Not quite the Spring day I had hoped for at Yew View this week, with the low, grey cloud persisting just about all day and obscuring any warmth we might have felt from Spring sunshine. The Great tit and Blue tits are checking the boxes out but no materials brought in yet, compared to two of my boxes at home that are full of moss! The Tawnies have decided the Yew View box is not for them and we are not getting any visits from them now. They must have decided to use their original site again. Hopefully I can tempt them with the posh new tree trunk nesting space I will be building over the summer, ready for next year!
I don’t think the box will stay empty though… the squirrels have had a go at bringing a load of leaves in….
then I saw the Jackdaws had peeped in as well as stock doves. I sure it will be occupied by one of these three in the coming weeks.
Our Harvest mice are still regular visitors and I am gradually getting better footage. I have changed the format of the footage to widescreen now and, this week, I set up a microphone on the feeding platform. Next week, I should have some clips with sound and it should greatly add to my footage!
I am also investigating other options to film these gorgeous little mammals and I will be traveling to Chester Zoo to meet Penny Rudd, an expert in Harvest Mice, after Easter. I want to find out as much as possible about them and what we can do to increase their numbers at Yew View. Also, there is very little known about their lives in the wild as most of the research has been carried out on captive creatures. It would be good to strive to film more of their wild lives and, hopefully, be able to provide Harvest Mice information to scientists and enthusiasts alike.
The badger trio that are occupying our Bramble badger sett are still visiting the camera sett every night, often sniffing around the chambers and then leaving. I now have the audio working in the chambers of the camera sett so I can hear them sniffing the camera as they cover the dome with mud.. again!!
The niger feeding station is still attracting large numbers of goldfinches and increasing numbers of siskin now. We have not seen the redpoll much in the last week or so. They seemed to have moved on now.
The millet feeders are proving very popular with the Reed Bunting. I set several feeding stations up in a quiet part of the garden, along the hedge-line, back in the Autumn. Feeding exclusively millet in the feeders here has attracted the Reed Buntings that do not like the busier feeding stations. We have gone from an occasional visitor to well over 30 when I crept down to take a look. It just goes to show that it is possible to support and encourage different species by not only feeding different foods, but if you have enough space, to separate the feeding stations according to food, so attract numbers of species that often flock and like to feed together. It is wonderful to see so many of them; a species I had not really experienced before I started working at Yew View.
Last week, I had put up the ‘Monster’ feeding platform. Primarily, I want to see if we can attract some raptors down with road kill. I attached a perch this week and will be watching out for some road kill over the coming weeks to see if we can tempt the Buzzards or the Tawny down. The river PTZ camera can keep an eye out and I can zoom in on the platform using this camera.
The river levels have dropped right back now and I felt confident enough to set the Bushnells back down along the bank to see if the otters are around again. Prints on the silt on one of the fishing platforms suggested they had been there just a couple of days ago. I set two Bushnells and hopefully we will start picking them up again in the coming weeks.
Finally, on checking the footage from the Kingfisher post, I captured some footage of a rather unexpected visitor… a female Mandarin duck!
This is not a species I have seen here before, although it has been recorded in the past. No sign of a male but we will be keeping our eyes open for her partner. I have already started researching duck boxes! Mandarins like to nest in holes in trees and take quite readily to large tree-mounted boxes. The ducklings, then leap out of the nest, often falling what look like scary distances, bouncing on the floor and then scuttling off to join their parents! It would be fantastic if a pair chose to nest here!
A wren also visited the post….
The Kingfishers are less frequent visitors at the moment. With the river dropping back to its normal levels, I daresay there are plenty of hunting opportunities and they will be looking to nest soon. The male visits most days, but I have not recorded the female this week.
The coming weeks should show lots of activity!
Don’t forget to watch out for our BBC Countryfile piece on Easter Sunday at 7pm…. you will be able to see all around wonderful Yew View and find out about the wildlife I regularly film there….