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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shrews in the churchyard!

Walking through the churchyard this week I came across this poor shrew (dead) that had probably been caught and dropped by a cat. I include it in my blog because it is one clue to why we have a good population of Tawny owls locally. This is one of their favourite foods, along with voles, so a healthy shrew population is good news for the owls, which by the way, have been hooting vigorously in the last few weeks.

Winter approaches and birds are busily feeding

This week after a wet,windy spell of weather, the temperatures dropped sharply on Thursday evening, resulting in the first frost of the season.
Walking around the lanes I spotted flocks of small birds such as Blue, Great and Long tailed Tits which were busy foraging for food in the hedgerows as if they knew the colder weather was on its way. One nice sighting were a small flock of Goldcrests moving through the trees alongside the R. Isle near Pudleigh. In winter, the Goldcrest must find an insect or spider every 2.5 seconds to maintain its bodyweight so they are constantly flitting as they search for food. 

More birds have been coming to the bird table this week too, including Goldfinches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers so it is important to keep the feeders stocked up now.

Swallows depart

Getting back home from California on the 24th September it was great to see so much greenery still about. On holiday in the States it was obvious that the weather there had been much drier and everything seemed very brown.

We were delighted to see that there were still swallows about too . A dozen young birds were seen preening on the telegraph wires over the stables alongside Combe Wood Lane on the morning before a full moon on the 30th September but were gone the next day. There were however a couple still about a few days later and and they lingered on well into October.

Reports of single birds are still being recorded along the coast as they fly off to warmer climes in South Africa but sadly, "our" birds have all gone for another year now. The other sad thing is, that for the first time in some years there were no active nests in the church South porch this year. Let's hope they take up residence again in the future.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Califonia Dreaming!

It has been a while since I last uploaded a post to this blog, partly due to having been away in California on holiday so I will add some separate posts shortly to try and catch up!

Whilst California is not eactly local, it was a wildlife trip and some of the sights are worth sharing.
For example, whilst we did not see any foxes like the one from an earlier post seen on the Blackdowns, we  did see a number of Coyotes. This one wandered into the road as we drove along and stood staring at us defiantly as we approached ever closer.
We think it was a young one and perhaps not very road aware, we just hope she did not end up getting run over.

We were lucky enough to travel to Yosemite and see the huge Sequoia trees, many of which are over a thousand years old. Some are so huge you could drive a car through them but this is one where our group could easily fit under the trunk!
Sequoia in Yosemite
However, perhaps the most memorable sight and a very unexpected one, was that of the last flight of the space shuttle as it flew over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on its way to its last resting place, a museum in Los Angeles.

"A Very Big Bird!"