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.

Angry Adder

Angry Adder

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…

Camera Shy Badger

I captured this badger (Meles meles) during a heavy storm on my Redleaf RD1000 game camera. The previous badger spent a good while licking the camera but this one first hides and then runs off when it detects it. I’ve noticed from experience that members of the Mustelidae family, for example badgers, martens and weasels, can detect or even see infrared. If they can, then what other creatures can also? Perhaps an ultraviolet trail cam would be more effective?

Edible Dormouse in Humane Trap

This is one of my resident Edible Dormice (Glis glis) from the attic. It’s the second one I’ve caught using a cage-type humane trap. They’re not very intelligent, unlike Pine Marten, so a simple piece of salami suffices and there’s no need to disguise the scent of the trap.
This little fellow will be going on a long drive where he’ll be released. They’re extremely cute but they’re very noisy and destructive – many people think their homes are haunted due to the sound of running feet these make above the ceiling. My house sounds like a race track some nights.

A couple of interesting things about Edible dormice – the Romans ate them roasted in honey as a delicacy, and they can regrow their tail like a reptile. They’re also the only member of the Glis genus… That was three things, wasn’t it?

Amazing Immense Eurasian Lynx trailcam footage

I knew there were Eurasian Lynx up in the heavily forested hills surrounding the village but I didn’t expect to find such an immense one wandering around a few hundred metres behind my house. I filmed it in the little wooded gully where I captured badger, pine marten, red squirrel, boar and red deer on the trailcam. It really made me think how often I’ve been kneeling down in the dark and damp with thick tree canopy above me not realising what might be looking down on me. They eat deer…

There’s never been an attack by Lynx on humans though, although they will go for domestic animals such as dogs and sheep (fox is part of their diet).

Eurasian Lynx are much bigger than their North American counterparts and are the third largest predator in Europe (ironically, we get the other two – wolf and bear – wandering around out the back also). They grow up to 130cms in length (only 10cms shorter than a cheetah) and can weigh up to 30 kilos.

The sheer biodiversity of where I live never fails to amaze me.

Young Wild Boar trailcam infrared

Young Wild Boar trailcam infrared

For a while the boar left the area as they follow the sweetcorn harvest but over the last week I’ve noticed their scat in the field behind the house. I set up the trailcam in a damp and muddy woodland gully which I know they pass through.

This young boar is calling out and looks particularly ugly. I have a photo of a scarily immense boar but only its head and shoulders. For some reason, the Redleaf HD1000 trailcam often gives ‘file errors’, completely black photos or doesn’t film. As a budget or entry trailcam it’s good to help learn the technique of using a trailcam but it’s not exactly reliable, nor are the pictures of decent quality.