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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

John's Mammals 2022 (1 Viewer)

There's been a further upheaval in the fox hierarchy and Smudge has moved above Patch. Scally remains boss dog.

The other night Rip demonstrated her superior intellect. She'd eaten one drumstick and I threw her another one. She sniffed it and then walked away. Hey, what? She went to the corner of the main drag so she could see right up it to the car parking area. No people, no foxes. She came back, picked up her drumstick and trotted off with it secure in the knowledge that she wasn't going to get robbed en route. All the foxes are pretty clever but Rip has wiles they don't!

Added Stoat to my (low) mammal list for the year today - was up at the field and had just walked through a gap in some vegetation when heard a piercing scream and a ruckus behind me. Looked back over my shoulder and a flurry of fur semi-exploded out of the brambles 30 feet or so away. Predictable end result - Stoat 1 Rabbit 0

The noise gathered a couple of concerned Great Tits too which sat almost silently in the branches above before things eventually died down.
First of all, fox news. Things have been happening.

I mentioned Smudge has moved above Patch in the hierarchy: Smudge is relentlessly collecting food and taking it elsewhere - his communication skills now encompass a look at me of "please give me another drumstick, I can take more than that" and his understanding of a wave of my arm towards the archway where he disappears meaning "no, that's all you're getting, get on with you". I've seen him take four but he considers three an adequate load and will usually be satisfied with two.

Patch suddenly started looking threadbare a week ago. Originally due to the damage being top of tail I thought it was because he is now "scapefox" for the other two dog foxes but then he scratched a hank from his flank down to skin and I thought it could be mange. I have the Fox Society's homeopathic pills for which they reckon great things so I immediately put the all foxes on a prophylactic dose by soaking their chicken. After a week Patch looks at any rate no worse and I've seen how fast a fox can go downhill with mange so I think the stuff must work! It hasn't affected how they eat the stuff which was my initial worry.

The other thing that happened, and all this may be connected, is that the dog foxes took to yammering right on the doorstep from 2330 to 0200 or even later. They may have been trying to drive Patch away completely due to him smelling ill, arguing between themselves (Scally and Smudge) or, since I shut them up the first night with an extra feed and similarly bribed them thereafter, they may have learned that if they call loudly enough, the chicken man comes and feeds them - they are smart animals after all.....

Anyway, after two nights of gritting my teeth ignoring the noise and hoping I wasn't testing the neighbours' patience too far, last night was the return of peace and quiet. Fingers crossed.

In other mammal news, and I'm sorry for the gap, on 17 March I made my first visit to the canal Badgers. All right, I was actually there listening for Little Owl for the year but no matter, I was able to watch at least two Badgers going through normal evening routines of changing bedding and having a scratch before setting off on their feeding patrols: I got pictures, too. A Soprano Pipistrelle came and flew round and round my head so I was probably already attracting midges and mosquitos.

On 22 March I went with Roy for a second go at the Belted Kingfisher and had a much nicer view with a very distant record shot for our pains. On the way back Roy spotted a Chinese Water Deer in a field near Aylesbury which was a good year tick though I want a really good photo for next year's calendar so that species remains a work in progress for the moment.

On 27 March I felt I needed a day's birding and popped down to Pennington, noticing Rabbits en route and about 20 Fallow Deer does near Brockenhurst on my way down through the New Forest. It turned into a good or even great day out, with LRP for the year along with a fistful of wildfowl and waders at Pennington, then a cracking Goshawk among several that showed distantly from Acres Down, Crossbills calling from pines across the down and a Cuckoo calling distantly but distinctly and distinctively for a second year tick. Firecrest in the car park wrapped up Acres Down and I considered how the day list was going before scuttling over to Eyeworth Pond for Marsh Tit and Mandarin, both of which put on a great show. Marsh Tit was bird species no. 81 for the day and I reckoned with a little luck I could now head homewards and sweep up another 19 in my local area. This I managed by about 1730 with a Grey Heron in the heronry at Fleet Pond (hadn't seen one in or over any of the wetland habitats I'd visited through the day!) At Moor Green I also had a point-blank encounter with a Weasel but as I was carrying the 500mm on my tripod and it was almost under my feet (minimum focus distance 4.5m) no hope of a photo before it vanished under a bramble bush. Always nice to see though!

And you're up to date.

I'll put some photos up in a bit.

A nice afternoon on the Great Orme a couple of week back great encounters with the goats.


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A weekend in Scotland had Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Bottle nosed dolphins and roe deer but no photos apart from a Roe deer running away.



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Saturday morning was at Woodwalton Fen for Chinese Water Deer overload some nice encounters of 30+ along with Muntjac and some brown hares.



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On a mostly non birding family Easter minibreak, but got this rather tatty Roe Deer in a field by our Travelodge (Seaton Burn) this afternoon.


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On a mostly non birding family Easter minibreak, but got this rather tatty Roe Deer in a field by our Travelodge (Seaton Burn) this afternoon.
Deer are moulting and many look pretty scabby at present.

I was at Woodwalton Fen after Chinese Water Deer yesterday and many of the twenty or so I saw were tatty, often around the neck or on the back.

Some weren't. I've got a load of photos to sort through, I'll post some as soon as I can. I also saw the fattest male Muntjac I've ever seen!

Birds were good there as well, 10+ Grasshopper Warblers singing (saw two briefly), Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers, Willow Warblers, strangely only a few Blackcaps though. Common Tern fresh in. At least four Marsh Harriers, a male paired with a boldly marked female and a couple of other female/immatures.

On 14th April I got up at 0300 and was on the road in half an hour, so as to reach Woodwalton Fen and have time to walk out to the far bank before sun-up at 0607. I made it comfortably but hadn't allowed for the possibility of morning mist that blotted out the landscape around me and made photographing Chinese Water Deer returning to the reserve woodland after overnight feeding on the open fenland problematical!

All I could do as I sat below the skyline of the tall grassy bank with the heavy dew soaking through the seat of my trousers (something else I should have anticipated) was persevere in the hope that the sun would quickly burn off the mist.

In the end I did get some kind of results both at the bank and later, wandering about the reserve and sitting in the hides.


Chinese Water Deer X 5

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Second half, after moving from my rather damp position on the bank.


Misty morning on the reserve

The bank and open fenland

Chinese Water Deer on a cut area within the reserve

Rotund male Muntjac

Male Chinese Water Deer

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I had a dusk expedition to Fleet Pond LNR the other evening for a year tick of roding Woodcock (which I got.)

On my return I walked in from parking the car burbling away to myself so the foxes could recognise my voice, as I usually do. In the hope of getting a shot of the Woodcock I'd taken my night camera set-up and on returning switched it on so I wouldn't miss any unusual angle fox opportunities: a change from shooting from the doorway might be useful. And it was - here are the boys awaiting my presence on the front lawn. You can see how worried they were by the human walking towards them...

Patch standing on the left with Scally lying behind him; Smudge sitting on the right.

Edit: I forgot to mention that Patch is standing because he had come up the pavement to meet me - he's done this several times now - and then led me back towards the house!


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Not too much recently but visited the Melanistic Grey squirrels and the garden muntjac is becoming very settled in the garden (phone photo)



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