Jun 212013
 

Walking in Bristol, I heard magpies shouting and managed to get this footage of two magpies seeing off a cat. There’s at least two pairs of magpies locally nesting. A couple of days earlier the magpies had seen off a fox feeding in the garden.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY9ABQ1l3Gg&w=600]

Nov 192012
 

Two Jays (Garrulus glandarius) arrived within five minutes of putting some loose peanuts on the bird table.

Do they watch or can they smell them or does one send messages to another? They don’t seem to travel in flocks and I am sure that they do not message each other as that would be reducing the amount of food each bird gets but it is uncanny how quickly they arrive.

Having said that the squirrel,absent from the garden whilst the peanuts have been scarce, arrived quickly too and there was a bit of  a stand off. We have had Jays in the garden for all the time we have lived there but because of the news that the acorn and beech mast crop had failed I was expecting to see more. But up to know we have just had two. I do not think I could keep up with peanuts for lots of Jays anyway! They are splendid looking birds with fantastic plumage and over developed personalities! If I were a bird I think being a Jay would be a good choice, bouncy, colourful and over the top!! Oh and a bit feisty!

 

 

Nov 132012
 

I am pretty rubbish at identifying waders but I do love to watch them! I do know lapwings and Blackheaded gulls even in their winter plumage.

I love Sea Mills even though when ever we go it is cold or wet, and now I want to live in the  New Signal Station! As you can see from the photos that the technical half of Trosen has taken it didn’t disappoint this time!

Nov 062012
 

We have a hole in the end of the garden which I identified as a badger latrine without the benefit of having seen a badger. I have now actually seen one in the garden when I did one of my nightly sweeps with a torch checking for any creatures. This is quite surprising considering the fact that the garden is bounded on both sides by a brick wall and drops away very steeply at the end down to the garden on the next street down.  All very exciting but this means that the nightly sweeps are now more frequent!

Further evidence of the badgers has now come to light with the appearance of three large holes dug in the lawn (photo below). Holes in the lawn do not bother me as the lawn is really only for the grasshoppers. I put some peanuts out last night and peeped out several times in the night but saw nothing. The peanuts were gone this morning so someone ate them. I will be keeping an eye out again.  What I really need is a camera trap but that is out of my reach at present.

A badger scrape in lawn in urban garden.
Nov 032012
 

Why write a blog about the stuff I am interested in? I was in the bath just now and was thinking about it. I think it is just to share the feeling that looking at natural history gives me. I cannot even find the right word for what I am interested in really. Birds, mammals,flowers, insects, trees, amphibians, fish, weather, soil, hills … get the picture?

It is not to provide some rare insightful knowledge about anything. It is not to be smart, clever or a show off. It’s not to aid some research paper or look for theories.  have no specific knowledge of most of that list except for horticulture which I do!! But I have a great love of all of the things on the list, some more than others. Birds especially. The feeling this morning on looking at the end of my garden to see that two days after I filled the feeders after an enforced summer break ( no money for bird food) the birds are back and appear to bear me no grudge, is why I feel the need to write this.  Or watching the dark clouds against a blue sky roll across the city and knowing that there will be a rainbow is enough to lift my spirits for a while.

At the bottom of the garden in my neighbours garden is a tree with bright orange leaves  which look like flames. When the late sun catches them it looks like a fire and I keep thinking of those adverts years ago about living flame gas fires!! I have a living flame  right outside of my window!! At least until the winds come and blow it out.

I have never been a great fan of Autumn, mainly I think because of weeks of raking leaves as an apprentice garden in the ’70s but I think that the melancholy was lifted a little this year by the discovery that I could stand outside in the dark and hear a few arriving Fieldfares calling or that I could watch the red deer rutting at Ashton Court.

If you inclined to be a bit grumpy or miserable then I think that having an interest  such as mine dilutes that moodiness and makes life so much better!!

So no profound scientific stuff or facts that you have never heard but just the stuff that makes me happy and to me that is worth sharing with anyone.

Caroline Maudsley

 Posted by at 4:39 pm
Nov 012012
 

On Saturday we went for a walk to Ashton Court in Bristol. The weather was bright and cold and the views across the city were amazing. With parking only a pound it was good value too, but trying to type your number plate into the ticket machine as someone yells the numbers to you across the car park leads to some funny mistakes!! I know I should know it but I haven’t had the car long!

Anyway, we decided to go to look at the red deer and see if they would display any rutting behaviour. We were not disappointed as several large stags were bellowing and posturing to each other. I have only seen this stuff on the BBC’s Autumnwatch so I was waiting for Simon King to give me commentary in my ear! No such luck so I had to teach my fellow walkers (husband and grown up son). Just as I was explaining  about parallel walking  two of them obliged and walked up and down bellowing and sizing each other up. Again as I discussed how they smell the air to see if any of the females are in oestrus, so they performed on cue. Wonderful!! We spent a long time watching and waiting for them to start to fight but no luck. I assume they were tired and they had plenty of females to share. I am not sure how much natural behaviour they show when kept in an enclosed area but the stuff we saw was exhilarating.

Last night I watched Autumnwatch again and on Rum the red deer were rutting like crazy but I know you do not have to got to Scotland to see them!!

Red deer at Ashton Court, Bristol, parallel walking and calling