We now have a pair of greylag geese taking residence on the pond with the female making a nest on the floating island. These birds are HUGE!
Six Five new wildflowers identified so far this year. They may not be rare but they’re joining a growing list, now up to 106 different wildflowers her at Tipton’s Croft.
seven six! Here’s garlic mustard (but not in flower yet).
Update: we have misidentified the yellow archangel as a native wildflower. This one is actually an invasive non-native subspecies (Lamiastrum galeobdolon spp argentatum) so we are now busy removing it from the edge of the field. The pale patches on the leaves are what makes it distinct from the native variety.
Oystercatchers today at Tipton’s Croft.
Extra camera fitted on ledge to try to read the leg ring number on one of the owls. Let’s see if it works…
Success! We now know the whole leg ring number and have identified the barn owl having hatched last year at a nesting site only about four miles from us.
The barn owls are at it already and there’s no doubt which one is the male. Several times a day too, so at this rate we should be seeing the first egg in a few days.
It’s now getting a little confusing. Today there are two owls in the nest box but one of them doesn’t have a ring on its leg so isn’t one of the two owls who have been visiting this week. So we now have at least three owls.
The two owls who have each been visiting the nest box seem to know each other a little better than we thought. They’re actually a pair and clearly like the nest box so fingers crossed that they settle in and do what owls do in spring!
The new owl has settled in for the day and has time to bring up an owl ‘pellet’. This is perfectly normal behaviour: it’s the undigestible remains of its last meal (such as a field vole or mouse). If the owl stays, within a few weeks the bottom of the nest box will disappear under a thick layer of these pellets. Lovely!
After a few weeks of an empty nest we had a visitor last night. Though a brief appearance, it was long enough to not only see the tag on the owl’s leg but also read its number, so hopefully we’ll know whether it is one of our previous owls or a new one. If it is new we’ll find out where it’s come from!
Two days later and another owl appears in the nest box. This one also ringed on the same leg but the number is different. Unfortunately we can’t read the whole number so won’t be able to tell where it’s come from.
…or not subtle!
A little late to the party but at last the change to warmer and wetter weather has brought them out of hiding. They’re everywhere already (and it’s only the first night).
Finally we have a working hootycam (after the old ones were disabled by a squirrel), but an empty nest box and looks like it has been empty for a while. Plenty of time though: it wasn’t until March last year that barn owls first appeared.
After a long winter in hibernation frogs have started to appear in the pond. Not many yet but over the next few days they’ll be joined by toads and then there’s going to be one heck of a party!
One swan mussel. No idea where it came from because we haven’t put any in, but a welcome sight: swan mussels are native and good for the water quality. We hope there are more but they are quite shy, normally hiding in the mud at the bottom.
A wet start to the year with the field waterlogged and the pond almost full after the summer drought.
The water in the pond is now crystal clear thanks to the rain and cold weather (and no more digging pond extensions). The roach, perch and sticklebacks aren’t so keen though and they’re keeping to the deep water to avoid the herons who stalk around the margins.
Happy Christmas from Tipton’s Croft. The recent freezing weather, with six inches of ice on the pond (and a frozen borehole) has given way to more familiar dark, wet weather with the occasional welcoming blue sky.
All is not quiet though. The barn owl is still around screeching at night, though isn’t roosting in either of the nest boxes. Herons, little egrets, snipes and wild ducks come to the pond where the roach and perch have retreated to the bottom, appearing only at night in torchlight.
Haws and holly are the only colour in the hedges but goldfinches brighten the edges of the meadow as they feed on knapweed seed heads.
Hopefully we will have visiting sheep soon to keep the meadow grass short until the wildflowers have a chance in the spring.
After a few weeks of no cameras in the nest box (thanks to something nibbling the cables up in the tree) we have fixed the technical issues and now have a good view of the inside of the nest box, where the new barn owl is settling in for the winter. She (see the black dots on her front) isn’t ringed and doesn’t look like our previous owls, so is likely new to the area.
The black blob on the bottom of the nest box is a fresh barn owl pellet and the first sign that an owl is around and might be interested in settling in.
A search back through the nest box camera’s saved clips reveals all. The barn owl has been visiting for a couple of days and even rested all day on Friday. We don’t know if it’s male or female, or if it is one of the adults from this year (it is unlikely to be any of the fledglings). We can’t see if it is ringed yet either. Will let you know more when we do.
Almost exactly to the day a barn owl starts to visit the nest box. It was 1 October when we first spotted one last year https://tiptonscroft.org.uk/blog/new-tenant/.
A week of filming the new shallow end of the pond shows how popular it is for birds.
In order of appearance: carrion crows, jackdaws, magpies, wood pigeons, moorhens, a snipe and a sparrowhawk having a bath.