Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Busy bees

The bees are so fed up with this cold grey weather that they really make the most of it as soon as the sun shines. This morning there was a lot of pollen being brought in.  As soon as they saw the camera the bees were pausing on the outside of the hive to have their picture taken before going in.  The photos show well the variation in colours of the bees (for non-beekeepers, the bees all have the same mother but many different fathers) and in the size and colour of their pollen loads.  

Because the light was good there was an opportunity to try a few flight shots as well.

Most of the pollen was bright yellow, usually with very full baskets, with some medium sized loads of orange and occasional cream or pale yellow.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Who's been eating my dinner? - Part 3

The fox continues to visit the garden every night.  As I mentioned last time, she tries to get here early so the hedgehog hasn't eaten all her food.

The fox and the hedgehog seem to tolerate each other without difficulty, leading to some remarkable photos.

You can see below the hedgehog's reaction when the fox arrives.  Fortunately the hedgehog had been busy eating peanuts on the lawn and hadn't stolen the fox's dinner.

The fox has been noticeably more relaxed recently and even sits down to feed.

To ensure that they both get fed I put food in this hedgehog feeding station which seems to work quite well.  It is an old plastic laundry basket fixed to the ground with tent pegs so the fox can't get in.  That's a driveway light behind it.

The good news is that the fox is now walking without difficulty.  The other good news is that there are now two hedgehogs.  I have watched them and caught both on video, and last night the camera caught them both on a still photo.

The male is larger and slightly paler in colour.

In this clip the male is making amorous advances but the female isn't interested so he gives up and starts eating the fox's dinner instead.

Here's hoping there will be hoglets in the garden later in the season.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Bird of the week - Lesser redpoll

Redpolls have been much in evidence in the garden in the past couple of weeks and the males are in their finest breeding plumage.

Less well coloured birds may be females or first year males.

I have been collecting data on birds in the garden for BTO Garden BirdWatch since 1995 and I see from the records that the first time I saw a redpoll here was in 2011.  Interestingly the BTO still list it as a scarcer species so no long term data are available.  I did find this BTO plot  showing a huge increase in numbers in gardens in recent years.

Despite this the lesser redpoll is on the Red List and is much scarcer than it was years ago.
There are no winter distribution maps but the summer breeding range is shown here.

You can read about identification of lesser redpolls, common (mealy) redpolls, and arctic redpolls here.  Read more about lesser redpolls here.  Listen to Sir David Attenborough's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on the lesser redpoll here.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Early morning sunshine

I had gone looking for adders but it was too cold.  Either that or the adders saw me first.  Still there was time for a few squirrel photos.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Who's been eating my dinner? - Part 2

As you would expect, the fox has come up with a cunning plan.  After finding the newly emerged hedgehog had eaten its dinner the other night the fox has set its alarm earlier to get there first - what you might call the German beach towel strategy.

You can tell it is the same fox that has been coming all winter by the scar on its forehead.

The number of colour still photos and this video clip show it was completely unconcerned by the flash on the camera.

There were 14 videos clips of the fox, each 30s, so it was here for quite a time.  I had put down some peanuts and it spent most of that time picking them up and eating them.

And by the time the poor old hedgehog turned up the fox had eaten all the dinner.

You can see the hedgehog on the left at the edge of the picture on this clip below.

All that was left for the hedgehog was to lick the dish clean.

So I have now devised what I hope is a fox-proof hedgehog feeding station, made out of an old laundry basket, in the hope that they can both get their fair share.