Lots to catch up on…

The vixen visited one of the hedgehog feeding stations again the other night and as you can see, she is still nursing. It is still only male hedgehogs that come to the feeding stations now and they won’t tolerate any other male to eat at the same time as them.  In case you are wondering how I know for sure they are male: I have the camera positioned so low that it really is very obvious when they walk into shot. Usually, one of the males is more alpha that the other and bullies the other one away from the food but on this occasion, both males were determined to own the feeding station…

Well, it looks like Delilah’s drey is not here after all, as we have watched her last thing in the evening leaving our little woodland and seen her first thing after dawn coming into our woodland, from another small wooded area. None of our Trail Cams have caught sight of her kittens yet, although I reckon they should be leaving the drey and coming out with their Mum for the first time in the next week to ten days, if my dates are correct. Nibbles is still around but not as much and usually not at the same time as Delilah. She caught him in one of the oak trees the other day and was like a squirrel possessed, chasing him from it: he was running for his life to get away from her. It had me thinking that maybe her drey was somewhere high up in the oak, as it is thickly covered in ivy and very hard to see if there is a drey or even a den in it but I have spent ages with the binoculars and can’t see anything and Delilah doesn’t go there last thing at night or come from there first thing in the morning. The shot below is of Nibbles leaving one of the feeders with a hazelnut in his mouth. He is moulting his winter coat and is looking a little tatty.

(By the way, in case you didn’t know, if you click on most of the photos in my blog they should open up separately and enlarged for better viewing)

For blog Nibbles on feeder 7.5.2017


Sad to write that Phoghorn Leghorn is no longer with us. I found him a couple of days ago when I was gardening in the woods. He had made a hollow for himself under a thick mound of Lamium and I found him snuggled down inside,  At first I thought he was just hunkered down, feeling poorly.  It was very sad to find that he had died: he had been my gardening companion for quite a long time.  He hadn’t been well for a while and had something wrong with his beak, which was making it almost impossible to eat, so it was only a matter of time I suppose.

Good photo of Phoghorn Leghorn

But we do have a new kid on the block here at Ye Olde Rectory.  Meet Sid…

SID Carion 1.5.2017

The cameras first caught sight of Sid with two other carrion crows in our little woodland a couple of weeks ago. The other two hung around for a few days, then left this one behind, so I am assuming that Mom and Pop brought Sid here and when the coast was clear, they flew off.  He was very lost for a day or two, just walking around the grassy glade, following any other black bird that came near, whether they were Black Birds or Jackdaws but he has slowly got used to being on his own and tucking into the hedgehog food that is left over in the morning!! I saw him trying to have a bath in a small water bowl left for the hedgehogs, which was very funny, as he could only fit one leg into it, so he now has a shallow tray as a bathing pool, which he is very possessive and won’t allow any other bird to come near. We lose one character and gain another 😀


We’ve all been super busy in the garden the past few weeks but especially the woodland garden.  We couldn’t have done it without Scott’s help, so a big THANK YOU! to Scott. 😀 At last, we have soil in the River Kwai and a bridge over it.  Two actually! They need securing and covering with chicken wire, so they aren’t lethally slippy in wet weather but at least the end is in sight!  We have started planting up the River Kwai with blue plants that will self-seed and spread and the aim is to be able to stand on the bridges and look up (or down) and hopefully, at most times of the year, there should be a ribbon of blue that looks almost like a river running down through the woods.  Well, that’s the hopeful idea anyway 😀 Here are a couple of photos of how it looks so far…

The Sounds of Nature

This is Olly. He was found on the roadside a few years ago now when I was driving the girls to the bus stop and Ross to catch his train to college.  On my way back, I saw a tawny owl had been hit by traffic and was dead at the side of the road.  It had only just died, so I picked up the sad but fabulous creature and brought him home. Straight away I phoned an acquaintance of ours who is a taxidermist and following his instructions, Olly was promptly wrapped in bin bags and put in the freezer on Fast Freeze, then a couple of days later he was sent via Royal Next Day Delivery (well insulated!) up to Yorkshire: that made for an interesting conversation with the Post Office clerk I can tell you!  Several weeks later Olly came back to us.


As we have all realised, winter has waned and we are riding full pelt toward summer. If we should need a little convincing of this, then get up really early, go someplace that nature takes up more space than humankind, stand very still and just listen.  Our Trail Cams often catch the dawn chorus and even though they are all really lovely to listen to, every now and then one stands out of the crowd.  This following clip is one of those.  To me it is the most beautiful sound in the world. This clip even has the owl calls at dawn! And there are so many birds singing at the same time, too.

But the day time doesn’t always have everything, so here is a special sound nearly only ever heard at night.  These calls are by tawny owls: two adults and their young, talking away to each other. They were recorded during a video clip of a hedgehog at one of our feeding stations.

These owl may be easy to hear when walking in the woods at night and easy to record their calls on the Trail Cams but rarely do I actually see them in the woods.  A few days ago, my neighbour and friend showed me where our local barn owl roosts in the day.  All I could see of him/her was the tail feathers, as they were that well hidden amongst the leaves and branches of a hawthorn tree but it was a special thrill all the same.

Rain, rain, go away….

After that lovely warm sunshine of the other day, March ended with her usual weather of blustery showers. It doesn’t take much warm weather to have me dreaming of long summer days, well manicured lawns, a garden full of flowers, butterflies and bees, and large pitchers of ice-cold margaritas.  Neither does it take much cold, wet weather to have me longing to sit by a roaring coal fire with a hot toddy in my hand, dreaming of long summer days…..  No pleasing some folk 🙂

We had Oscar, our owl, carved in June 2014 and at the same time we had a Green Man carved at the base of the same tree. Although the Green Man was scorched just after carving, it has taken until this year for his weathered-look to ‘set in’ and to make him easily recognisable.  I only noticed today how much better he looks after this last winter. A fairy house was also carved in the same tree but that’s not as noticeable, yet.

All’s well with the hedgehogs and the squirrels.  I haven’t seen the vixen since the other night, or the partridge, which is a shame.  The owls have been very vocal at night lately but other than the odd pair of eyes shining back at the camera on video, I don’t have them on film. Nibbles and Delilah are still running around the woods and have taken to pinching the peanuts from the woodpecker feeders!  As if walnuts, hazelnuts and monkey nuts strewn around the woodland floor and in squirrel feeders weren’t enough! This is the best photo I have so far of Delilah and her growing belly. It was a screenshot taken from a video the other day.  I have been focusing the cameras on capturing the hedgehogs and foxes at night, so I have taken them off the squirrel feeders and changed the programming to be more video rather than single shot but that tends to mean I miss those lovely shots of the squirrels during the day.  Here is the screenshot of Delilah…

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As the hedgehog house has been sitting empty on the hog yard by the house for a couple of weeks now, I have decided to move it behind the sheds on the edge of the woods and hopefully one of the hedgehogs will make it a home and you never know, maybe a sow  will have her young there. I have rigged up a Trail cam to watch the house, so I can check any interest without having to lift the lid and disturb any occupants.

Hog housebehind shed

I’ve also rigged up another camera behind our large log pile. The other night the camera managed to catch a shot of one hedgehog coming out from under the front of the log pile. We were pretty sure that a few hedgehogs had made it their home but couldn’t say for sure. Hopefully, with another camera watching the back, we may see if more have been using it as their place of hibernation over the winter months.

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Woodpeckers, fighting pheasants, squirrels, hedgehogs and The Lone Ranger

Well, it has been a very wet and miserable day here on Anglesey.  Too wet for working in the garden or the woods, so we took a ‘walk about the policies’ making a list of the trees we need to get to replace those that are dying, or to fill the gaps left by those we have had to cut down, or which have fallen in the storms over the years.  We have horse chestnut, sessile oak, English oak, beech, ash, Chilean pine, linden, field maple and aspen all as mature trees with recent additions of hazel, larch and sweet chestnut.  As well as buying more beech and sessile oak, we will get some English Whitebeam to add to our little collection. The other day I braved going out to the edge of the wood to video Storm Doris whipping all our mature oaks, beech and other trees around, just like young willows blowing in the wind.  It was scary but amazing at the same time.  I stood right up against the trunk of our large and mighty oak to take the video (pictured above in summer).  It felt the safest place to be for some reason.  Below is the link to view the storm hitting our little woodland.

Storm Doris hitting our small woodland

Nibbles and Delilah have been out and about in the high winds and heavy rain yesterday and today but not when Storm Doris hit, obviously.

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Delilah

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Nibbles

Nibbles is quite a confident male red squirrel and today he showed it, when Phoghorn Leghorn had a fight with a new pheasant on his patch, Pretty Boy. Nibbles didn’t just hang around to watch, he was actually chasing them away.

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Phoghorn Leghorn

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Pretty Boy

Click the link below to see the video of Nibbles chasing the pheasants away.  They had decided to fight right where there was a scattering of dropped seed and nuts and he wasn’t happy that they were getting in his way of eating.

Nibbles chasing the pheasants

The Trailcams caught lots of good photos and videos today and yesterday. Here is a video of a male and female woodpecker.  I have put a little caption to it. The female is the one on the right and after a little while she flies onto the camera post and from there chirps what sounds like bossy directions to the male, who is trying his best to get at the nuts inside the squirrel feeder. It isn’t long before he flies to join her on the post and gives her a few chirps back. I can just imagine what he is saying to her. 😀

“If you truly loved me, you would get me that nut right at the back”

As I write this post, Eric, our guest for the winter, has the run of our kitchen. The lights are all out and there are three food bowls and one water bowl tucked away in the corners to encourage him to go foraging for his food.  It won’t be much longer (early April hopefully, weather depending) when he will be released back into the wild but until then he has to have lots of exercise and other than his hydrotherapy sessions in our bath every few days, he gets to run around our kitchen finding his food. Eric stays in the guest room (where else?) with the lights out but curtains open, so that he can know the passing of the day and see the moonlight.  He sleeps all day and comes out to feed and exercise at night. We are keeping a close watch on his weight, we don’t want him to lose weight but neither do we want him to get too fat.  If hedgehogs get too fat, their soft underbelly can be exposed to predators when they curl up into a ball, instead of being safely tucked away within a ball of very sharp quills.  Eric has his grown-up quills on his head now and trust me, they are extremely sharp!  They can pierce through even thick, suede rigger gloves, believe me. Ouch!

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And last but not least for today, meet Tonto aka The Lone Ranger… Click the link below.

The Lone Ranger

Doris came calling

Thankfully the storm has passed and we’ve been very lucky the damage that it left behind wasn’t worse than it is. Steve has been busy all day with the clearing up. We had two large limbs down from two oaks. Funnily enough, none of the older and more rotten branches in the woods came down and the two that did were from very healthy oaks.  One was on the leading edge of our little woodland and took the full force of the storm.  I watched the storm at its peak from Olivia’s room in the attic and the tree tops were swaying all over the place.  Even tree trunks were moving, as if they were thin strips of wood and not the mature trees they are, some with a girth of over five feet.

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The wind break that we have had up for about six  months now, didn’t survive too well, although I am surprised that any of it is still left standing.

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Steve has been busy clearing up the fallen branches…

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Thankfully, the linden tree which has the squirrel drey in, survived just fine and Nibbles is still a happy chappy.  He was out and about checking the damage to his little woodland not long after the worst of the storm had passed and even when Steve was still in the woods clearing up!

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A walk in the woods

Another wet and miserable day today but a walk in the woods cheered me up. The bulbs are well on their way now and even a few funghi attempt to brighten up a dull day.

In the middle of our little woodland stands a very large, old beech tree. She has a huge hole in her trunk, big enough for a small child to fit into and even walk through to the other side.  A few tree surgeons have said she ought to be felled but the Grand Old Lady stands firm, with no other sign of rot and every year she has a beautiful, healthy canopy of leaves.  So, she stays exactly where she is and will for many years to come (hopefully).

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Our Grand Old Lady of the woods

 

What? More fungi!

Sorry, I can’t help it ☺️

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Smokey Bracket?