Friday – 8th July: I have been busy lately keeping tabs on the foxes, badgers, muntjacs, buzzards and a few other creatures who live on the marsh. I don’t do this because the animals need me to keep tabs on them: no, I’m just nosey! It is difficult, in some cases, to poke my nose any distance into their lives, as the dense undergrowth is providing the animals with an increasingly effective invisibility cloak.
Last year I produced a series of photographs of a buzzard chick nesting in Hoo Wood. The project started on24th May, when the chick was a ball of fluffy feathers, and lasted until its first flight on 5th July. I had intended initiating a similar project this year, for this blog, but, for the first time in three or four years, there aren’t any buzzards nesting in Hoo Wood. I think a couple of tawny owls beat the buzzard to the best tree in the wood this year.
The previous Hoo Wood buzzards are now nesting on the marsh. I know of two nests on the middle marsh, but neither has a decent vantage point allowing a view into the nests, as was the case with the Hoo Wood site last year, and the parent’s kick up a terrible fuss when I approach their homes. I would rather not cause unnecessary distress by hanging around the area too long with my camera, so I have not bothered with a buzzard photography project this year. I didn’t have a problem with the parent birds last year in Hoo Wood; they only came back to the nest to feed the chick.
The foxes have not been difficult to track, even though they have not been easy to see lately. However, thanks to a camera trap and their well-defined runs, I have been able to see how they are getting on and figure out how far they are ranging. I also have a reasonable idea of their daily routines, and I’ve seen many of their kill leftovers.
The badger sett population has increased by around a dozen cubs this year, as far as I can tell. There is an old one-eyed badger, with a limp – war wounds, I expect – that I have seen hunting around a mile from his sett.
The muntjacs have been more or less invisible in the dense undergrowth. I did see one a week ago, and I have seen quite a few of their beds in the long grass.
The North Pond is now so choked with weed that I am not able see anything interesting happening below the water surface. I have been expecting a surfeit of frogs and toads, but I have only seen one frog over the last month, and that was a long way from the pond. There is a heron that spends a fair bit of time wading amongst the weeds, perhaps it is also eating the frogs and toads, and I know that the mink is still active in the pond.
I haven’t seen a mallard on the pond for around six weeks. I have noticed a moorhen hiding in the reeds quite a few times, and I have seen its swimming tracks through the weeds.