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Squirrels vs Tawny Owls... plus Kingfisher Delights!

When I returned to Yew View after the Christmas break, the site had suffered floods again from the River Severn. This is a common occurrence here and the river will often breach the banks and creep up the lower part of the garden. Less often, it will rise high enough to reach half way up the garden (some 150m or so) and at this point, the levels are high enough to affect the power to the camera at that end of the garden. Because of this, we lost the cams at owl mansion; the box at the river end of the garden, which has been option 2 for our tawny pair. Also, there were a series of power cuts over the Christmas break. Such breaks in power also wreak havoc with the camera set-up. This meant that many cameras went down and did not reboot, meaning more potential footage is lost.

When I return to the site, it can take me a day to get the 30 or so cameras back up and running and to work out what cams are still offline and what the issue is. I am by no means an expert in this and I have just learnt what I need to regarding the set-up.... enough for me to run it and trouble shoot the system to a certain degree. When it comes to the electrics and the wiring needed, then I have to call in the professionals!

When I got on site, the temperature was still about -3 degrees. The icy and foggy journey up the M5 was not pleasant, but Yew View looked just amazing. It was so still and quite an eerie light, with everything frozen into a hard frost....

After sorting out all the electric issues of tripped switches and cams down, I finally returned to the office. Luckily the office part of the site is separate to the main house, so I have felt safe to return to work, despite the latest lockdown restrictions.

Luckily, apart from the river end of the garden which had flooded, many of the cams had recorded up until the end of the year, before the power cuts, so I was able to lift some footage. We had also managed to get some cams up and running in the new year.

I was able to see that, as with most years, the squirrels were competing big time for the nest box again. We always have battles as the main nest box is a very desirable residence! Sometimes, the squirrels go in the box in the day and then leave, sleeping somewhere else at night. This can correspond to the tawny only checking out the box at night... so no conflict.

Sometimes the tawny roosts in the box during the day... and this can create a lot of tension, with some big battles going on. From what I have seen, whoever is actually in the box, usually wins. The tawny is able to defend the box if she is already in there. If the squirrel is in the box, she seems reluctant to attempt to come in. This battle is typical and they are pretty fairly matched in a small space like this, with the squirrel having a manoeuvrability advantage.....

The camera then went down for a bit. The next time it came on, the squirrels seemed to have taken over during the day. The tawnies have still been visiting at night and checking out the box if they are not in ti at night. As much as the squirrels are quite appealing inside this box, we have invested a lot of time and effort here, with three cameras to film the tawnies, so I really would rather they found somewhere else. We do this by constantly removing any leaves or bedding they bring in. Eventually, they give up... well they have the last few years! I just hope we can discourage them long enough for the tawnies to take over again.....

The weather conditions have been pretty dire and you can see this, in this clip...

Looking at the other cameras, it has been fabulous to see both male and female kingfishers on the post. An added bonus was that, in some clips, there was some rare sunshine. This really makes their colours pop and they are truly beautiful! Enjoy these clips and I hope to bring you more in the coming weeks.

Sometimes, we also get other species here.... I rather liked this Wren checking out the post!

I also lifted some stills from this footage...... sometimes I just want to look really closely at these jewels!

Hopefully, the electrics will be repaired at the river end very soon, so I can check out the footage from the tawny box down there. I am pretty sure they will next in that box if they can't get to the main nest box.... we'll have to wait and see!


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