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Yew View updates October 2021

I felt it was about time I gave a Yew View update!

At this time of year, lots is going on to get cameras and nest sites ready for next season. As the seasons change, different wildlife starts to appear and it is often a struggle to find enough hours in the day to process and upload all the footage available and get it out to all those who are really interested in the projects I undertake and to see the amazing wildlife that visits the sites that I work at.

We have three ponds at Yew View. In the lower garden area, there is an ornamental pond, with fish and a larger wildlife pond, on which I have a camera on a post. Over the years, we have had kingfishers visiting regularly, but for the last year we have not seen much of them. This month, both a male and female have started to visit a couple of times a week. What a joy it is to see them again. They have to be one of our most stunning birds!

Many followed the story of Strix and Aluco, our tawny owls, last year. I live streamed the camera and shared the story of this pair rearing one chick, Nyx. It was so wonderful to be able to share the story and see how much pleasure it gave to so many.

The pair have started to visit again... just checking out the site, making sure it is all still there and they start to spend more and more time there as we head towards the end of the year.

A nesting space like this is a valuable asset to a range of species and there is always competition for the box. The squirrels are what present the most challenge and we have to be diligent with these guys, removing their piles of leaves as soon as they put them in there. In this way, it keeps the box free of debris that may put the owls off from taking up residence again... especially if the squirrels spend the night there when the owls are prospecting and building up confidence to breed there again.

This year, we have had jackdaws also showing an interest. They have not been a contender before so it will be interesting to see how this story pans out. They did help by removing some of the squirrel leaves though!

This tail flicking is a bonding behaviour. Jackdaws mate for life and it seems to happen a lot when one is in the box, inviting the other to also come and join it.

Jackdaws are a very animated and intelligent species. They spend a lot fo time investigating the box and the substrate. Here, one posts some of the wood into a hole where I had had a camera in the past!

As we move into November, the owls visit nearly every night. Strix (male) often comes in and calls for Aluco (female) Sadly, one of the cameras does not have audio, but the new one I have just installed, does, so we should have sound this year!

When they are interested in using the space, they do this 'paddling' behaviour, testing out the substrate in the base of the box. I always put a deep layer of rough bark and leaf littler in there.

Here, Strix calls for Aluco, who flies into to the platform....

Aluco then starts to check out the box again... it's all looking good!

We have another owl box at the other end of the garden. This one also has a camera. In the last week, I have filmed Strix in here. He used it a lot last year as a winter roost and then as a day roost when Aluco was brooding and when Nyx hatched.

In Oct / Nov, I make sure the box is ready for the next season. This year, I have installed a new Hikvision mini PTZ camera. This camera can move around the box and can zoom, all controlled from my central computer. It meant getting up to the box and installing it up in the tree...... luckily it was a beautiful day!

Lots of kit needed!.....

I have a platform I can stand on up there, making it easier to access and work on the box.

I replaced some of the lining of the box that had been destroyed by the squirrels and installed the new PTZ so it could look down on the occupants, but also look up at the entrance. It may all looks a bit intrusive, but the owls are used to these cameras and the lights inside.

Just before I left, a squirrel came into the box so I was able to put the new camera through its paces. It should give us another wonderful view of these special owls if they breed again!

The outside of the tawny box live streams on my website. When they start visiting again more regularly, we will love stream the internal camera as well. Fingers crossed for 2022!


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