We get many species of woodpecker visiting the garden. This one is the Great Spotted (Dendrocopos major). Aside from the black, green and grey woodpeckers, the vast majority in our area look very similar and it’s often difficult to identify them. The Great Spotted is best identified by its long white shoulder patches.
A 78 year old man from Prievidza (a town in the west of Slovakia) has died in hospital a week after being attacked by a stag. Apparently, it was a spontaneous attack as the man tended his orchard – the stag charged and skewered him with its antlers. More can be read here – noviny.sk – Stag Kills Man
Deaths from stag attacks are relatively rare, usually only one every so many years. Most often they’re during rutting season when people approach stags because they’re just standing still and not running away (which is because their brains are addled by rampant hormones). My kids and I were charged by one in the forest several years back and we had to hide behind a tree while it went berserk. 99.99% of the time the stag just flees though.
Note – the picture isn’t mine, it’s from the newspaper.
Cousin of the Pine Marten, Beech or Stone Martens are the bane of village life out here in the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Slovakia. They plague attics and cause a lot of damage. My garden is littered with large chunks of roof insulation and their scat is everywhere. Also, they run around all night which echoes across the ceiling. They’re also extremely aggressive and will hiss and scream. The sound of them catching their prey, and its screams, a few feet above your head at 3 in the morning is a shock.
After months of problems capturing the marten on the trail cam as it was aware of the infrared, it seems to have become adjusted to it and I finally managed to get some good footage. It’s winter so the marten is redecorating my attic to make a nest. And shitting all over the place. Very thoughtful of it…
Another denizen of my attic, the yellow necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis). This little critter is caught on infrared trailcam as he darts to and fro.
While he may be cute, the yellow-necked mouse carries tick borne encephalitis and, worse yet, the Dobrava virus, which is the Eurasian Hanta virus. It has a 12% mortality rate. As the main cause of viral infection is from aerosolized yellow-necked mouse faeces, I’m glad I wear a gas mask to go into my attic. Shame the Beech Marten couldn’t get rid of the lot of them.
This is in response to a comment by Josh Gross – The Jaguar about game cam use.
This is some strange trail cam footage I got a few months back. The creature is both large and partially transparent. No idea what it is but I guess it could be a wild boar. The photos creeped me out when I found them.
Photos taken in the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Slovakia. There really are some weird and creepy things out in the bush.
One thing I’ve discovered from using a trail cam is that there are periods when nothing shows up, despite the camera being on a clearly marked game trail, or that the camera produces lots of File Errors, black photos or fails to take film footage. Another annoying aspect of using a game camera is getting excited because it shows that it’s taken 103 photos and they in fact turn out to be pictures of cows or goats which some local has been grazing in the vicinity.
Weather also heavily effects the camera. Dawn is one of the best times to capture the various denizens of the bush but now there’s a freezing ground mist which blurs the lens making most of the photos useless. The other day I discovered a layer of ice on both the lens and the IR flash from where the dew had frozen. I wonder how it will fare when real winter and massively sub zero temperatures hit.
I’m still having major problems getting a full-bodied picture or film of our resident Beech Marten (Stone Marten). When the camera’s there he can see the IR light and thus backs away – he can even see the range of it. When I remove the camera from the attic he’s back to his usual noisy stomping tricks.
When I’m at the village house I go to the forest at least twice per day, usually morning to retrieve the trap camera and just before dusk to set it. When I’ve got chance I also like spending the day time wandering about in the woods looking for edible fungi.
This weekend we took the kids in to collect some nice leaves for an art exhibition I’ve got coming up. Whilst there my son found just over half a particularly large lynx skull – sadly not including the teeth. That’s now sitting in a bucket of water and bleach in my garage.
The colours of the forest at this time of year just cannot be explained in words. It’s utterly mesmerizing.
It’s taken a very, very long time to get just these few seconds of footage – despite the Beech Marten (Stone Marten, Martes foina) having spent the last decade using my attic floor as a latrine. Until you’ve shared space with one of these creatures, you cannot begin to understand just how noisy or dirty they are. They won’t go near traps (I’ve tried various sizes and types of humane traps and numerous baits), and once they detect the infrared trailcam they vanish.
It still amazes me that I have a complete ecosystem living in my attic – shrews, mice, martens, edible dormice, bats, numerous bugs… Shame the buggers can’t move their little microcosm somewhere else and stop shitting everywhere and running about screaming all night.