With my trip to the Cairngorms last week, I had not been to Yew View in two weeks…. and wow… how much everything had changed! Everything seems to have leapt into action and the whole site was alive with life!
I knew that a new bird for the site had been spotted… a Reed Bunting and it seemed to be feeding on a millet feeder that we had placed in a quiet part of the garden beside a mature hedge. We had tried the millet seed up at the normal busy feeders, but it had remained untouched for weeks. As I walked down to the area, I spotted a stunning male, sitting on the tray, enjoying a millet feast! Grabbing a Bushnell and a clamp fitting, I attached a 46cm close-up lens and positioned the trail cam level with the tray. It would be great to capture this more nervous visitor up close… closer than I could get with my camera. I returned at the end of the day and was thrilled to see I had captured lots of clips.
It only seems to be the males visiting at the moment, but I am going to set the trail cam up again and hopefully capture some more clips.
There is lots of nesting behaviour .. almost too much to keep up with on a day a week onsite! Anything that has a camera on it can be accessed via my phone using the icatcher app. This means I can view the cams and see if there is anything exciting going on that I can download when I am onsite. With 25 cameras now, it is a veritable ‘Springwatch’ there and it certainly makes you realise how much wildlife a garden like this can support if properly and sensitively managed!
Perhaps one of the most exciting has been the return of the Swallows! A couple of weeks ago, a very early single bird returned. It has had to wait until last week for its friends to also return to the nesting sites. The swallows nest in a double garage that used to be the farmhouse stables. A number of artificial nests have been erected on the eaves and they have used many of these. Choosing two that looked very well used, I set cameras up on them a month or so ago, so they would be ready for the swallow’s return. There is some low level lighting put in, but I have not put that on yet, so often the cams are in IR as the garage can be quite dark. I have been delighted to see individuals at both the nest cups I have put cameras on!
These set-ups are pretty exciting as I have never had a camera on a swallow nest before. I am sure there will be lots of clips to come in the coming months!
Another old swallow nest tucked up on the eaves, looked like it had been taken over by a wren. With lots of leaves and moss sticking out, I set a little HD cam up on there. I have been watching the activity on my phone so these are simply screen captures from the app… the wren has returned a few times, but so has the swallow who is not impressed with the squatter! It will be interesting to see how this scenario developed over the coming months.
After the disappointment of the tawnies deciding our lovely nest box was not for them this year, we have had a pair of jackdaws visiting. I rather like these animated characters and, in fact, have 4 jackdaw nests at home, in my nest boxes! This pair have been taking a close look and showing the classic ‘tail waggling’ courting behaviour, which I captured nicely in one of these clips. They have also been emptying the box of all the materials I put in for the tawnies!
I also noticed a blue tit using a nest box in the courtyard. This one does not have an internal camera, but I wanted to set the trail cam up to see if I could capture some footage of the birds in and out. The only way to position it in the right position was to attach a clamp fitting and to clamp the Bushnell, upside-down , from the gutter which runs above. I made sure I did not have the date and timestamp on the video as I knew I would need to rotate the video in editing. It worked a treat and I was pleased to capture a few nice clips. You don’t have to always use your Bushnell up the right way! Sometimes, you can have it sideways or upside-down and then use software (I use iSkySoft Media converter) to simply turn the video to the correct orientation afterwards!
More exciting Spring news is that we think our badger has had cubs! Using an artificial sett, we have a camera set up outside. I captured a clip, where the female emerges, considerably smaller than she was a few weeks ago, and you can clearly see her teats… we hope she has lots of little bundles of black and white joy tucked safely under there!
She has also been bringing in bedding material and we will put some more straw out for her this week…
This camera has been great for us to observe sett behaviour and we hope to capture the first glimpses of the cubs on this view. In order to get prolonged views of our badger family, I decided to set up a feeding station with a camera. This camera has given us some great views. This week, I changed the camera to a brand new one from Vivoek. It is very exciting because this is possibly the best camera I have used so far for this kind of application. Many of the other deliver excellent results, but they are difficult to adjust and change the focus on. This new one has a removable lid and there is a zoom and focus adjustor inside…. perfect for wildlife applications. Working with Huw, from iCodes, who have supplied all the cameras and the infrastructure for us to monitor everything with iCatcher Console, I will be trialling this new camera onsite.
I am absolutely thrilled with what we have achieved so far and particularly the night time footage. This camera has intelligent IR, meaning I can say goodbye to burnt out, over exposed areas of a scene! The clarity is incredible and I have been watching some lovely night time badger action on my phone! Here are a couple of daytime clips I captured before I left the site on Thursday. Make sure you select to watch them in full 720 HD!
I only had a screen capture form night footage, taken from my phone… but we are going to get some incredible footage from this camera and we hope that the cubs will be brought to this feeding station later in the year!
The insect life at Yew View is wonderful too and much is down to the excellent planting, meaning that there is already a lot of nectar and pollen sources around.
The whole place is buzzing with so many different species, that it is impossible to take it all in! We are having Worcestershire Wildlife Trust coming in August to do a Bio-blitz, so that should be amazing, as I simply cannot identify the huge amount that is here!
I am very excited about what we have in store over the coming months and I will do my best to share as much of it as I can with you via my blog and the Yew View website. If you are on Twitter, then follow the #YewView for updates and images from the site as I regularly post whilst I am there.
Now, back to check my icatcher app on my phone…. has that wren returned yet?………….