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!!




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...

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.



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....

3 comments:

Kate said...

Oh, magic! You have so much going on - and voles too!

Amelia Frenchgarden said...

Great news that you have got the owls again. They look very exposed in the trees without the leaves just now but it does not seem to bother them. all the better for you to see them. Amelia

Tim said...

Kate... the voles are still active...
although one was predated...
a pregnant female based on the condition of the nipples...
very present, but still sealed.
I don't know what got her...
but the wound was deep and had taken one ear and the back of the skull.
When shown to the cat, it recoiled and started sneezing...
and wouldn't go near it when I placed it on the ground...
my thoughts are, because of that, a mustelid...possibly stoat...we have seen those near the house... and which got disturbed by something else... I passed nearby on the mower the previous day.

Amelia, it is wonderful to have the owls... Tawnies don't like to be hidden away, so have adopted the box happily!! But that opening is designed for a Barn Owl like yours... and they are far more delicate in structure.
To see that large female Tawny squeezing her way in is quite amusing.
It was a feather caught on the opening that alerted us to their presence.
We now have video of interactions between male and female...
but we are not sure if they have started breeding yet...there is no food visible in any of the clips.
Because of the almost continuous drip feed of rain, vole numbers are well down this year at present.