – 1 pheasant and 2 mute swans in the field with 5 long-tailed tits on the feeder and a robin pottering around in the flowerbed. The mute swans have reduced in number over the month, but at least I know they are just in the next field over πŸ™‚

Snow Tracks

Although the recent snowfall was only a couple of weeks ago, to be honest it feels like a lifetime ago! I headed out on the Saturday morning to look for snow tracks.  I have a good idea what visits the field in the day and a fair idea of what wanders around after dark, but normally finding tracks other than roe deer is not easy.  The snow however made it much easier πŸ™‚ 

I had been told that the house next to the owner had been walking their dog through the field, so I needed to get there early so I didn’t have dog prints in the mix.  Luckily they hadn’t been out by the time I got there.  I did however have cat prints everywhere! They were quite easy to spot as the cat wandered out into the field so I could have a good look at his print!

Along the top edge of the field along with the cat! I found fox prints, it had been quite active during the night by the looks of it but I guess seeing I now know there are rabbits living along the hedgerow I can see why.  It had been looking into the rabbit hole and it did look as though there had been a chase or at least a rabbit running in an arch.  The rabbits had clearly marked their burrow entrances with urine! At least I now know for sure who the holes belong to!  The only other tracks I found were pheasant, which seem to be spending time in this part of the field.

Instead of heading around the field I headed out into the next field along, I knew the mute swans were there and wanted to check on them.  I also found roe deer, rabbit, brown hare, fox and badger prints πŸ™‚ All the four legged mammals that I have seen in my patch. Its good to know that they were all okay out in the snowy conditions; well at least they were on the move πŸ™‚ The snow began to thaw in the afternoon and I am sure they were all as glad about that as the rest of us! 

My Patch – December 2017

So December was a more successful month for me out in the field, primarily this was down to having days off work (I had to use up my remaining annual leave) and what better way of doing it than out on the patch πŸ™‚

December 2nd – So I had planned to go walking around the field, but, there was the sound of shotguns.  I wasn’t sure how close they were. I assume they were shooting pheasant or maybe the roe deer.  As I have stated before they aren’t allowed to kill anything in the field, nor should they shoot in the direction of the field but to be on the safe side I thought it was best to monitor the garden birds instead! 1 great spotted woodpecker, 4 robin, 2 dunnock, 5 goldfinch, 5 blue tit, 3 great tit, 7 house sparrow, 5 starling, a coal tit, 2 chaffinch and a blackbird 

December 13th – It snowed quite heavily in the region, unfortunately it had started to melt when I was back in work so only got to see a partially covered field.

December 14th – Today was a horrible day for travel, the road next to the patch was covered in black ice.  There was already one car in the ditch and as I watched another car snaked all over the road and ended up in the entrance way to the barn.  The lady was okay and got out of her car, though I later discovered she fractured her wrist.  I was stood with her in the barn area and there was a heard of roe deer in the distance.  

December 18th – Was another horrible day for travel.  I hadn’t long parked up and was getting ready to go round the field when another car ended up in the ditch, this time at the field’s entrance.  The road is horrendous for black ice.  The awful part is you just watch people driving like its a summer day and wonder why they can’t stop when they brake!  

I made my way out into the field through the owners back garden as the road wasn’t a safe place to be! The mute swans are back πŸ™‚ there were six feeding on the crop! I’m sure the farmer isn’t too pleased to see them but I was πŸ™‚  Last April there were approximately 40 grazing so I am expecting the numbers to increase.  I walked a different route to normal as I was trying to avoid the accident.  I didn’t see a lot, a pheasant that ran away very quickly and a great tit in the trees.  There were other small birds about but they were difficult to see as the sun was in my eyes and they were just shadows.  As I got closer to the river I noticed a huge number of woodpigeon; I counted approximately 96, they were all feeding on the crop too! The river is so much easier to see into now its Winter.  I can even sort of tell where the edge of the bank is! Today I only spotted a wren, grey heron and a moorhen.

On the walk back up I stuck to my normal route, I did however quickly realise it was the much muddier choice! There were three advantages though; I briefly glimpsed two roe deer in the copse, a brown hare ran out from the hedgerow in front of me and a buzzard flew over.  I know there are brown hare in the copse and I have seen them in the next field along but but this is the first time on my patch πŸ™‚

December 22nd – I made a brief stop at the field, today there were 8 mute swans and the roe deer were grazing.  I finally got to see the pale/white deer.  Looking at the herd there are a wide variety of shades but the two pale ones really do stand out.  

The garden bird count today showed: 2 great spotted woodpecker (a pair), 2 chaffinch, a robin, 2 great tit, 5 blue tit, 9 house sparrow, 6 goldfinch, 1 coal tit and 8 starlings.

I put the TrailCam out overnight on the 22nd, the fox was back.  I think its the same one and I’m fairly sure now that shes a female πŸ™‚

My Patch – September 2017

September is definitely showing signs of Autumn. There are more blackberries, the ivy is starting to bud and early mornings are seeing an increasing amount of mist and glistening spiders webs. 

Morning of September 7th before heading to work I heard a call I recognised but not heard on my patch before. A green woodpecker hopped along the fence of one of the gardens and up into the tree. I regularly see spotted woodpeckers but this was a first for here. There were lots of garden birds about this morning; great tit, coal tit, goldfinches and starlings. 

September 18th – I never like seeing shapes of animals on the road but when its next to my patch I dislike it even more.  It was a badger. This isn’t the first badger I have found in this spot, there was another in February.  I called the field owner to help me move her, we moved her from the road into the field to allow nature to take its course rather than her getting smashed to pieces by more cars.  Next year I want to try and get to know the badgers that roam around the area.  Thankfully there hasn’t been a cull here so they have been safe this year.  I do worry that if I get to know them and a cull happens next year I would loose new friends.  Of course I would try to protect them but unfortunately the land around the field has a different owner so there is little control.  

September 21st – Autumn colours are starting to show in the trees, the copse and the brambles and hawthorn berries seem to be plentiful in the hedgerows. I heard a buzzard calling in the distance that drew my attention behind me, 10 roe deer were walking down the edge of the copse. 

I had a companion again who came for another walk, he was helping with finding holes! I think it’s a new hole and belongs to rabbits which is slightly concerning though! Billy doesn’t go hunting, there is another cat however who does, he catches field voles! 

My Patch – August 2017

August 4th – The starlings are growing, and becoming noisier by the day. They are becoming rather bossy!

There have been bananas put in the garden area and today there was a speckled wood feeding on them and 6 red admirals on the buddleia. 

August 7th – Tonight I saw ‘Strike’. A starling that was born last year, it has two white tail feathers so is fairly identifiable. Its good to know that he/she is still around. 50 swallows feeding over the field was a great sight. They have suddenly appeared but I think that is due to the rapeseed crops being harvested so they are now feeding over the remaining crop fields. 

August 13th – this afternoon / evening the farmer began to harvest the Wheat crop. 

August 15th – they have finished harvesting the 126 acres and are now bailing. Tomorrow I will be able to walk freely across the field. A buzzard flew up from a pile of straw into the copse; the first one I have seen since April. 

August 31st – Tonight I took my first walk to the river at bottom of field. Some of the path is a little over grown so I had to walk part of the way in the next field. I’m glad I did; as I came out from the trees a brown hare ran from the field back into the trees, it took me by surprise. The river is looking quite over grown and it is difficult to see into it. I might need to do a little tidying of the banks over winter just so there are some small paths to the river so it’s easier to see. At the moment it’s actually difficult to tell where the edge of the bank was so I had to be a little cautious. I did however see 2 mute swan, a moorhen and most surprising of all a kingfisher flew by πŸ™‚ I accidentally discovered a rabbit hole when I nearly lost my foot down it! There are lots of tunnels through the vegetation that surround the field, I would guess most are rabbit, mice / rats. There are also some tyres and rubbish that needs collecting!

On my walk back 42 canada geese flew over πŸ™‚


30 Days Wild 2017 – Days 26 – 30

Day 26 – As it was National Badger Week I decided to go out to look for the Badger again. I only found tracks this time, but in a slightly different location to where I saw it the first time. I’m slowly building up a picture of where it travels, hopefully as we head into the winter months and the tall vegetation dies back it will be easier to see where their sett is and hopefully observe them even more. 

Day 27 – After getting home late I was wondering what I was going to do today. Something flying caught my eye as I walked along the drive.  A White Plume Moth – it was overly obliging staying still to have its photo taken and I soon realised it was actually stuck on a thread from a spiders web. I soon freed it and it was on its way πŸ™‚

28 – I was a little stuck on what to do tonight, all week I have been dog sitting for a friend for an hour or so and its knocked me off my path a little for what I had planned.  While looking for Ladybirds the other day I had taken notice of the leaves I was looking for them on.  Tonight I grabbed a torch and a macro lens on my phone and headed out into their garden, dog in tow to look at the leaves.  They look like micro worlds with field boundaries πŸ™‚  

Day 29 – I finally managed to photograph one of the Swifts flying over home tonight πŸ™‚

Day 30 – On my way home from work tonight I stopped at my patch to have a quick look to see what birds were about.  I sometimes use apps to help identify their calls when I hear something new or I’m not 100% sure I’m identifying them correctly.  I have a basic knowledge of some calls but I am definitely still learning.  When the season changes again and some of our current visitors leave for the Winter I’ll be learning all over again.

In my initial 30 Days Wild post I said I had a few days planed out, not all of those have happened in June but I will do them in the coming month or two. I managed to visit 2 Nature Reserves (rather than 3), I completed a litter pick up on June 11th, I didn’t visit a new birding site but I did visit Stanton Park which was new to me. 

I always enjoy 30 Days Wild though some days I find more difficult than others. Having a full time job and a commute does make it difficult on occasion to complete a random act of wildness. I often see wildlife on my commute which could easily work as an act of wildness for the day, though it would get a little boring for you after a few days of hearing the same thing from me!

Some of my favourite parts of the month have been the unexpected sightings of Brown Hare, Barn Owl and of course the Badger πŸ™‚ It really is a case of going out and exploring areas near you, you never know what you will find… 

My Patch – April 2017

At the beginning of April there was still Swan activity in the field, approximately 40 Mute Swans were feeding on the shoots but by mid April had moved on.  While they were still there they were joined one evening by a heard of 22 Roe Deer. It was a fairly warm evening and they were primarily led down in the middle of the field.  They stayed until dusk, when they got up and started to graze. I believe they moved on when it got dark, but it was too dark for me to see where they had moved to!  I like it when the Deer are in the field, I know it means that they are safe. The land owner has an agreement with the farmer that no wildlife is to be harmed on the land.  This means when the culling season is upon us they can’t be shot in this field.

The middle of April I decided to take a closer look in one of the hedgerows, it didn’t go to plan.  I had company on my walk that isn’t the type of company that goes with looking for birds – a cat! My friend lives in one of the houses adjacent to my patch and has a cat that lives outdoors.  She’s very friendly and decided that coming for a walk with me was the way she would spend her evening.  I didn’t expect her to walk all the way down the track and into a copse with me, then walk all the way back! If I stopped to look at something she stopped and waited for me! All I saw was a Robin at the top of a tree and a Rabbit who was quite a distance away thankfully! 

My attention has been drawn to the birds in the garden, who are nesting in my friends house. As far as we know there are 2 Jackdaw nests and 3 Starling nests all located in the roof, be it the chimneys where the Jackdaws have made home or underneath the roof tiles where the Starlings are. I’m looking forward to seeing their fledglings in the garden πŸ™‚

Boxing Day 2016 – Visit to WWT Slimbridge

For a change of scenery on Boxing Day I headed to WWT Slimbridge with my parents. We have visited Slimbridge a number of times before, although not in the colder months and my Mum wanted to see the Bewick’s Swans in particular. So taking the back roads to avoid the Boxing day sales traffic we headed towards Gloucester. 

Even as an adult I buy grain to feed the birds. The Nene Geese came to greet us asking nicely for food; I lost my packet of food to my Dad who took to feeding them and every Moorhen he saw! We took a slow walk towards the Zeiss hide stopping for lunch at the picnic benches on route.  My parents aren’t birders so don’t like sitting in hides for long but during the periods of time they managed to sit still, I saw Roe Deer, a Curlew, Bewick’s Swans in the distance, a couple of Mute Swan and hundreds of Lapwing and Wigeon.  

Warm drinks were needed after a walk around the site, the restaurant was packed but I managed to get us a table near the window which was very fortuitous as I saw my first Grey Wagtail, so of course I grabbed my camera and headed outside for a record shot! 

Towards the end of our visit we headed to the Peng observatory, knowing we wanted to be there for the 4pm feeding to have a closer look at the Bewick’s Swans.  It is a nice place to sit and watch the bird’s slowly growing in number as they head in for feeding time.  It was lovely to see the birds following the wheelbarrow of food, there were about 30 Bewick’s, a real treat to witness and something I highly recommend seeing if you have time to stay till closing.

My full list of sightings:
Birds: Curlew, Bewick’s Swan, Mute, Swan, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Wigeon, Black-headed Gull, Shelduck, Coot, Moorhen, Reshank, Jackdaw, Rook, Teal, Pintail, Grey Wagtail, Long-tailed Tit, Woodpigeon, Song Thrush
Mammals: Roe Deer