Sunday, 20 September 2015

Back to Badgers

The depressing news about extending Badger culls beyond the county of Gloustershire is a sad state of affairs indeed! The constant call to “cull” is in the media with saddening regularity and conservationists need to speak out and actively oppose this nonsensical culling. 

The illogical issue of Badger culls gives much, "Food for thought.”  There is so much to read, digest and consider. This makes a decent starting point. CLICK HERE

All this talk of Badgers has made me think about the welfare of my own local Badger setts. There is one sett in particular I often check out to see everything is as it should be. This is the sett whose occupants I have often watched and at times been close enough to certain individuals, especially the large boar,  to hear them breathing. 

I have seen one of the sows a couple of times recently, just before the crops were taken in, she would often leave the sett early evening while there was still enough daylight to get decent views, and walk a path along the crop boundary, eventually disappearing into the corn.

There is another sett I have been keeping tabs on over the summer, the occupants here have been keeping very busy, almost doubling the size of the sett. There are definitely more Badgers here than in the aforementioned smaller colony, which I think only comprises of three adult badgers. 

Now, I have yet another sett I am keeping an eye on. This one was discovered by Pete, and it is a cracker. It is the biggest of four setts that I'm now aware of on patches I regularly walk by a considerable amount. I have no idea how many "denizens of the dark" reside here, but by the large amounts of digs and other signs of activity, I feel this could be an impressive group of badgers.

So, this weekend I set myself the task of trying to get some pictures of the inhabitants of this newly discovered sett. I headed out on Friday evening armed with my trail camera and a small bag of peanuts to bait a few areas up. let's see what the weekend brings?

On a misty Saturday morning, I tried to take a picture of shards of sunlight streaming through the trees. I was also pleased to discover that Friday evening had been a success with three different badgers being caught on camera. 



 I relocated the camera on Saturday evening to cover a trail that Pete felt the Badgers were using. He was right, and on Sunday morning I was pleased to see more badger activity captured on camera. 

I am very pleased with the results of a successful weekend. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Staffordshire Birding

Friday saw me heading to Harrington Airfield in Northamptonshire in search of a reported Wryneck. I have been to this airfield before for a reported Red Backed Shrike a couple of years ago, I dipped then, and I dipped this visit too. I arrived around 11am with the bird last being seen at about 10.15am. There where quite a few birders searching the area, but it was never relocated. I left at around 3pm.

Bank Holiday Monday and another Wryneck reported. Even better, it’s in Staffordshire. I set off and about an hour later arrive at Berry Hill Fields. This is a site I have never been to before and to be honest I had no idea where to go. Grabbing all my gear from the boot I ventured onto this large expanse of scrub land and horse paddocks. I hadn’t walked that far when I crossed paths with another birder and he pointed me in the general direction saying, “Just keep walking that way until you see a group of birders.” 

Berry Hil

About 10 minutes later a group of birders in a small copse of trees came into view and a few minutes later I had joined them. 
The place was alive with Spotted Flycatchers and a few Whinchat also put in an appearance.

Spot fly

Eventually the bird I was there to see put in in an appearance. This was my first Wryneck, what a great bird. I watched it flitting between bushes and Hawthorn trees, occasionally dropping out of sight onto the ground. Once I was pleased with my views of the bird, I set about trying to get some record shots.

While the Wryneck was out of sight, I set up my digiscoping kit. To be honest I didn’t think this would be of much use as the bird was very mobile and trying to follow an active bird with digiscoping gear can be a frustrating exercise. The camera was going to be my best bet of achieving a record shot, but the bird was distant, light was poor and as it was a bank holiday, it was obviously raining. 
I had to push my camera well into digital zoom to achieve these record shots due to the distance involved. As record shots go, they are OK!




Then, the Wryneck disappeared for about 15 mins, when it again appeared it landed back in the Hawthorn tree, and just sat there. The digiscoping gear was set up. I lined it up, focused and the Wryneck was most obliging. 


WryneckP30002 jpg


WryneckP30004 jpg
I even managed to Videoscope some footage.

More than happy with my views and record shots of my first Wryneck, I started to think about packing the gear up when a Pied Flycatcher put in an appearance.
Pied Fly

One of the regulars told me that the previous evening, there had been at least 8 Common Redstarts in the same area. I was very impressed with this venue and it will be a place I will be visiting with some regularity in the future.