Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The best kind of visitor

The Safari had the stealth-cam out all the while we were away but the batteries must have been on their last legs as we only got daytime activations. Yesterday we got round to buying some new batteries and set it up late evening overlooking the ground feeder with some sunflower hearts in it. If the Long Tailed Field Mice were still about they'd come to the food and trip the camera and of course there's a multitude of passing cats to be snapped.
The time on the camera shows it must have been waiting for us to put the food out, it was only a few minutes earlier that we'd set the scene up!
And it was munching away in the morning not long after we'd been out with Frank through the back door only a few feet from the food tray - brazen these mice are!
But what of the intervening hours of darkness? Yes, there was cat after cat after cat but we also hit garden gold.
We haven't seen or heard any evidence of the local Foxes for several months so were really chuffed to get this one passing through on the first night the camera was set up, which begs the question is it a regular route for them???? Tonight's camera might shed a little more (infra-red) light on the question.
Not entirely sure what it's stopped to sniff at, can't be 'looking' to see if Frank is still about as it's well past his bedtime. We now need some tasty morsels that the cats wont be interested in to see if we can tempt it/them to linger longer - boiled eggs perhaps; any other suggestions anyone. Are there cubs??? Do we still have Hedgehogs coming into the garden?
At lunchtime we were allowed out for a couple of hours and as we'd had a call from LR about the orchids at the nature reserve we decided to go and check them out. We pulled up at our usual parking spot and as we locked the Land Rover doors something dark lying in the grass caught our eye. We thought we'd best not step in it and saw that it wasn't that yukky stuff that should be picked up but something bizarrely out of habitat and totally out of context. It was a Mermaid's Purse, or more accurately an empty egg-case from a Thornback Ray. How'd that got there? Dropped by a passing gull, passed through a passing gull - hope not we picked it up!, fallen out of a child's seaside bucket or fallen from a fisherman's car. Anyway it's possibly the oddest find we've ever had there and we've had some weird stuff over the years.
We know they like it wet but nowhere near as dry as a wetland!
We had a look over the water but all was quiet. A pale thing attracted our attention.
Was it a giant dead Eel, was it the arm of  the long lost mythical Boggart, looked far too big to be a piece of Yellow Water Lily root or Reedmace rhizome. What was it? Later, from the other side we were to discover it was a large piece of tree branch covered in old bleached water weed - almost disappointing!
Our mission to find the orchids didn't go quite to plan as we'd seemed to have forgotten exactly where they were and ended up looking about 15 yards away from their patch. We did find them in the end. Most only had flower buds like this large and stout Common Spotted Orchid.
But some of the Northern Marsh Orchids(?) were just waiting for another sunny day to open fully.
We didn't count them but were later reliably informed by MMcG that there were at least 45 spikes waiting to open.
After that we had a look from the Viewing Platform and enjoyed a few Swifts until the weather cooled a little and about 30 turned up only to depart as quickly as they came whe nit warmed up again a few minutes later.
Coming out of the scrub we bumped in to the Kids Club being led by Ranger Steve from the caravan site on a guided wildlife walk and we were able to show them something really special.
Most of them had never seen any kind of newt before and some hadn't even heard of them but they all had a turn of gently holding it, even some of the mums! There were three altogether, all small ones from last year, which is our best count on the reserve.
Not far away in the scrub is our favourite tree on the reserve, an Elm which has obviously succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease but is now recovering and growing strongly - great to see, is it too far from the colonies of White Letter Hairstreak butterflies to hope they might find it - actually there are at least two other Elm trees on the reserve, the nearer one is much bigger than this one but bigger is more easily found by the Elm Bark Beetle and Dutch Elm Disease might not be far away.
Another great couple of hours on safari.
Where to next? With the antics of #spinelesssimon on Springwatch we might have to get the underwater camera out and set it up in our pond at work tomorrow to see if our 3-Spined Sticklebacks are as interesting as he is. Our hols have come to an end so Patch 2 will be back in play too.
In the meantime let us know what needs a few hours of sun to burst forth in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

I'm loving the fox Dave, a terrific garden visitor.