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The badgers are back and it’s looking good for the tawnies!

A misty start at Yew View soon turned into a beautiful day as the sun burnt through and temperatures began to rise. With the Spring flowers really taking hold, it was wonderful to see the honey bees taking advantage of the crocus pollen. They are a wonderful early food source for insects and looked just beautiful….

The daffodils on the sheltered bank were also looking wonderful. These are always the first daffodils to flower in the garden and were making a stunning cheery show and a golden promise for Spring arrival on site.

We have not had much action in the badger sett chambers for the last 6 months. The badgers are still visiting on site but not occupying the setts in the garden at all… for the first time since I have been working here. This week, however, they did come in and bring in some bedding, so hopefully they will be making a reappearance. The cameras were a bit grubby, so those have now all been cleaned … just in case they move back in!

Tawny activity is still brilliant and I am hoping the female is getting ready to lay. For the last two years, she has laid her first egg in the first week of March. Every day, one of them roosts in our eco nest box at the far end of the garden. This box, from The Barn Owl Centre, is made from recycled plastic and means no maintenance. I have had stock doves nest in here and I will be interested to see how it performs if the owls ever choose to take up residency there! Tests on temperature fluctuations have positive and if it means a box can remain in place for a long time, rather than being replaced every few years, then this represents a good investment for me and the wildlife! This tawny certainly seems to have given the box its seal of approval!

The main nest box still has our female (I think) in there just about every day. They can be quite vocal and I love the special calls they make to each other in this box….

In a natural nesting hole, the tawnies would take off wood from the inside of the chamber and this would help to form a substrate on which they will nest. I line my tawny boxes with a course wood chippings mix and they can be seen ‘paddling’ with their feet, making a small hollow, hopefully to lay in. The clips below show this individual picking up pieces of bark and then paddling. The nest two clips are the same event, but from the two different camera angles. This box has two internal cameras and one external.

When she returned to the box early one morning, she had obviously just been for a quick bath. Rather damp, she preened in front of the camera for a bit before settling down for her day….

This box is often visited by squirrels , jackdaws and stock doves. The squirrels are the most persistent and I do wonder whether her long term roosting in this box in the day, has been a ploy to ensure it remains hers. This week there was an interesting squirrel encounter. This squirrel appeared on the box in a panic. The footage shows that the local buzzard was intent on a meal! The squirrel races into the box to avoid the swooping buzzard, only to be met be a rather surprised tawny! The next two video clips show the outside camera, and then the inside camera…..

It is always difficult setting up cameras inside a new box when you are not entirely sure where your subject is going to choose to lay. The lighting has to be set as well as the focus and there is nothing more annoying that watching an entire season of nesting that is slightly out of focus!

This second camera was focused presuming she would nest in the far corner. Usually she lays in the further corner from the entrance hole. Whilst roosting, she has actually sat right up against this camera, meaning I don’t get very good images. When she moves back a bit, then I can see how amazing the shots are going to be if she does raise owlets this year… I am so excited about this season! #gallery-19805-27 { margin: auto; } #gallery-19805-27 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-19805-27 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-19805-27 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

The river has been very high, meaning my otter camera has been retrieved on its floating platform. Hopefully it will drop a bit in the coming week and I can return it to the bank side.

Finally, shots of the spring blossom, alive with honey bees taking full advantage of this early nectar source.


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