Monday, 29 February 2016

The fox's takeaway

I have been worried about the fox since last month when the video showed it was limping and eating the apples I put out for the blackbirds.  A photo a couple of days later showed it also had a gash on its head - perhaps from fighting or an injury from being hit by a car - so I have been feeding it each night since.

The fox comes to the garden near the back door each night and now appears to be walking without difficulty (assuming it is the same fox).  It is very cautious when it is close to the house - as you can see in this video clip from last night.  It snatched the food from the dish and ate it at a safe distance.

A few minutes later the fox also took a fancy to the dish and took that away as well!

A little later still the fox returned (without the dish), presumably hoping I had got up in the middle of the night to put out more food.  Either that or another fox was attracted by the smell of food.

I don't know how far the dish was taken as I haven't found it yet.  If it is still in the garden it is well hidden.  Maybe the fox is doing the washing up.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Bird of the week - Treecreeper

The treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) is an uncommon garden bird but I am fortunate to be visited by a pair many times a day.

Treecreepers normally eat insects but in winter mine are keen on the seed/lard mix in the woodpecker feeder and are especially fond of peanut butter.

This bird was eating peanut butter this afternoon.

The treecreeper is almost always seen hopping up a tree but occasionally ventures onto the ground at the base of a tree and very occasionally heads downwards - usually when it has spotted more peanut butter.

This one from yesterday was pulling bits of wood from the tree and discarding them, perhaps hoping to find more peanut butter underneath.

Treecreepers are found in most parts of the UK apart from high mountains and, for some reason, the area south of the Wash, perhaps because there aren't any trees.

There are about 200,000 treecreeper territories in the country.  Like many very small birds they do badly in very cold winters but numbers have been stable recently.
Treecreeper numbers in gardens peak at about this time but they are seen in only around 2% of gardens.

The longer term data from BTO Garden BirdWatch show the variations.

The treecreepers in my garden will presumably nest here or close by.  Treecreepers nest in small holes and cracks in trees but rarely use nest boxes, probably, in part at least, because the boxes are of the wrong design.  I have today made and put up a box modelled on a new design from the BTO in the hope that my treecreepers will use it.  If the box is used I'll be sure to write about it on this blog.

You can read more about treecreepers here and listen to Bill Oddie's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on treecreepers here.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Ice fishing

Two otters put in a brief appearance in the park yesterday.  Both were mostly hunting in the reedbeds (probably because of the ice) but this one popped its head through the ice to see what I was up to before disappearing.

Moments later it was up again before vanishing. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

Kite flying

I called in again to watch the red kites at Harewood.  The photography is challenging with bright backlighting from the sky so there is a danger of ending up with a slightly out of focus silhouette.  Here are a few of my attempts.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Bird of the week - Pochard

Another week, another diving duck.  After the recent smew and tufted duck on the blog I have been watching the local ducks with more interest.  The male pochard is a handsome chap with a bright red eye and finely marked plumage.

My Collins guide describes the female pochard as "the most nondescript duck: grey-brown ... tinged greyish ... tinged brownish".  To me she looks more silver and bronze coloured in the sunshine with the same fine markings on the body feathers as the male.  Her eye is dark brown.

Pochard (Aythya ferina) is mainly a winter visitor in the UK with only a small breeding population of a few hundred pairs (the rest go to Russia and Eastern Europe).

Populations across Europe have been in decline in recent years.  Pochard is now listed as vulnerable on the European Red List.

Read more about the decline in pochard numbers here.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016