The day after Bonfire Night.

(Click on image to enlarge)

6th November 2011:  It has been warm and sunny on the marsh today. The air was full of gnats. A small number of other flying insects were busy drawing out the last of the nectar from the few remaining blooms.

A big old tawny owl fell out of a tree in front of me, as I walked into the wood alongside Hoo Brook this morning. At least, I think it fell. I just happened to be looking up into the trees when I noticed something keel over on a branch. It fell two or three feet, head first, before it opened its wings. It  swooped down to around six feet from the wood floor, silently flapped its wings and flew steeply up through the trees and away. This is the first time I had witnessed an owl do this. I have seen owls swoop from branches before, but they have always launched themselves properly.

Whilst on the subject of owls: I have various animal calls recorded on my mobile phone: bird calls, wounded rabbit, munjack barking – things like this. I was sitting in the dark, in a bush, in a secluded part of the Hoo Wood yesterday evening, just listening to the sound of the night wildlife. I heard a male tawny owl call in the distance. I played my recorded “to wit”” call of a female tawny, and within minutes I had three male tawnies replying “to wit to woo” from trees very close to the bush I was sitting in. Dr. Doolittle, or what?

First thing this morning, I walked along the twin water pipe-line that skirts the swamp. There had been a serious amount of badger digging in the soil between the pipes last night. The soil is drier between the pipes than it is on either side. I rarely see evidence of badger digging at this location, so I have to ask myself why this should have occurred during last night. As I mentioned in my previous post, the water level on the marsh has risen substantially during the past week. I have a feeling that the badgers are now finding it difficult to locate sufficient worms on the marsh. I wouldn’t mind betting that they will increase their feeding activity in the drier and higher Hoo Wood, as a direct result of the increasing water level on the marsh.

Not far away from the pipes, a rotten tree stump had been torn apart. This is likely to be the work of a badger, too: searching for grubs I expect. A badger won’t mess about if it senses food. In a feeding frenzy, it will use its large powerful claws to wrench a rotting tree asunder.

I find it interesting latching onto the marsh animal behavioural changes, and then working out why the changes have occurred.

Further along the pipes the squirrels were up early gathering their nuts and burying them at the base of hawthorn trees and bushes alongside the pipes. They are eating a lot of berries, which turn their droppings into something reminiscent of little pink and crimson coloured fudgy sweets.

On a north pasture gate post this morning, something had left what looked like a pile of blood and guts full of red berries. Could this have been left there by a buzzard? Was this all that was left of a squirrel, or some other small animal that had feasted on berries? Was it buzzard vomit? I don’t know! I am not good at identifying gizzards.

Below are some of the things I photographed today:

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11 Comments on “The day after Bonfire Night.

    • Thank you, Victoria.

      I am too lazy to carry atripod. I shot this Graphomya sp hand held.

      To be honest, I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to to get fly images at this time of year.

  1. Interesting post Mike. I particularly like the photographs of the flies. I am surprised that John has not been ebquiring about your wellie boots. Are they any good?

    How do you get close enough to the flies to get such a good shot?

    That blood and guts image is a bit nasty. I would like to know how it came to be on the gate post. The thing is, will we ever know?

    • Thanks, Dave.

      I have been wearing the wellie boots every day for a week, and they are surprisingly comfortable. They are certainly as comfortable as any pair of boots I have owned – I can’t really fault them. All that remains is to see how long they last.

      There isn’t any secret to photographing flies. You just have to get in close, focus and press the shutter button before they fly away..

      I don’t know what animal is responsible the leaving what looked like stomach contents to me.

  2. That picture with the seeds in it looks like scat from maybe a raccoon that has been eating persimmons. I’m reading your blog for the first time and haven’t figured out where in the world you are. But I’ve seen thousands of scat while hiking in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas that looked like that. And many different animals gorge on the persimmons this time of year.

    I’ve added you to my reading list. I volunteer all over the country at National Wildlife Refuges and you will definitely be a learning resource.

    • Thanks very much for your comment, Marilyn.

      We don’t have raccoons in the midlands of England, or in any other part of England – at least not as far as I am aware. I suppose the nearest roughly equivalent sized animal to a raccoon we have in the UK, would be the badger, which wouldn’t be capable of sitting atop a seven bar gate post to relieve itself. The Hawthorn berry filled mess looked more like vomit that a form of scat. However, you are the first to offer a perfectly respectable and sensible answer.

      I have had a look at your blog, and you certainly seem to be leading an interesting and exciting lifestyle. I hope you enjoy my future posts. I will be following your blog with interest.

  3. I have had computer problems. I now have a new motheboard in my computer, whatever that is. This is the first time I have used my computer since it died. The man in the shop tried his hardest to persuade me to buy a new computer. He said I was missing out on a lot of new technology. This computer might be a bit slow, but I don’t have a problem waiting for it. It is suitable for my needs I feel.

    Are the wellie boots still working out?

    • I’m really glad that you are back on-line, John. I was wondering if you might have had a mishap with, or in, you pond.

      I have been wearing the wellie boots every day since they were delivered to me. They do the job: they are comfortable, they keep the marsh water out, they have excellent grip and they are quiet. What more could a person expect from a cheap pair of wellie boots. It’s just a matter of how long they last.

    • Don’t rush out to but a pair of the same wellie boots that I bought, John, I just spent five hours on the marsh and my feet are wet. I think the stitching securing the waterproof uppers to the rubber boot is wicking the water to the inside of the boot. It’s back to wearing proper wellies again, I suppose.

  4. Typical!

    Could condensation be responsible for your wet feet mike?

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