Yew View May Update… otter, kingfisher, harvest mice & daylight badgers…

With lots of great footage from Yew View, it is taking me longer to process and edit it all. This week’s update includes highlights from this week’s and last week’s footage. I am sure I am missing some special moments or encounters … but with 30 cameras, it can take me 3-4 hours to look through all the week’s footage and I am often outside rather than in on the computer! I have to try and strike a balance and focus on cameras that I feel are giving the most interesting and exciting footage on site.

The otters have to be the footage I most look forward to each week. The wired camera at the holt site is going a true picture of the visits of our family and we are beginning to build up a picture of their movements. The female and her cubs seem to visit once a week or so, with the male staying over in the holt at least once a week, sometimes twice. Usually they enter and exit to the right of the holt, despite there being a large expanse of water to the left of the entrance. The left hand side is more open, yet the right hand side is full of willow, allowing a more secluded entrance and exit.

Last week, I captured a lovely exit of the male into the main body of water. Great to see him slide silently into the water, to rise briefly before disappearing…. super!

On the 10th May, we also saw the female appear, spraint, but not stay over…

This week, the female returned again and there seems to be a reunion of some kind. The way the individual reacts when the second two appear, suggests the cubs may now be spending time away from the female…

As you can imagine, much of the footage is very similar, particularly with the male who comes into the holt… and then leaves after some 13-14 hours sleep! This week, I captured something a little different; he appears with his eel supper…

On this camera angle, the eel is just off camera. Luckily the Bushnell caught the same scene from a different angle…

He did not seem particularly interested in eating this catch and it made an escape in the willow roots!

The kingfishers are visiting regularly with appearances from males and females… at least two of each.  We are getting some gorgeous footage of them hunting very successfully from this wildlife pond. With sunshine on their iridescent plumage, I am captivated every week with their beauty. Looking after this plumage is essential and they do a lot of preening… (Watch in HD for full effect!)

 

Their main food seems to be small fish, probably sticklebacks, which are expertly dispatched by hitting them on the post. They then cleverly turn them round so they are able to swallow them head first. This week, however, I noticed something different; this female tuned the fish  so it was facing outwards. This suggests she is feeding young. She disappeared with the prey, hopefully to a nest of hungry chicks somewhere!

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These bird have the ability to completely change their shape. Often, they fluff themselves up, creating the classic kingfisher shape..

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When interacting or showing aggression, they can transform into an aquamarine dart!

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This stance was in response to another kingfisher in the area..

More often, they spend time hunting, preening and generally chilling in the sunshine, offering a most privileged window into their daily lives…

There is an increasing amount of badger activity. They are using the original sett and visiting the new camera sett, but only to pop in and go out again. Last week, however, we had a fox visit one of the chambers for the first time…

There seem to be a couple of youngsters around now as well. This footage shows, what looks like, one of this year’s cubs… pretty large now, but very ‘clean’ looking and generally more pale grey than the adults. With the daylight hours increasing, we are just getting daylight footage! This individual was very inquisitive!

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There was also a bit of bedding collection happening as well..

Finally, we have been having a battle with increasing rat numbers and them dominating out harvest mouse platform, despite my best efforts to discourage them. Last week, after purchasing some 2.5cm metal grid sheets, I created a cage in which to house the camera and the feeding platform.

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It seems to be working and the harvest mice have started to visit again, protecting from their larger rodent cousins and feeling safe within their feeding cage. I hope to film more of them again over the coming weeks…

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The site is looking stunning and, despite very much looking forward to a quick trip to Ireland next week for a spot of wildlife watching, I am going to miss my weekly visit to Yew View…. and I had better leave a considerable amount of time, on my return, to look through 2 weeks worth of footage!