Christmas Wildlife at Home catch-up!

It has been lovely to have a bit of time at home with my family and to add some lovely wildlife themed gifts to my growing collection!

The pets got into the swing of Christmas and gave us some giggles… they are very sweet-natured and were happy to pose for a Christmas treat!

It is not surprising that many of the gifts I receive at Christmas are either wildlife themed or have a strongly practical theme!! My children refused to buy me anything from the ScrewFix wish-list I had created! I did, however receive some lovely screw sets, washers, screw bits, torch set, and the like, from other people…. I do so love a practical gift and people know that I will use things like this on all of my projects! My son, Cam, came up trumps with  lovely bird model to add to my collection and the beautiful book, ‘Lost Words’. If you have not seen this book yet, then I would thoroughly recommend it! Written by Robert McFarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris, it explores some of the wildlife words that could soon disappear from our children’s vocabularies if we do not ensure they are connected to the natural world. It is stunning!

My daughter Charlotte also got me a wonderful gift, amongst many, this year; a bespoke piece of her artwork, framed. I love the sea and Oystercatchers are one of my favourite birds. She created this ‘one-off’ and had it framed for me and I love it. I have already commissioned a partner for it… ringed plovers, and she has almost finished it. It is in pride of place in my lounge!

We were hoping for crisp, frosty days to get out and about, but the break here has been rather grey. We missed out on the latest batch of snow, but still enjoyed some walks on Cannock Chase and the surrounding area, burning off some of those mince pies!

After what has been a very busy lead up to Christmas, I finally sat down to have a look through some of the footage of my garden wildlife cameras from the last few weeks. I had not lifted much footage from the cameras over the snowy period, apart from the snack bar footage that went crazy in the press. I checked the fox footage over that period and found some lovely clips of them feeding in the heavy snow.

They have been visiting regularly and, if you watch the live camera, you should see them visiting from early evening, on and off. I think there are at least 3 individuals coming to this field next to my garden. This is a vixen, who was eating, when the male arrived. Watch her submissive pose and listen to her vocalisation! She moved right under the camera and you can see her breath in the cold air as she waits for the male to move on before resuming her feeding.

They are not disturbed by the camera at all. In fact, some of these individuals are probably the cubs I have filmed here. This one came right up to the camera, giving me some great close-ups!

I have also been trying to get them to visit the far end of my garden , so I can try some DSLR camera trapping with them. I had a camera on a CJWildlife Peanut butter jar that had proved popular with lots of birds. One night, the fox came right up to the camera and stole the whole jar!

The bird snack bar, after its press coverage, has proven very popular! I decorated it for Christmas and got some lovely shots of the visitors….

The other feeder set ups have attracted some good numbers of species too. Lots of goldfinch and greenfinch visiting at the moment and 3 bullfinch as well; one female and 2 males.

These images are all from my live cameras, which can be viewed via the CJWildlife website and via my website. I have had so may lovely comments via Twitter, my blog and via email about how much people are enjoying my cameras this year. I have had several emails from elderly people who are now either house-bound or in care homes. Their situation often means they can no longer maintain bird feeders or they have no facilities to have them. Watching mine can provide interest and a talking point. It is always so lovely to hear from people who watch and do let me know if you see anything interesting! If you make a note of the time, I am able to go back and look through the footage that is recording 24-7.

The woodpeckers are also regular visitors. This is the male Great Spotted Woodpecker. he has a red nape and the female lacks this colouration in the head, so they are easy to tell apart!

One of my most favourite garden visitors are the Long-tailed tits. There is a flock of about 8 flitting about on most days and they love the fat-based products…

I have set up another feeding station, in view of my PTZ camera, today and it will be popular with these lovely little birds. It has three peanut butter feeders and a fat-bar as well. I have also put up a new squirrel feeder… let’s see if it keeps my squirrels off my main bird feeders!!

There are now three feeding stations that I can monitor from this PTZ camera. PTZ stand for ‘pan-tilt-zoom’. I can control this camera from my PC and my phone, although control is a little crude on the phone. I can set ‘pre-set’ positions on my PC, so I simply click on the pre-set and the camera will move straight to that position. You may be watching the cameras and see the cameras move around or zoom in on specific species. If I am working in my office, I have all my cameras up on a number of monitors, so I can watch them all! It is an incredible piece of kit and all the feeder videos, above, have been filmed using this.

As the year comes to an end, my mind is actually bursting with all the new projects in the pipeline…. it is going to be a busy year…. so watch this space!