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
for....

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

It's raining siskins

This mild, wet winter has seen quite a change in the population of overwintering small birds. Conspicuous by their complete absence are the blackcaps. Reed and corn buntings and stonechats are present but not in their usual numbers. Chiffchaffs and white wagtails were around in early winter but we have not seen one in the valley for some time. A truly remarkable sight was a flock of several hundred (probably) female and immature wagtails feeding alongside rooks, starlings and jackdaws and heavens knows what else on the tops above Chaumussay in January, so many it was like a blizzard. A lack of binos prevented a definite identification and when we went back they had moved on.

What we have instead, to our great pleasure, is a swarm of siskins (carduelis spinus, tarins des aulnes). We first met these gregarious little finches in Cala San Vicente, Majorca, during a memorable holiday when we could only get around on foot or by public transport. Simply staying put forced us to examine the wildlife in our local environment, including the gardens of our villa.

Mr and Mrs Siskin enjoying a good meal of peanuts

The siskins have taken to the peanut feeder in particular, displacing the house sparrows and greenfinches and holding their own against the great tits.

If another bird comes too close, both male and female will half-open their wings and spread their tail, flashing their underside in the interloper's face. The female presents her streaked cream fluffed-up body and pale yellow forked tail. The male delivers a flash of vivid yellow tail against an almost black background of primary feathers.

When will it be my turn?

Frequently, they tumble into the air and a punch-up ensues.


Fight! Fight!