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.
Here’s some daylight-ish trail cam footage of a couple of Roe deer behind the house. They’re nowhere near as wised up as Red Deer – they’re basically overgrown rabbits. Compared to Red Deer, Roe are very cute. Perhaps I’m being specist but I’d rather eat Red than Roe merely because of the latter’s cute factor.
Continuing from the infrared-aware observations, I don’t think Roe Deer can detect it, unless I just happened to pick a particularly dumb specimen….
I caught this herd of Red Deer (only part of which is in the photo) as I was walking up the hill to the forest today. I found it interesting how each section of the herd was ‘segregated’ – the hinds (out of shot), the fawns, the hinds, the stag, and then the young bucks.
As I was looking for a place to put my trail cam, i followed them into the forest to see where their main entry/exit point was. The noise of a herd of red deer crashing through thick brush has to be experienced to be understood. A truck wouldn’t be louder. Also, as it’s still rutting season, I have to be a bit wary around stags as they can attack – they’ve killed a couple of people here over the last few years. My kids and I were charged by one we stumbled across in the forest years back and we had to hide behind a tree. During the rut they’re just bundles of hormones and adrenaline and testosterone and muscle with an immense rack of antlers at the front. Their main activity during this period is standing out in the open, easy pickings for hunters, bellowing “Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” at the top of their lungs, for several weeks.
Whenever I’m alone in the bush, there are several species of birds and animals which always keep me company – the Raven and Lesser Spotted Eagle fly above the trees making their calls (sometimes the eagle flies through the forest and its wing beats send whooshing sounds through the leaves), woodpeckers knock on trees, Jays scream at each other and Red Squirrels jump about playing with their nuts. And of course there are plenty of little tits….
When I was a kid back in England, the sounds were different, with the Wood Pigeon and the Pheasant being the dominant noise makers.
In the area around my house we get multiple species of woodpeckers, and most are easy to identify – the Green, the Grey, the Black, the Lesser Spotted – but there are other species which could be one of several. The woodpecker pictured here is, I believe, a White-backed (Dendrocopos leucotos) as it misses the vertical stripes seen in other species, such as the Greater. Then again, it might not be. If anyone can clear up this matter I would appreciate it.
Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the wood pile…
Yesterday, shortly after my brother had picked up some wood from the pile he keeps outside my house and then left, I noticed a cat playing with a snake on the road. It was pawing it and as the snake lunged it would quickly withdraw its paw. I thought it was a smooth snake until getting closer. It turned out to be the most livid adder (Vipera berus) that I’ve ever encountered.
Despite being Europe’s only poisonous species they’re usually quite docile, but this one started hissing and arching its head at me from several metres away. The cat had enraged it so much that it had clearly become dangerous. As it was a mere few feet from my garden, where my Jack Russell and kids play, it could have had dire consequences. I was really tempted to kill it, something I don’t like doing as I usually don’t have a problem with snakes, but as I was dressed to go out on a motorbike ride and the engine was running, i couldn’t be bothered with skinning it and defleshing – without which the skin would go to waste.
So the snake’s still there, in the rocks someplace. Hopefully, this hot weather will change and it will hibernate and wake up in the spring in a better mood. Otherwise it’ll end up on my barbecue and around my wrist…