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Old Sunday 1st January 2012, 17:12   #1
Farnboro John
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John's Mammals 2012

As an ideal alternative to Olympic fever, herewith the next year's mammals thread.

I have had a slow mammal start to the year with only Rabbits and Grey Squirrels today. This was in part because I set out to see 100 bird species in a day, along with Clare, Steve and Barry. We failed by seven species as the weather went absolutely horrible in the afternoon.

Nevertheless 93 species in a day is good value and we had some good birds among the full tale, including Jack Snipe, Goosander, Marsh Tit, Whimbrel (in Pagham Harbour), several Med Gulls and a Merlin.

Happy New Year everybody!

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Old Sunday 1st January 2012, 18:50   #2
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Only 7 house mice mammal wise but I did manage to visit a good Pied Wagtail roost.

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Old Monday 2nd January 2012, 19:56   #3
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Mammal business still slow on Day 2, as I was unwilling to let the list moulder below the century.

After checking out the duck at Cutt Mill (hybrid. Yuck.) but adding Mandarin and Kingfisher, I went across to Thursley, where the wind was keeping everything low and mostly invisible. Certainly the shrike had done a runner for the day. I did manage a couple of Green Woodpeckers, a Meadow Pipit and a Crossbill calling overhead and a Stonechat. Two Roe Deer were feeding along a line of gorse out on the bog. 99.

Late afternoon I went out again, to Papercourt water meadows, figuring I would have Short-eared Owl for number 100. The best laid plans of mice and men.... the place was stuffed with Ring-necked Parakeets. Eventually the owls came out, hunting mammals rather more assiduously than me: one Short-eared Owl and one Barn Owl. I watched them till the light went then made my way home. 102: and relax.

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Old Thursday 5th January 2012, 22:04   #4
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The cat has just brought a live Yellow Necked Mouse in, safely rescued.

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Old Friday 6th January 2012, 14:58   #5
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I'm glad you managed to save your cat from the YN. It could have got very messy for your pet.
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Old Saturday 7th January 2012, 18:21   #6
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Visited Sculthoorpe Moor again today, went via the scenic route and near Lakenheath had two roe deer, several hares and loads of rabbits.

At Sculthorpe, had good views of Bank voles 3+, a couple of brief sightings of weasel, too quick and elusive for photos, and a very brief view of harvest mouse just as I was leaving.
Cracking barn owl did a couple of close flybys, woodcock and willow tit.

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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 09:23   #7
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Happy Birthday John!

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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 09:30   #8
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Don't want to grip you off too much, but encountered yet more Wolves ...a pair high on a snowfield while I was hiking, light snow falling - one standing watching me, big grey individual, heavy winter coat, intense eyes, the classic stuff of wolf watching.

No other mammals to note however.
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 19:52   #9
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Spent the afternoon patiently scanning the reedbed edge at Sculthorpe, but alas no harvest mouse. Still, a great spot to spend a few hours - quite beautiful and constant bank vole/water rail activity.

One of the staff told me that the harvest mouse population seems quite small there - few nests found - so there's been a programme of releases to see how they do. They've got a lot of reedbed improvement work lined up to enhance it for a whole range of species, inc. bitterns.

Jos- wolves in the snow makes harvest mouse spotting (whether successful or not) seem a bit minor league!
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Old Wednesday 11th January 2012, 19:56   #10
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Happy Birthday John!

James
Thank you James!

I had a whole weekend of wildlife to celebrate my birthday, and used the birthday privilege to drag Maz into the field on two out of three days.

Saturday we went to Norfolk for a photo tour and for Marion to tick off Western Sandpiper whether she wanted to or not. We had a really cracking day from the start, with two Barn Owls on the drive up, two male Golden Pheasants lingering on the verges at Wolferton, then brilliant light from over our shoulders while we were watching the Western, close Blackwits, Wigeon and Brents, a huge flock of Golden Plovers wheeling in the sky whenever the nearby Peregrine flicked its wings and a showy female Marsh Harrier.

At Holkham the Rough-legs skulked but the Shorelarks allowed a close approach, then we had a merry time disentangling the three Redpoll species available at Titchwell before heading home. Mammals were conspicuous by their absence.

Sunday Maz was allowed a lie-in as I went off with Steve Davis for the Blue-winged Teal, which had gone, and the Junco, which showed well. We also managed both Red and Fallow Deer in the New Forest, as part of another good day that culminated with a bunch of Hawfinches and a single Brambling at Blackwater Arboretum and a male Hen Harrier at Deadman Hill.

Monday morning Marion graciously allowed me to drag her out for her 404th bird with my second visit to the Junco. We had good views not only of it, but also of numerous Crossbills.

All in all, a great weekend, but the year remains short on mammals and I haven't heard from the seal sanctuary, so I must contact them to see what is going on.

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Old Thursday 12th January 2012, 06:02   #11
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My first Red Fox of the year woke me up calling right outside the window at 0420 this morning. Hurrah!

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Old Friday 13th January 2012, 19:07   #12
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I am glad to say the local foxes, who normally start calling in early December, are now in fine voice.

This afternoon I bugged out of work a bit early and zipped over to Papercourt where three Short-eared, a Barn and a Little Owl all provided fun, and Ring-necked Parakeets and Mandarins colour outmatched only by a glorious sunset.

At last the mammal list is starting to accelerate with a Water Shrew bobbing cork-like in a clear water ditch among the owl-infested water meadows, while a shy Muntjac zig-zagged through the rushes. Several Grey Squirrels in the oaks overhead and six or more Roe Deer wandering nervously in the gloaming also gave good views, one velvety buck grazing to within twenty yards and then jumping the ditch without ever realising I was there.

A great way to finish the week.

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Old Sunday 15th January 2012, 08:57   #13
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Saturday was Spanish Sparrow day but the site yielded a bonus in the shape of cracking views of Brown Rat under the hanging feeder. Another great reason to go for this delightful bird.

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Old Tuesday 17th January 2012, 18:10   #14
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A good week adding Grey squirrel, Wood Mouse, Fox, Chinese Water Deer and Otter to the tally.

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Old Wednesday 18th January 2012, 10:09   #15
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A superb shot of an albino bat in flght here - http://ht.ly/8xunW
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Old Wednesday 18th January 2012, 10:50   #16
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A superb shot of an albino bat in flght here - http://ht.ly/8xunW
Interesting that it's been seen over 3 years (probably not different bats, right?) I wonder if that's a longer than usual lifetime for an albino. Perhaps being a nocturnal critter the color isn't as important? But then I'd think the white would stand out a lot at night...
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Old Wednesday 18th January 2012, 16:11   #17
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White might stand out in daylight but unless there is light to reflect off it I doubt it would show up much at night.

Interesting that the BCT chap who commented thought it was a Natterer's. I would have said the ears were far to small in proportion to the head. I would have assumed a larger bat, possibly a Serotine.

I also don't understand the suggestion that it is a partial albino, as it appears uniformly white, with pink on bare parts.

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Old Monday 23rd January 2012, 19:03   #18
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A weekend away visiting Marion's parents provided me with a springboard to launch myself across Northern England, so after a Friday run up the motorways Saturday morning found me sitting in the car up Teesdale watching Black Grouse while the furious North-westerly wind rocked the vehicle on its springs. The grouse were quite settled and I wasn't going to get out and disturb them, so I had good views and got some better pix than usual.

By 1130 I had seen about enough, so I had a quick look for Dippers towards Cow Green Reservoir then zipped across country to Ambleside where a hot pot of tea in the Pier Cafe was very welcome. Unfortunately although Otters are still irregularly seen in the area, the pier holt is not in use this winter.

I moved on to Leighton Moss, where the wind was not quite as fierce due to the shelter provided by hills and woods. The log reckoned the Otters were best from Lower Hide, and that was where they had last showed, so I made my way there briskly, dodging one heavy shower in another hide on the way and picking up Smew for a reserve tick.

I hadn't been scanning the lake at Lower Hide for very long when my roving bins locked onto an Otter on the far bank and then a bunch of them in the water in front of it!

Trying to count drops of quicksilver is hard work but fortunately the whole gang came most of the way across towards the hide and by careful observation I established there were five!! They loitered just beyond a straggly patch of broken reeds, most of them fishing but two cubs wrestling and fencing with their teeth in a long-drawn out game. The show went on for over an hour and only the facts of deteriorating light and about 70 miles back to the in-laws dragged me away. As I returned across the causeway a Bittern closed the day with a flyover.

On the Sunday I got up rather later, as the forecast had been for overnight rain clearling through the morning and I was off up to Dovestones (a mere 13 miles) after Mountain Hares. After my last visit I expected an easy day. How wrong can you be?

The wind if anything was stronger than the previous day and was being funnelled straight up the valley where I planned to see the hares. I decided to walk right to the top and check out the moorland plateau rather than try to work the steep exposed slope above the tarmac track. Perhaps the wind up there was slghtly attentuated compared to in the valley but it was still buffeting me almost off my feet and the sail area of my camera and tripod was enabling the wind to treat me as a weathercock.

I tripped over a few Red Grouse that didn't hang around to see whether the long thing was a gun or a camera, and eventually reached the edge of the valley more or less undamaged. My plan now was to make my way over the edge far enough along to work my way diagonally down with my back to the wind - facing into it had sand-blasted my eyeballs into near opacity. Right on the edge the full might of the wind struck upwards across the rim and I went six feet backwards despite being braced for it.

Nevertheless I thought the buffeting would be less once I got properly onto the slope and although I had to take small steps and make more use of handholds than usual, I found it was just workable.Unfortunately the hares had sensibly gone elsewhere. I worked across several hundred yards of slope checking out obvious forms, hollows with micro-climates and all the likely sheltering rocks: nothing. I used my altitude to get an eagle's view of the opposite slope: still no sign of big white bunnies. Eventually I was back on the tarmac track and I really didn't feel like trying anything else.

I set off downhill towards the car park. I had gone about a hundred yards when I spotted a single golden eye in a spangled white and sandy face, regarding the world from under an overhanging rock with a sheltering fringe of tawny grasses perhaps thirty yards above the track. I must have walked straight past it on the way up.

Fixing that eye with my own, and forcing myself neither to blink nor look where I was stepping, I shuffled up the slope and took photographs as I closed in. At ten yards I was too close for the big lens and swapped it for the 200mm in my pocket, then closed with the hare, still staring right into its eyes. I got to ten feet, took a couple more pictures and then must have glanced at my camrea for a split second. In that moment's inattention it was off, so I whipped the camera up and rattled off shots at its departing backside. It turned instantly uphill and accelerated to max chat: I doubt anything terrestrial can match a Mountain Hare going uphill.

I had originally planned to visit the Northern Long-tailed Tits but much of the day had gone and I had to drive home in the evening, so knocked off.

Pix later.

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Old Monday 23rd January 2012, 19:41   #19
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Saturday Pix

Black Grouse X2
Otter X2
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Old Monday 23rd January 2012, 19:44   #20
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Sunday Pix

Mountain Hare X2.

Note sandy saddle.
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Old Thursday 26th January 2012, 23:04   #21
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My Sunday Pix a little different to John's




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Old Friday 27th January 2012, 17:35   #22
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Two afternoon trips to Papercourt for Short-eared Owls, Thursday and today, Seven birds yesterday, and my first Field Vole of the year. Unfortunately an Owl had it clutched in its beak by the back of the neck, so not a candidate for the year list.

Today only four owls, but one perched up right in front of me allowing a nice perched shot. I was enjoying watching three Roe Deer - a doe and two big fawns - until a complete cretin came along with a spaniel that stuck close to him and a pointer that was roaming everywhere and sniffing carefully. I marked it as a hunter and watched its movements carefully. I thought the owner was on top of things as he called it successfully several times, but it winded the deer and was away, totally ignoring the urgent whistles from the owner and then shouts. The deer all broke cover and legged it, one fawn became slightly separated and the dog selected its target.

I have just discovered that I have never before seen a Roe Deer flat out.....

The deer crossed the field in huge fast bounds, but the dog was also moving very fast and although the deer gained a few yards it was not getting clear as quickly as I had thought it would. However, it was plain that the dog was hunting by sight and the fawn led it through a bit of scrub and doubled - and completely threw the damn dog, which continued on its line, rejoined the path near me and belted off after its now departed master. Watching the chase I had not realised the dog's owner had simply walked on, assuming his dog would catch up at some point. I've always said there are no bad dogs, only bad owners and I stand by that: but if I go for the owls again and that bloke turns up I shall have something to say.

The fawn stood recovering its composure (also cooling down and resting) near me for some time. I wanted to let it move away without further disturbance but by dusk, as cloud mounted, it was still in the same place and I had to make a move. It watched me carefully but didn't spook, for which I was grateful as I felt it had had enough excitement for one evening.

As well as the Short-eared Owls, today Tawny, Barn and Little Owls were on site. I can't match Mark's parrot array but there were plenty of Ring-necked Parakeets present as well.

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Old Saturday 28th January 2012, 11:26   #23
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I have trapped yet another house mouse in my garage, if anyone wants to see it I will keep it until the 5th Feb

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Old Saturday 28th January 2012, 18:01   #24
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I have trapped yet another house mouse in my garage, if anyone wants to see it I will keep it until the 5th Feb

Mark
Might well be up for that, can't do this weekend but next Sat should be fine I think.

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Old Monday 30th January 2012, 08:27   #25
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There was an Otter showing from the Bittern hide at Minsmere yesterday evening, we had heard they were regularly being seen and low and behold within minutes one did! Also 3 Red Deer hinds at Dunwich, a Rat on the roadside at Fakenham and what I think was a Short-tailed Field Vole legging it across the road on my way home to Lynn...

Cheers,

Robert

P.s. John, I think I may have meet you and not realised on the 15th at Walpole Park, Hants? I was the lad standing next to you when a Med Gull dropped in near the bin...
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