It’s been a few weeks now since Delilah, our resident red squirrel, has been seen on the Trail cams here or at our neighbour’s place and squirrel sightings in general have been dropping. Worryingly, this has coincided with the daily appearance of a sparrow hawk which was witnessed one day trying to grab a squirrel out of a tree but on that occasion the squirrel was too quick and managed to get away. We have one male squirrel regularly visiting our feeders that has had a huge swelling (I think an abscess) on the side of its face for quite a few days now but as the swelling has started to go down, a number of very deep puncture wounds can be seen in a circle around the side of its head which are suspiciously the shape and size like those that would be left by a sparrow hawk’s talons. Red squirrels are lightweight creatures: I know, as just a couple of weeks ago one was killed on the road just outside our place and we moved it off the road. I was worried this poor creature was Delilah but as she is easily identified by a slightly deformed rear right foot, I checked this one over and was relieved that although this squirrel was female, it definitely wasn’t Delilah. That said, Delilah is no longer around and as she was a daily visitor to the feeders here and at my neighbour’s place, the conclusion must be a sad one. 😞
Before the squirrel numbers started to drop, up to eight red squirrels were caught on the cameras daily and it was becoming impossible to tell one from another. Delilah had her second litter of kittens around 12th August and we eagerly waited to catch her kittens on camera when they left the drey a few weeks later. One young male kitten was caught on camera a few times but hasn’t been seen in a long while and another small kitten was seen just a couple of times but I couldn’t identify the sex and that kitten has also disappeared. Here are the kittens…
Kitten assumed to be Delilah’s
Another kitten assumed to be Delilah’s
As soon as we realised a sparrow hawk had taken to hunting daily in our area, we took down two of the squirrel feeders which were on trees in very open positions and we’ve put them up on trees that have lots of twiggy branches and close to large evergreen shrubs, where the squirrels can take cover and where the sparrow hawk won’t have such an easy target.
We still regularly see on camera Delilah’s three boys who were born this spring but it won’t be the same without Delilah. She was quite a character. Whenever we walked or worked in the woods, the squirrels would scatter in all directions but not Delilah, who would hop up just a little further in the tree and wait until we moved on and then come back down to the feeder. I watched her once act like a squirrel possessed by demons, chasing a male squirrel away from her territory when she had a litter of kittens in a drey there. If we left anything lying around in the woods, within twenty-four hours, Delilah would have noticed and inspected it and I have photos and videos showing her jumping inside garden sacks, holding on to garden spades, going in to inspect hedgehog houses and the like. It was as if nothing happened in her woodland that she didn’t know about.
I check the Trail cams every day as usual and I can’t help it but I hope that the cameras have caught just a glimpse of our gorgeous Delilah.
I am such an infrequent blogger lately and it has been ages since my last post but that does mean that I have some special news to tell. Please click the title of this post or the flower avatar to view this post properly, as just reading this as an email is boring
Delilah our resident red squirrel has had another litter of kittens!! At the end of July she had started looking a lot heavier than usual and was getting less and less acrobatic leaping through the branches of the trees, until it was quite obvious that she was pregnant again. Then one day she was a lot slimmer. I wasn’t expecting to find the drey, so was amazed to look up one day in our little woodland and see a dark knot of twigs in the fork of two large branches of an oak tree and realise I had found it.
Then I was lucky enough to watch her run into the drey one evening and catch her on a Trail Cam coming out of the drey the following morning. It will be a few weeks yet before the kittens start to come out of the drey. Delilah couldn’t have built her drey in a better place for me to catch it all on camera though, as she has chosen a tree right in front of my hide! Thank you Delilah 😀
Delilah’s other three kittens are doing really well. The boys are growing big now and almost the size of their mother. One keeps to himself and stays close to home and we have called him Billy, whilst the other two go nearly everywhere together. Here is a lovely little video of the two of them. I love the little sounds they make when they ‘talk’ to each other.
So, the pregnant hedgehog that spent a night or two in the hog house decided to move on after a couple of nights and hasn’t been back since but I am still hopeful that another hedgehog will move in and the mice that live in the log pile right behind it and run all over the hog house at night, won’t move in!
There has been a lot of goings on in the woods at night. The three pregnant sows are still around, as are Big Daddy and our autumn orphan, Eric and there is another smaller hedgehog about every night at the feeding station, who I think is another male. They don’t visit the feeding station that often, which I suppose is only to be expected now that there are more worms and beetles about. Here is a great little video, showing just what they all get up to when we are fast asleep in our beds at night. The video shows a female hedgehog happily eating, when she is rudely interrupted by a male but keep an eye open for other hedgehogs in the background. The female is pregnant: you can see her pregnant belly clearly when she is being pushed around by the male.
Moving on to the squirrels…..I am still busy trying to find Delilah’s drey or den (that is Delilah at the top of this post). I have moved two of the Trail Cams around again today and have them focused on holes in two trees. I will leave them there for twenty-four hours and if nothing shows then they will be moved somewhere else. The leaves are opening up on the trees now and in a matter of a week or two it will be almost impossible to see where she has her kittens snuggled away but be sure that as soon as I find the drey I will let you all know!
Everyday, the woodpeckers visit the squirrel feeders and persistently try to get at the goodies inside. One has chiselled their way in, damaging the feeder in the process. Another job for you to do, Steve.
I was very pleased to see that one of our wildlife cameras had taken a photo of a hedgehog a couple of nights ago. I haven’t seen it since but hopefully tonight will be another mild night and Steve and I will walk around the garden and woods after dark and see if we can see them again. I have started leaving food out at night again, just in case they stay out of hibernation for a few nights longer. It isn’t a very clear photo sorry but it’s proof for my nature journal. From the distance of the hedgehog to the camera and the size of the hedgehog, I reckon this is Big Daddy. He is our largest hog and a big beauty about twice the size of all the other hedgehogs that visit our feeding stations.
Nibbles and Delilah are still out and about but I still haven’t caught them together on film for a few days now. Still, it is good to see them looking well, other than Delilah and her injured rear right foot, which doesn’t seem to bother her as much as it used to. Here is the latest photo and video of them …
Click the link below to see a video of Nibbles…
Eric, our resident crown green bowling ball of a hedgehog, is keeping his weight steady since I last posted about him, at a very healthy 995g. Hopefully, I can keep him at that for a few weeks before I release him back into the wild. I’m going to get that on video. Any blubbing you hear in the background will most likely be me crying as I say goodbye to him. 😀
… and lastly, we have a few clutches of frog spawn in both ponds now. Our small pond, which we call the Puddle, as it has leak and never holds deep water for long, has had a small ball of frog spawn for just over a week now but yesterday more was laid. The large pond has a small clutch but it was teeming with frogs and toads today, so it shouldn’t be long before we have more frog and toad spawn. The only trouble is that we have quite a few Great Diving Beetles in both ponds and their favourite chow are frogspawn and tadpoles.
I think most of you have now realised I have a main site, as my stats showed this morning that loads of you had actually visited my main blog site and looked at the other pages I have. Thank you. It is much more interesting than reading the posts in the emails.
I have been busy going through loads of squirrel photos and videos again today. Managed to catch Nibbles chasing Delilah around the woods (it is mating season) but the film is too grainy to put on YouTube for you. I do have a couple of nice photos of them though (Nibbles is on the left) and one video of a female Great Spotted Woodpecker chipping away at a squirrel feeder to get to the seeds inside.
I will leave you with a video of a female Great Spotted Woodpecker trying to break into the squirrel feeder. I’m off to practice my guitar chords: I need a break from squirrels and woodpeckers!! Click the link below:
Female Great Spotted Woodpecker