Thursday, 24 June 2010

This blog will shortly be renamed the Butterfly Diary

I found Him on top of the feeding station again today, just pulling his head out of my squirrel proof seed feeder which was above my squirrel proof baffle with a triumphant look on his face.   By Him of course I mean Butterfly.  I could see him thinking 'I bet you would like to know how I got up here!'  The smug little critter!  I don't mind buying his breakfast but I do object to him smashing the crockery while he eats it.  I realised that the trees near the feeding station have grown quite a bit since we moved in so I moved the feeding station a few more feet away and retired to my study to watch out of the window. 

First he tried climbing the pole but was met with my first line of defence, the big, ugly, expensive baffle....


Then he climbed the nearby Laurel tree and took a flying leap.  So I was right, he had been jumping!  His little arms and legs were outstretched like one of those flying squirrels from the jungle, trying to glide though the air, but he could not quite fly far enough and bellyflopped onto the ground in a most undignified manner. He sat there looking very embarrassed for several seconds before carrying on looking for dropped seed in the grass as if he had meant to do that all along.  I think I won this round...I hope!

"Who are you staring at?"

Monday, 21 June 2010

How do you like THAT, Butterfly?

I will not be beaten by a squirrel!  Yesterday I went out and coughed up 15 quid for a squirrel baffle.  15 quid for a bit of plastic, honestly they are exploiting the suffering by charging that much just to keep a squirrel off your feeders.  Mind you I suppose they would really rather that the little devils just ate all your feeders so you had to go and keep replacing them.  Anyway, I digress, my feeding station is now fitted with a very ugly plastic dome.  Lets hope it keeps him off the feeders.  He did not look amused when he saw it!

"What have they done to the Cafe?"

In the afternoon I took my camera for a walk in the woods.  Action Dog kept trying to tell me it should be her being taken for a walk and not the camera but I had to harden my heart for once.  I had only been walking two minutes when a fox came strolling onto the path.  He was the first fox I have seen since living here.  I know that obviously there must be foxes in the area but I think the Gamekeeper controls them because of the Pheasants.  He was a fine specimen, very unlike the mangy urban foxes I am used to seeing.  I was interested to see that he did what the other creatures have done when coming upon me by chance.  He stopped in his tracks and stared, not moving until I did then running away as fast as he could.  Next time it happens I really must try and stay totally still and see how long we can size each other up for.  The trouble is that the temptation to raise either camera or binoculars is just so strong, I always want to make more of the encounter and end up blowing it totally.

Mr Fox, as interested to see me as I was to see him

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Butterfly's new trick

I was hailed to the kitchen by Hubby this morning to see Butterfly the squirrel performing a new feat.  Not content with taking the top off my squirrelproof feeders and sticking his head down them he had now managed to climb inside the squirrelproof cage and had been having a good go at my new improved so-called squirrelproof feeder.  Upon spotting Hairy Hubby at the back door he panicked and could not find his way out.  When I got there he was zooming round and round inside the cage part in a right tizz.  It was quite amazing how he could bend his little body so tightly to get around the tube, if I had not been so cross with him I would have been impressed.  After a few laps of the feeder he managed to wriggle out of the bars and ran off into the wood.  I resisted the temptation to shout 'serves you right' after his bouncing little tail! 

I checked the damage and found that he had just about chewed right through one of the green plastic feeder opening things.  It's just as well I got it for £3.99 locally rather than the RSPB version at £22.  So it looks like we have solved the mystery, it wasn't The Rodent after all but that little devil Butterfly.  New tactics are required methinks!

Action Dog smiling her gappy smile at Butterfly's antics!

Friday, 18 June 2010

If you go down in The Woods today.....

It was magical in the wood yesterday.   I left Action Dog behind and I am sure I saw much more without her, sorry Action Dog!  I wanted to play with my new toy (camera) and knew I could not deal with her lead and the camera at once.  I have had my bins ripped away from my eyes by her chasing a squirrel on more than one occasion so was not going to risk it with my camera.

I started as I always do by looking down each row of the Blackcurrant field.  It is very rare I don't see a deer (Muntjac and Roe) or two in there.  This was no exception and I spotted a lovely Roe Deer (I think) settled in the long grass.  Because I view them from behind the trees and bushes they don't spook too easily so I am able to get a lovely view of them when I see them.

She knows I am there

The further I got into the wood the more I noticed the smells.  In some places it was like newly laundered washing.  I can't say I have ever noticed that before.  I suppose what I was smelling was fresh clean air but it was wonderful, I wish I could have bottled it.  In other places where the sun was shining there were very herby smells from the vegetation.  It really was the smell of Mother Nature's own pharmacy.  Gorgeous!

As I walked along the shortcut to the lake I heard a commotion above me, very close.  Two Sparrowhawks were either fighting or playing, I have never been able to work out which, but they were colliding in the air making a right racket.  They were very close and it was so sudden that I did not get the camera up fast enough to capture anything but two rumps flying off.  Never mind I was primarily to see not to record.  At least thats what I told myself as I started along the path again muttering to myself.

Within three paces I was met by a very surprised Hare.  There was a junction of paths and he was happily hopping along the one which was joining mine.  He was only about ten feet in front of me when he appeared.  I was shocked how huge he was.  The size of a small dog.  Twice the size at least of Action Dog!  We both froze and stared at each other for a long moment.  I don't know who was more surprised to see the other.  Then he turned and ran full pelt away from me, I managed to get the camera up and take a picture of his rear vanishing!

Does not show his size and is certainly not his best side!

On the way back home I spotted a darling little fawn hiding in the Blackcurrant field.  He looked so small and alone.  I didn't manage to get an even half decent photo of him incase I disturbed him, he seemed so vulnerable.

The Path Home

The garden is still quiet apaft from regular visits from the Jay and we now have one little female Pheasent who comes.  Just looking outside the window I see she has a bad limp today today and her right wing is trailing a bit so something must have had a go at her in the night.  It's a tough old world out there in The Wood.  Marilyn and her Arthur are still coming, she has even been seen swimming on the new pond, we feel very honoured.  Monty the mole has made a few night time calls.  He still limits himself to under the feeders so it really does not bother me at all but Hubby is getting very fed up with him.  I can really see a Jasper Carrott moment coming soon.  As for Butterfly, well I have bought another supadupa squirrelproof feeder so we will see how long that one lasts against supersquirrel!   Oh and on the subject of Hubby he has now confessed to accidentally driving his tractor lawnmower over my rhubarb plant.  There really is no hope is there?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


There has been a vandal at large in the garden.  One of my SQUIRREL PROOF feeders has been chomped to bits.  At first I blamed Butterfly the Squirrel.  Then I got to wondering how he got his head through the bars, he never has been able to before.  Was it a baby squirrel with a tiny head?  Had Butterfly just found a way of ramming his head through the bars?  Then I remembered the little rat my Grandaughter spotted at the weekend.  The one hubby shot at with his air rifle (Pa Bear is alive and well and living in Norfolk)  Could he be the culprit?  I have to say that although I am missing that particular feeder a lot I am loathe to go and shell out for another one just to have The Rodent gnaw at it.  Hmmm it's a dilemma...


Saturday, 12 June 2010

Friday, 11 June 2010

All behind with the news and musings

It has been impossible to get on here and write for the past few days which is really frustrating because I wanted to write some entries about my recent jaunts out.  So my blog will now forever be lacking my tale of trees full of fledglings at Hickling and stunning close views of Marsh Harrier and Treecreeper at Strumpshaw fen.  Or that they have Spotted Flycatcher nesting at the centre.  Not to mention the late afternoon walk that Action Dog and I had in the woods and saw a baby Muntjac.

Ah well, I will write about today instead.  Another of Action Dog and I's forays into the woods.  We walked out as far as the lake today and managed to find a short cut which misses out the last windy bit of path.  I am not sure how much shorter it was but it felt a lot shorter.  All along the way there were dozens of fledgling Great Tit.  Nothing else just them!  I am sure I read of heard somewhere that the adults like to feed the young on grubs which are only found on Sycamore trees.  If this is right, and I really must check up on it, then my wood is ideal for Great Tit chicks because it has tons of Sycamore in it.  I can be flash and say that now that the Tree Surgeon has given me my tree ID lesson! 

At the lake we (that is Action Dog and I) were watching young coot and dragon flies when I noticed a small brown bird whizzing over the lake out of the corner of my eye.  Upon closer inspection it was a Kingfisher, my first this year!  Some little brown bird!!  It just goes to show how mad their colouring is that they can appear brown when they are so dazzling.  No wonder they can look so inconspicuous in a tree.  I watched him zoom up and down for several laps of the lake before he finally shot into a bush and vanished.  Action Dog was not impressed and prefers squirrels.

When we got back to our garden I had a peep with bins down the side of the summerhouse to see how Sunny was getting along.  She was not on the eggs so I had a closer peep.  I was amazed to see that four of the eggs had hatched.  At least I assume they have hatched because the end is off them.  There was no sign of Sunny or chicks so I can only assume that the information I read was correct and the mother leads the chicks away very soon after birth.  I can also only assume that the eggs left behind were sterile.  I will check again later but it all seems a bit of an anticlimax.  The amazing thing is that earlier today she was sitting on the eggs with no sign or sounds of chicks.

The other hot news is that we now have a pond.  Not an massive 6000 gallon Koi pond like in the last house but a lovely modest little pond with no filtration which will hopefully attract frogs and newts not to mention somewhere for the birds to drink from.  Also not to mention somewhere for the Grandkids to fall into especially the accident prone little one.  It's not very deep so they will only get wet and muddy if they do fall in. 

I am sitting here looking out of my study window and can see a female Pheasant.  This is a great rarity lately.  I have seen Hoppy and Luke a couple of times in the last few weeks but no females.  I found out that the gamekeeper rounds them all up at laying time and puts them in the big pens I saw in the forest so that they can hatch their chicks safely.  I would love to know how she rounds them all up, it gives me visions of her charging all over the forest in her buggy with a lassoo.  I will be glad when she lets them all out although the Tree Surgeon's dad tells me I may be asked not to go into the wood for a while after that so that I don't disturb the birds.  Then what will I do???

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

I am sure they know.....

Birds will never cease to amaze me.  They are clever, adaptable and FRUSTRATING!  Take yesterday, it was a mouldy old day and I found my self at a loose end (and starting to come unravelled) so I decided to complete my 'Make your nature count' RSPB survey.  It's been sitting on my desk for weeks and I was actually looking forward to completing it because for once I would have some birds to report.  So I filled up the feeders, cut up some bread for the lawn and threw some of Esmerelda's corn about.  That will get them in I thought.  Wrong.  They chose that hour to all go and have a kip somewhere.  Or maybe there was a party up the road that no one told me about.  Whatever.  But in that hour I chose I barely had any birds compared to a normal day.  A few Great Tit, no Coal Tit or Blue Tit.  A couple of halfhearted Woodys and a sad looking Chaffinch.  I am sure they know when you want them to be there and all naff off somewhere else!  Even Sunny the Partridge was off the nest and somewhere else!

Of course this morning the lawn is covered in Woodys, the feeders are swinging with the acrobatics of the Tits and the Jay is storming around everywhere.  I am sure they are laughing at me.  Add to that the Blue Winged Teal at Cley which I had intended to go for has vanished into thin air and you can see why I call them frustrating!  I just know that the rotten thing will reappear like Mr Ben out of the changing room (showing my age here) this afternoon when it's too late for me to go.  They do it on purpose to wind the birders up I am sure of it!


While I have been writing this two Mallards came strolling into the garden.  The female is pure white.  Is it Arthur and Esmerelda with highlights.  Has she been gone all this time getting a makeover to look like Marilyn?  They are pretty tame, they came to seed at the window.  I decided not to risk opening the back door.  Ah, it's nice to have ducks in the garden again :o)

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Racking up the garden ticks!

An exciting few days tickswise in the garden.  The day before yesterday I had a surprise while on the phone in the garden.  A Little Egret flew over at treetop height.  Skimming the trees in fact.  I was so shocked I screamed 'Little Egret' down my daughters ear.  She was not amused but then again she is not a birder.  Although she is well used to her mother's regular insane outbursts.  Shortly after that I spotted our first Swallows.  Better late then never, I was starting to think they were never going to find their way over this patch.

Last night while having a bonfire of decapitated Conifers a Common Tern flew up the road.  Yes, we were having a bonfire in the front garden, this family never does anything in the right place.  It was actually quite nice sitting on a chair with a can of Fosters watching the bonfire burn and the world go by.  Even better when a Common Tern goes by!  We did get eaten alive with midges.  Those of us without insect repellant fared the worst.  I was wearing three types and holding citronella incence sticks so did not suffer to much, I have found one new bite so far.  Lord knows what anyone passing would have thought of me sitting with a can of Fosters in one hand and two incense sticks in the other while having a bonfire in the front garden!

I went off to Rush Hill Scrape again today.  It was a pretty grotty day and I was dodging the showers but at least it cut down the heat haze.  There wasn't very much there, hardly anything in fact.  The star birds were two fluffy Black Headed Gull chicks which were wandering around on the mud with their parents.  I have never seen BHG chicks before so was really interested to see them. 

Thursday, 3 June 2010

A Trump of a pink tick!

Yesterday was a great day.  I decided to go for the Trumpeter Finch at Cley.  Trumpeter Finch and I have history.  In 2008 I missed out going for the one at Blakeney because I did not know there was a boat service running.  This was the same day  I dipped a Tawny Pipit at Waxham so not a good day.  A week or so later I dipped a Trumpter Finch on the south coast and was gutted.  When I saw there was one at Cley I had to go.  The problem was that I had my in-laws coming for the day so all I could do was sit tight and hope and pray it would stay.  Luckily for me it did!

When I got up I had a text saying that both Y and A had been to see the bird (seperately) and seen it well.  So the pressure was on.  I had to see that bird.  The history of it alone was enough to make it in my top ten but the thought of a pink finch is very appealing in itself!  So my Betty (my Satnav) and I set off in the direction of Cley with every thing crossed.  Well her wires were in a tangle but I couldn't cross everything really or I would not have been able to drive.

We arrived at Cley which is about an hour from here and could see a nice group of people on the ridge so things looked good.  However after flogging all the way down the East Bank from the centre I was told the bird had flown down the coast, possibly to Salthouse.  I was not happy!  Luckily I walked along a bit and found some people watching it.  At last the big pink finch was mine!  Well happy!

In the evening I had itchy feet so went out for a walk in the woods at sundown.  It was much quieter than during the day.  Mostly I just seemed to be scaring Wood pigeon from their roost.  That was not nice and did not seem fair although why they were flying off when they were 30 feet above my head is beyond me!  Did they think I was going to sprout wings and fly up and get them?  Woodpigeon really are dopey birds, even worse than Pheasent and that is saying something.  They sit up there where you can't see them and then draw attention to themselves by flying off noisily.  Not the best plan.

I had a nice close encounter with a Muntjac.  She strayed onto the path I was on and did not see me there until after I had raised my bins.  I have noticed that if you have your bins raised they don't seem as scared of you.  Maybe its because they can't see your eyes, or don't recognise you as human because your face looks wierd.  Anyway this little one looked up and saw me and seemed very interested in me.  She kept taking tentative steps towards me while watching me intensely.  I could barely breathe with the tension of it!  Eventually she must have caught a whiff of me and disappeared into the wood.  It never ceases to amaze me how deer can just vapourise into the wood.  One minute they are there and the next gone without a trace.  It's a bit ghostly really.

Anyway I don't think I will be walking in the wood at that time of day again.  Although it was very pleasant it did not seem fair to disturb the birds at roost and I felt guilty for doing it.  I was almost glad to get home.

There is no other garden news really.  Sunny is still on her eggs, hoppy is barely limping anymore, no sign of any female pheasent and Esmerelda has not been seen for weeks.  Still lots of Great Tit and Coal tit, Jay and Jackdaw.  No sign of Monty, he is probably still nursing his headache.  Butterfly is still a menace (all three of him) but I still smile when I see him.  Until I see he has had the lids off all my squirrel proof feeders that is!