Saturday, 18 June 2016

Absent, but not inactive....

We haven't blogged for over two months...
it isn't because nothing has been happening....
far from it!

We've just been preoccupied with other things...
trying to recover the potager...
keep on top of the mowing...
fat chance of the latter, but the potager is now looking a lot better...
but the soil is still almost unworkable.

When there has been a break in the interminable rain, we've been out in the garden....
and, as a result, getting behind on everything.
There also haven't been the opportunities to take many photos...
other than flooded fields and meadows, grey skies...
and rain.
At one point, we even recommenced feeding the birds...

Then, the meadow...
well, only the side nearest the house can be mown with the ride-on...
the other half, towards the river will have to have the attention of Betsy in the first instance... once I can safely get her onto there without damaging the meadow soil, the machine or myself.
I mowed a very large area with Betsy...
to use for the cucurbit "maggot" and to clear a hunting area near the owl box...
I managed to get some off before the rains came...
but the rest, all the loosest stuff anyway, is somewhere near Nantes!!
That which remains, muddy as it is, is still in a very shallow pond!!

I have managed to get to.... paddle to in reality...
the owl box camera trap... and there has been plenty of activity...
but, as I have no idea of how to get a video onto "Blodgja" that is visible on all platforms...and not just Windows, you'll have to put up with stills!


This is Madame... at 5pm one afternoon...
having some rest and recuperation...
and, probably some fresh air...
the stink in there must be awful!!
And this is M'sieur... around 10pm the following evening...
he's brought a nice fat vole for Madame and the sprogs...
it is either in his right claw... or on the platform...
in the video that followed, you could see him pick it up...
in his beak, before entering the box.
So... as you see... we've been absent, but not inactive!!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Mega Migration Arrival

We spotted a Bearded Tit yesterday....















Yes...
a Bearded Great Tit!!


Actually, it was helping itself to the donations of nesting material....
from the cats!


Sunday, 27 March 2016

Happy Easter!

A wild Tulip.....



Thanks to Susan of Loire Valley Nature for taking us to see these!!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Snakes alive....

A quick picture post to announce that the Fritillaries are flowering....




One of the pale ones

Yes, the ditch has plenty of these... and more to come.

Monday, 7 March 2016

The Owl in t'Ole, the Vole's 'Oles and a Coypu's rear end....

We've been having a lot of Tawny Owl [Strix aluco] Chouette hulotte activity over the past few weeks...
regular trilling sessions in the hangar...
and male and female calling from by the river...
and the male doing "territorial tours" at intervals throughout the night....
so we put the new wide-angle "piege photographique" out by the owl box.
We decided to get a wide-angle as  a second one...
as the narrow angle of the first gave too many triggered videos with nowt in them!!

This is a real stake-out!

Initially, we recorded nothing... the camera was too far from the box!!


Now in a much better position....

Once I had repositioned the apparatus...
ie: banged the wooden stake in the ground in a different position...
not difficult given how boggy the ground is at the moment...
then mounted the camera on top...all highly complex!
Result!!

And this is the view from the camera
The hole has changed its appearance...


Did you knock?
Hey, you...robot...
...did YOU knock!?

She...because of the size...
we'd noticed last year that she seemed to have difficulty getting through the hole...
designed for a MUCH sleeker species... a Barn Owl...
she was being mobbed by a lot of small passerines....
and, fortunately for us, she was up an hour or two earlier than normal!!

video

video


VIDEOs:
The first shows intense activity by the mobbing crowd....
the second shows the Owl reacting to the mobbing.

So, on the Faune Touraine site...
Pauline has been able to record evidence of nesting....
for the second year on the trot!!
We just need to record the male arriving with food...
and it would be nice to record the young this year...
another reason for the wide-angle version!
Dad looked very confused last year when he turned up...
with a nice vole... and there was no one at home!!

Meanwhile the first camera trap has also been busy...
about three weeks back we saw watervole activity...
Southern Watervoles [Arvicola sapidus] Campagnol aquatique....
two individuals jumping into the river...
again, I put the camera in the wrong position...
expecting riverbank activity, I placed it on the longère side of the millstream...
result...
a lot of nada!!

Then, just over seven days ago, I took a different route back from the owl box...
mainly to check on signs of deer activity...
and, drawing level with the sighting of the voles, I saw this at the side of the path...

This is a view down on top of a Water Vole runway
The run continues along the bottom here...
and the three dark areas above, are where it has sat and fed.

A well trodden vole width path, leading from the old ford, comes up to this feeding area.
So....


Yes... it is active this close to the house
This is the camera on tripod....
I have extended the column, because the pictures below....
taken at half the height....
aren't showing the vole clearly enough.

The camera was quickly repositioned...
and on Leap Day we got results... both night and day!!
First we got a night shot....

Just triggered the camera...
video

And then some daytime feeding.... watervoles are active day and night...

The vole is at the left....
this will help you spot it in the video below.
video



Then, yesterday, we had a very good daytime sighting...
a vole came bobbing along in the coffee "au lait" floodwater...
and swung into the bank opposite the lounge windows.
Cue frantic dash for camera and repositioning...
out it came and continued downstream...
click... click... click...
it went under the bridge....
I played "Pooh" voles and ran to the front door...
click... click... click...
and it swung into the bank again...
and vanished into the undergrowth.
Got a good few pix...
check...

Oh! OH!
No....OH NO!!
Aarrrgh!

I am using the camera on manual at the moment...
it was set for bright sunlight...
I was taking pix of the Siskins a few days back...
when we had some sun!
All the shots were black.... my fault entirely....
should have taken a test exposure...
just before the little blighter re-appeared...
and taken note of what the camera was trying to tell me!
It has happened before...
it WILL happen again... of that I am certain!
As will the opposite... the all white shots!!

But, where that little vole swung into the bank and vanished....
was right where the well used path to the feeding area begins...
it may well have taken a selfie?!
We won't know until I've checked the camera....
and I am only checking every few days to avoid too much disturbance.
In the meantime... the coypu exited left!

This is a Coypu kit... so much larger than a Muskrat or a Watervole.




Posted by Tim
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