Thursday 10 December 2015

Snapshots from the cycle of life

Hemel & Bovingdon (BMT): I thought you’d all be pleased to hear that a) no-one has nicked the chicken wire off the Kidney Vetch and b) the Kidney Vetch has not yet been eaten by slugs or rabbits. So far, so good.

Out on Blackbirds Moor this week, a Mistle Thrush has started singing. According to garden-birds, they’re the first of the Thrushes to begin singing in the lead up to spring, getting started in December. The Blackbird follows and then the Song Thrush. I really do love how nature seems to approach winter with outright optimism: buds are already formed, birds are starting to sing and the year’s end is still 3 weeks away. It’s as if nature shouts “spring is coming!” from the moment it ends until the moment it arrives.

Wednesday bucked the trend and was actually sunny. Blue sky, heart-lifting sunny. Earlier in the week, the Siskin flock by the canal had increased to more than 30 birds and I hoped that I might be able to get some photographs or better video footage. I achieved neither. Either the birds were obscured by cones, catkins or other inconsiderate portions of tree. Or, the light was so harsh and awkward that only bits of bird were visible whilst the rest was lost in pitch black shadow. This photographic farce was mercifully curtailed by the flock only staying about 10 minutes out of the hour or more I was there. By mid-morning, it was time to do something else.

At the Brickworks, two curious burrows have appeared. Each is located on the side of a bank of earth, with a circular entrance 40-45mm diameter (see above). Something has obviously dug extensively, piling up soil like larva in front of the holes. Yesterday, I set up a camera trap to run overnight, hoping to solve the mystery.

Early this morning, I was greeted by the resident Kestrel (top photo) and the trap had been triggered. Only 2 clips were of any use. A couple of more knowledgable friends suggest the small mammal might be a Wood Mouse. Having encountered youngsters on site back in July, we know they're present. Better footage would certainly help, so, if I can achieve that ahead of Christmas, I will. With a bit of luck, the beady-eyed Kestrel won't have eaten them all before I can identify them!


  1. Nice relaxed shot of the Kestrel.

  2. Thank you Si and Marc for your kind comments. She normally flies off as I follow the footpath past her but for some reason she decided that morning to stay put. A bit of blue sky and sunshine would have been nice but they seem to be very rare at the moment.

  3. Great kestrel catch Lucy, and fascinating stuff re the excavations! Never seen a mouse do so much digging.

  4. Thanks Martin. Yes, I know what you mean about the mouse. Having done a little reading, it seems they do indeed dig extensive underground burrow systems. These are just so obvious, lol.


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