NATURE

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Just in case wildlife photography wasn’t hard enough in itself, my fellow human beings have gone out of their way to make it harder for me this week. I returned the wood to find that some low-life had stolen all of my feeders. Feeders that had been cable tied to the trees to stop crafty squirrels from unhooking and running away with them, were no match for the thief’s knife. My hide and my remote camera box hide were both apparently untouched and I can’t help coming to the conclusion that my stuff is being stolen by a birdwatcher. So far they have been twice that I know of. The first time they stole a camera trap and attempted to dismantle and take away the hide. This time four modified and squirrel proof feeders. No criminal damage, just selective theft. Surely kids larking about with a knife would have made a mess. I can only hope that those feeders are put to good use.

Anyway, while low-lifes are making things harder for me, life, low in the wood and at the farm have been proving the worth of my camera hides. The crows are regular visitors now, and the blackbirds have developed a taste for mince. The pheasants took a while to come out of the woodwork once the shooting season ended, but now they are arriving in numbers, up to ten at a time and the challenge is to get shots with multiple subjects. With no feeders to fill and a lot of disappointed birds queueing up by my hide, I had to resort to throwing food on the floor. It didn’t bother the greater spotted woodpecker he just got down and dirty but the long tailed tits wouldn’t follow his lead. If I can’t replace my feeders with something less stealable asap, I will have to start work weaning them back all over again.

Fortunately my hide at the the farm is further off the beaten track, so criminal damage is less of a threat. However the wind isn’t and the roof has been shredded by the recent gales. Once these cheap nylon hides have had a dose of uv for a couple of years, they become very brittle especially on top. One branch through the material and the wind gets in and starts ripping and tearing away. I have found a solution to that, by putting a small tarp over the top.  I don’t usually get a lot of activity here, but I have put up a pheasant feeder and it is starting to pay off. Over the last couple of weeks my camera trap has caught rats, mice, pigeons, crows, up to ten pheasants, up to three hares, badgers and foxes in attendance, so this site may yet have to become my primary one if the woodland hide gets damaged by trespassers.

The remote box hide is really paying off with birds regularly coming too close to focus on or even falling asleep in front of it. More and more birds are so comfortable with it that the number of preening shots is climbing rapidly as well. More than anything though I would like to get some partridges in front of this one. Unfortunately there seem to be very few about this year. I haven’t even seen one yet although I did hear them in the next field last week.

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