With the moon out.

With our continued hot dry spell we decided to make an early start on Sunday morning to collect our trail camera footage. On the way, with the sun just up we spotted a good number of different mammals.

Rabbits.

Roebuck. This deer is the regularly spotted buck in our local fields and woodland.

A Shrew. This tiny mammal crossed our path, while we crossed the field. I think this is a Common Shrew.

Common shrews are tricoloured: brown on the back, pale brown at the sides and whitish underneath. They have dense velvety fur, with a long pointed nose, tiny eyes, small ears and red teeth. Their lifespan is short they rarely live longer than a year.

Size: 48-80mm, tail 24-44mm; tail less than 3/4 length of head and body.

Weight: 5-14g.

A bit shaky but a short film of this tiny mammal.

We spotted a fox on several occasions during our walk but he kept his distance.

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Dry spell.

Water remains short in our local patch due to the drought grass is brown and many of the water holes and ditches have dried up boggy areas are much dryer than this time last year. One advantage appears to be the lack of Ticks as I have only had one or two on me this year whereas last year I was getting those numbers per day!

The lack of water for the wildlife got us thinking about using water as a way to attract animals to our trail cameras. Last week we sunk a washing-up bowl in a local ditch where we had placed cameras in the past and filled it with water. In 2021 our trail cameras at this spot had filmed a Buzzard bathing in the ditch. It worked – see footage below it starts with 2021 Buzzards bath and moves on to last weeks recording at the same spot with a dry ditch.

Moorland wanders.

A Moorland walk in the New Forest this morning.

Common cotton grass has fluffy, white seed heads that dot boggy moorlands and heaths its bright heads show up across the landscape which looks like something has been dropped until you get close enough to see it is a seedhead. Despite its name, common cotton grass is a member of the sedge family, rather than being a true grass.

In the winter we came across a small pond on the moor and decided to return in the summer as it

looked like a good site for Dragonflies, we returned today and it was.

Female Broad-bodied Chaser.

Male Broad-bodied Chaser.

Male Emperor Dragonfly.

Female Emperor Dragonfly. Egg-laying.

A Male Stonechat keeping its distance from the pond.

Foxgloves are now in full flower.

Fallow Deer are never far away on a New Forest walk.

Roe Deer family.

Since the first lock-down, we have been watching the local deer population in a small pocket of woodland bordering the edge of the built-up area close to home. There is a healthy population of Roe deer with two dominant, Roebucks who have their own group of Does. Kids are usually born in May or June.

Using a long lens and camouflage we have over the last 3 years recorded the life cycle of these animals. We also started using trail cameras.

Last week we set up cameras in a spot where we regularly see deer and also find evidence that they have cleared a sitting patch. This post shows some of the footage from these trail captures. {only a small percentage of what was captured} I have also posted some stills taken from the films. It shows the interactions of the family group which I think is a privilege to see. It was a surprise to see that 2 of the Does had given birth {one with a single kid and the other with twins} fairly early in the season. {end of April}

Small wonders.

Last week I set up one of my trail cameras with a close-up filter and placed it in our local woods in a hollow tree and added some birdseed. I was pleased with the results the film below shows mice and at the end a rat.

Also spotted a regular Roebuck looking a bit shabby with his winter coat.

If you go deep into the woods.

If you go down to the woods today what can you see?

A full day in the New Forest collecting our trail cameras from one of the active Badger Setts we have been monitoring. Some good footage of both Badgers and Fallow Deer.

Film 1 Badgers. (trail camera)

Following the Norman Conquest, King William I, designated the land as a royal hunting forest, reserved for the private use of the King and invited aristocracy. In the process over 20 small hamlets and farms were removed. It was the only forest described in detail in the ancient Domesday Book. Two of William the Conqueror’s sons were killed in hunting accidents in the New Forest. Today Deer roam free in many areas of the New Forest.

We came across several small herds of Fallow Deer, all young deer and hinds. The only shooting today was with cameras.

Film 2 Fallow Deer (trail camera).

Very windy weather on our walk but this male Chaffinch was holding on and singing his heart out – not easy filming with the tree moving so much in the wind.

Film 3 Chaffinch ( sound on to enjoy fully his singing).

A walk on the wildside.

A morning walk in the New Forest with a cold start but soon the sun came up making it a nice Spring Morning walk.

Several small herds of young Fallow Deer spotted us about the same time as we spotted them so a bit of looking at each other before both parties went their own way.

It was nice to see Fallow Deer today so close to seeing a herd of Red Deer last week – what stands out between the 2 species excluding the size is the white and black buts of the Fallow Deer.

Some bird watching along the way and at a hollow tree at the end of the walk with a bit of birdseed to encourage some of the smaller birds closer to the camera.

A Song Thrush. One of this bird’s favourite meals are snails – which they break into by smashing them against a stone with a flick of the head. This one was feeding in the forest under fallen leaves looking for worms and insects.

A Nuthatch is an interesting small bird as they will climb down trees and well as up while looking for a meal. They hold on to a tree from all angles.

A male Chaffinch.

The wren is a tiny brown bird, it has a short, narrow tail that is sometimes cocked up vertically.  For such a small bird it has a remarkably loud voice.

Exmoor Red Deer.

Camper van trip to Exmoor. {Pt1}

Returning to our campsite and as the light was starting to drop we spotted a herd of Red Deer young Stags (males) and Hinds (females). From the lane, they were interested in us as much as we were in them after a good look at each other they moved off back into the woodland.

Red Deer are the UK’s largest deer. Males have large, branching antlers, increasing in size as they get older. The Stags spotted are young animals given he had fairly small non-branching antlers. Red Deer live on moorland and mountainsides, as well as grasslands near to woodland. They are common in Scotland, particularly the Highlands and Islands. Red Deer are also found in the Lake District, Exmoor, as well as the New Forest.

A host, of golden daffodils.

A short local walk to collect our trail cameras some nice views of a Muntjac deer on one of the cameras. Introduced from China to the UK in the 20th century. Although an invasive, non-native species today they are protected in the UK under the Deer Act 1991.

Some facts about this small deer which is about the size of a medium-sized dog.

Length: 77-91cm
Shoulder height: 45-52cm
Weight: 10-17kg
Average lifespan: 10-13 years

Wild Daffodils are now out in flower which gives a splash of colour to this dull time of year, I am glad we are moving into spring. Also known as the ‘Lent lily’ or ‘Easter lily’ this native Daffodil is smaller than many garden varieties. They are found in damp woods, fields, grassland and orchards. It is a rare plant but can be abundant in some areas. 

Eyeworth Pond.

A circular walk today in the New Forest starting and ending at Eyeworth pond.

History.

The pond was created by the Schultze Gunpowder Company as a reservoir to hold the water needed during the manufacturing process – it is estimated it held 6 million gallons of water. Work started on the factory in 1860. By the late 1890s the Company employed upwards of 100 people and there were some 60 buildings. The factory continued in operation under new ownership until 1921. The manufacturing of explosives deep in the forest away from the local population reduced the risk to the public. Today the reservoir remains although the factory has gone, it remains as a feature and wildlife habitat. Little other evidence of the factory survives, although the superintendent’s and gatekeeper’s houses remain and are private residences.

Birds. on the pond.

2 female Goosanders were on the far side of the pond ( I have seen males here as well in the past but not today). Goosanders are diving duck, they have long, serrated bills, used for catching fish. They 1st bred in the UK in 1871. ( These ducks are known as Common Merganser in the USA).

Mandarin ducks have for many years been a regular bird on Eyeworth pond. They always draw a crowd, they were introduced to the UK from China in the 20th century and have become established following escapes from captive collections. In the UK there are now said to be about 2,300 pairs and according to Wikipedia the population in China is only 1000 pairs.

Moorhen.

Woodland Birds. around the pond.

A woodland favourite is the Blue Tit.

Marsh Tit.

Great Tit.

Robin.

Dunnock

Dunnocks are also known as the ‘hedge sparrow’, although they are not actually a sparrow. They’re actually the only UK member of a bird family called the accentors. The dunnock is also commonly mistaken for a female house sparrow. Dunnock is derived from the Old English word for ‘little brown’. This is because they do look drab from a distance but close up they are quite pretty with a mottled blue-grey breast and face.

Deer.

Fallow deer are the most commonly seen deer in the New Forest currently numbers are maintained at about 1,300 Following the Norman Conquest of Britan ,the New Forest was proclaimed a royal forest, in about 1079, by William the Conqueror. Fallow deer were brought into the forest for the hunt. Forest Law, reserving the pursuit of beasts within it exclusively for the king and his officers.