Squirrel visitors in the Tawny Box and Otters in the pond!

We are now half way through incubation in the Yew View Tawny nest box and it has been a challenging week for my pair… in more ways than one! Firstly, the weather has been pretty awful. High winds and heavy rain make it very difficult for owls to hunt and my female tawny must have felt pretty hungry mid-week, with very little food being brought in by the male.

Earlier in the week, he was catching mice and voles; both good feeds for the female. As the box is deeper than last year, he is often coming into the box to deliver the food. The female is reluctant to move away from her eggs, so sits tight, meaning her can’t reach her from the entrance…..

The second challenge this week was from an intruder; a young squirrel.

Looking at the footage from the outside camera, I think it was the hunting buzzard that initially sent this young squirrel into the nest box. I have recorded brief visits like this before, but this one was very different.  This squirrel stayed in the box for an astounding TEN minutes! Hanging to the side, like spiderman, it moved around inside the box. I was surprised the female didn’t just attack it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that her choice to stay sitting tight, was a sensible one. This squirrel offered no threat to her. If she got off of the eggs and a fight occurred, there would have been a very strong chance that her eggs risked getting broken.  She stayed sitting tight, clicking and hissing at the squirrel initially, but then just watched, as it scrambled around above her!

Finally, the squirrel became a little too bold. It scrambled down and started investigating the dome of one of the cameras and then reached out to sniff her. This was a step too far!  The tawny lunged at the squirrel, sending it fleeing from the box finally.

To be able to witness and film such an encounter is pretty amazing. The next two clips show this final moment, filmed from the two cameras inside the nest box.

This box is really producing some of the best footage I have ever filmed and you can imagine the huge volume that I look through to ensure I don’t miss moments like this! All of this, before the eggs even hatch! I just can’t wait for the end of March, when we should get the first glimpses of the new arrivals!

On a different note, the badgers have been pretty quiet in the sett at the moment. There were a few visits this week to rearrange the feeding, but no overnight stays…

The buzzard is very active on site and I see it regularly, sitting on its favourite perch. Once again, it spent some time on the kingfisher perch during the week. It is formidable looking raptor!

I have been using the Bushnells to monitor a couple of other areas of the garden. One such area is a 50m culvert that runs along the side of the garden, taking the run off from the Malvern Hills, down to the river. I could see that it was being used, as a clear track ran to the side.

During the week, I got a text to say that something was taking fish from the ornamental pond up by the house. Parts of fish and lots of scales were found on the side of the pond. I told Pete, one of the gardeners, to move this camera up onto the pond, to see if we could capture the culprit. I had my suspicions , but the Bushnell would, hopefully, confirm who was to blame. As you may have noticed on the video clip above… the last visitor was not a badger…..

Pete had done a great job at setting the Bushnell and its footage showed clearly that this was indeed an otter and this individual was travelling up the culvert and then up past the house, to the pond. This pond is about 1/2km from the Severn and is very close to the house and dogs. With a lot of fish, including large Koi, this otter couldn’t believe its luck!

The evidence was all around, so I have set two Bushnells this week, as I am pretty sure it will continue to visit until it has cleared the pond of its inhabitants!

It will be interesting to see what we capture next week, when I check out the SD cards!