An ‘Otterly’ great week at Yew View

I can hardly believe it is September…. summer was definitely still hanging on at Yew View with warm and sunny conditions, although trees laden with fruit suggest that Autumn is simply waiting for an opportunity to take hold and turn this rich and green haven into an Autumnal delight of golds and browns.

One of the jobs I always do at the end of the summer, is to clean out all the nest boxes. Old nests and unhatched eggs or dead fledglings are a breeding ground for all sorts of bugs and I like to ensure that the nest space is as clean as possible for the next season. I simply remove the old nests and thoroughly brush out the contents (and hundreds of earwigs!) that had made these nests their home. I also keep a record of which nests have been used and (if possible) which species have used them.

This year, at Yew View, just about all the tit boxes have been occupied.  A number had chicks that hadn’t made it. One even had a dead adult and broken eggs…. I wonder what drama was acted out within that nest box at some point in the season…

Each nest is beautifully constructed… a testament to thousands of trips with beaks full of moss, hay, grass… and even human hair!! Someone nearby must have had a trim when this blue tit was making her nest, as it had a wig load of hair in it!

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This week has proven to be a popular one for the otters, with 11 visits in the last 8 days. These visits had been for sprainting and there appears to be two individuals; our large male and another, smaller otter. Both are regularly visiting the holt site and sprainting outside the entrance. In most cases, the visits are brief…. just long enough to leave a ‘calling card’! The best thing has been that some of these visits have been in the daytime…. mostly early morning or early evening, but some during the day. I am left wondering whether this smaller otter is a female. In the early clips, it appeared to be limping.

Young otter spraint 31st Aug 21.14_00000 Young otter spraint 31st Aug 07.29_00001 Otter close-up 30th Aug 07.19_00003 Otter close-up 30th Aug 07.19_00002 Limping otter 28th Aug 19.11_00000 Limping otter 27th Aug 16.38_00002 Limping otter 27th Aug 16.38_00001 Limping otter 27th Aug 16.38_00000

It is fantastic to see such regular visits and to be able to capture this on film. This has to be one of my favourite cameras at Yew View! This week, even the resident kingfisher popped in for a spot of hunting…

Another visitor has been making a regular appearance in different parts of the garden…. a young fox with a distinctive kink in his tail. ‘Kink’ was first noticed inside the chamber of the badger sett, taking a brief look around…

Making a note of the date and time, I played back the camera from the outside of the sett and was treated to this lovely clip!

Young fox out of sett 30th Aug 14.27_00003 Young fox out of sett 30th Aug 14.27_00002

Kink also appeared at the otter holt…

and at the other badger sett early one morning, just as the camera was switching back into daylight mode…

This young fox also had a bit of a run-in with one of the resident badgers at the feeding station… a few lessons to be learnt about who is boss when there is food around, I think!

The badger trio are pretty active at the original sett, but have not been in the camera sett this last week. There is a lot of mutual grooming, which builds bonds between individuals as well as helping to maintain good condition.

I am hoping that, as the weather gets colder, the badgers will further investigate the new camera sett and the copious amounts of hay outside will encourage them to choose this sett as their winter residence… I do hope so! In the meantime, we are always sure of footage from the original sett and at the feeding station.

I am now dreaming of an otter holt with an internal camera….. off to the drawing board!!!!