Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

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.

 

Creepy Forest Ghost Spot Creature

No idea what this is:

 

A strange object I captured on the trail cam in the forest (photo frames, not video). It appears to be about a foot long, vertical and consists of 5 small equidistant ‘spots’. Bizarrely, it’s in the same location that we had a tree come crashing down in front of us today – the tree broke halfway up its height for no reason.
The object seems to move forward and then go upwards. There’s no way it’s an insect as they’re not out yet due to the cold. In the first couple of photos it’s to the right of the camera.

Red Deer Stag Kills Man

Red Deer Stag Kills Man

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.

Kestrel in tree

Kestrel in tree

I really hate taking photos when the sky is like this but you have to seize the moment. This is a Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) with unusual plumage. Unless it’s something else…

Bushcraft Magazine Autumn Article

Bushcraft Magazine Autumn Article

The Autumn issue of Bushcraft Magazine is out. They’ve included an article of mine on the benefits and techniques of Trail cam usage as both a learning tool for and a moral alternative to trapping.

Go order a copy. As usual, the magazine is beautifully printed. Support real bushcrafters – those dedicated to sustaining ancient skills in the modern world.

New Beech Marten footage – good quality!

 

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…

Goat photo bomb

Goat photo bomb

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.

Beech Marten infrared conundrum

Beech Marten infrared conundrum

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.

Any suggestions?

Autumn bushcraft in the Carpathians

Autumn bushcraft in the Carpathians

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.

White-backed Woodpecker?

White-backed Woodpecker?

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.