Snowy Wildlife and Tawny Excitement!

A combination of a trip to Scotland and such snowy conditions, I had not caught up with the cams at Yew Vire for about 3 weeks. That is a lot of footage to look through! Luckily, I have the iCatcher app on my phone, so I can access the cameras, but it is obviously not as good as actually looking through the footage on the PC.

With so much snow over the last week, I was keen to see how the badgers were faring and how much activity there had been. It was easy to see if they had been out by skimming through the clips, looking for changes in footprints outside. These individuals had been in and out, visiting our feeding station, although they did not look overly keen on the  snow layer outside the sett!!

Looking through the footage, something interesting caught my eye. Badgers are omnivores….. in fact, they will eat all sorts of food! Much of their diet is earthworms, and other invertebrates found in the ground and rotting wood, which they can rip apart with strong claws. They will also feed on bee and wasp larvae (often digging up underground nests), fruits, fungi, cereals, nuts, seeds and berries.Interestingly, they also enjoy a more meaty diet, given the chance. This can include birds, young rabbits, rodents like squirrels and rats, reptiles and amphibians. If they come across carrion, they will often take full advantage. This badger appears to have, what is left of, a rabbit… possibly caught by one of the foxes. It certainly seems a welcome meal in this cold snap!

We now have two barn owl boxes at Yew View. Both are at the river end of the garden as we know the barn owls hunt along the flood meadow on the opposite side of the river, as well as on our side. We have one Barn Owl Centre -Eco-Box’ made out of recycled plastic, that is mounted on a platform. In the very cold snowy weather, when we had bitterly cold winds, one of our tawnies chose to roost in here during the day. I love this clip of it hunkered down, protected from the snow!

A month or so ago, reinstalled another rather grand Barn Owl Box, made by Tom Firmstone. The other tawny of our resident pair chose this spot to roost over the coldest days. We have a camera inside this one as well….

Just as the light was fading, it popped out onto the decking around the box, before heading off to hunt!

Possibly the most exciting news is that this pair of tawnies have chosen, once again, to nest in our tawny box, which is actually closer to the house in the centre of the garden. They nested here last year and successfully raised 2 owlets! I had hoped they wold return, so, as well as the camera inside the box, I installed one on the outside as well, so we could film them coming and going and using the perch on the box.

Over the last week, the female has laid 3 eggs (we had 2 last year) and she is now incubating these which will be due to hatch at the beginning of April. These are a selection of clips showing the female on the eggs and the male coming into feed her. He is going to be very busy as he has to maintain himself and the female for the next month, then the pair of them will hunt to feed their young. Luckily, we have a very healthy population of rodents at Yew View!

The female will only rarely leave the nest box now, once incubating. As soon as it gets dark, she nips out for a short ‘comfort’ break. A few evenings, she left the box just before it was dark. The lights you can see are the badger feeding station.

It is a very exciting time of the year. We had some cracking footage last year and I really hope we can repeat that this season. I have plans to upgrade the camera system inside the box next year to give us better inside images. We are hoping, next year, to also have a good enough Internet connection to live stream this camera!