Baby Squirrels, Leucistic Pheasants and the return of the Swallows!

Everything is bursting into life at Yew View and it is almost a full-time job to attempt to get through a week’s worth of footage every week as there is so much happening!

Firstly, the biggest sign that summer is on its way is the arrival of a pair of Swallows! Every year, they nest in the outdoor stables and last year we filmed at a selection of nest sites. There are a number of artificial swallow cups up and these birds seem to move around them. One pair had three different broods last year!

On two of the nest cups, I have a standard nest cup. When we are clear where they are going to nest, we often set up an HD cam on the nest. This footage shows the pair who started collecting nesting material straight away… no time to waste!

We have also had activity in out Tawny Box. Once again, the tawnies showed a lot of early interest, but then chose not to nest. Pretty quickly, the squirrels moved in and filled the box with leaves. Apart from moving leaves, we have not really seen much…. until this week. Whilst I was whizzing through the footage, I saw a tiny face appear! We had a baby squirrel! I can’t believe we have not seen this little guy before… he must be a month or so old I would think. I captured some rather sweet clips of this single baby.

Then, after trying to encourage him out of the box, the female took matters into her own paws and carried him out herself!

The Kingfishers are still hunting regularly but no newts this week.

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We did get a stunning Jackdaw with a larva of some kind…

The only other visitor… this wood pigeon.. rather handsome I think!

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Every now and then, we capture something unusual on the cameras. This clip shows a leucistic pheasant. Leucism is an abnormal plumage condition caused by a genetic mutation that prevents pigment, particularly melanin, from being properly deposited on a bird’s feathers. As a result, the birds can have white patches where the bird should not have any or paler plumage. They are not albino as that is when they are completely white and have a pink eye.

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The badgers are still in and out…. sometimes extremely wet and muddy!

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Lots of the blossom is appearing now and the Fritillaries are out…

There is a surprising number of  flowing plants already in the garden and, of course, the insects are taking advantage. Lots of bumble bees around (this one a buff-tailed I think!)

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……and also this new species to me. Thanks to my dad on Twitter, we have this bee identified as a Mourning Bee ( Melecta albifrons). It is a cuckoo Bee that attacks the Hairy-footed flower bee by laying an egg inside the nest chamber. Its egg then hatches and destroys the Hairy-footed flower bee’s larvae and eats all the food left for it.

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I am also excited that, next week, we will be laying a big new area of wildflower turf from http://www.wildflowerturf.co.uk. This will greatly increase the amount of nectar sources available for insects! The area has been cleared, ready for laying.

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Such a lovely time of the year… even if we were subjected to some impressive thunderstorm this week, as well as this spectacular rainbow, just as I left in the evening!

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