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Three Foxes (A Camera Trap Post)

So here is a post based on what the blog is named after, a camera trap in Cornwall. I had a lot of chicken pieces left over from dinner and...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Hard to Swallow

Down on the marshes there is a grey heron who is usually around the main lake. He was there the other day and had caught something he was struggling to swallow. On looking through my binoculars I saw that he had caught an eel and was a bit confused as to what to do. I got the camera out and snapped away at the events to follow.

The eel wrapped itself around the herons beak and thrashed around so much that the heron dropped it on the ground.  The eel tried to make a mad dash for the water but before it could even get to the waters edge the heron scooped it back up. He managed to get the eel, tail first down his throat. 

Swallowing a live animal, particular an eel tail first is not a good move. It allows the animal to move around and head for freedom. The eel succeeded and emerged from the herons beak like a giant tongue. After much more struggling the heron managed to turn the eel around head first and swallow it. It never came back up a second time.

I have seen grey herons capture prey items which I would not normally have seen. This one with the eel, one at Radipole lake in Dorset caught a water vole, and in Portugal one caught a crayfish. All three prey species where new sightings. Its worth watching these birds to glimpse a new (but about to be eaten) species

Capturing the eel 

Dropping the eel

Turing the eel around

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Spring has Sprung

First off in a previous post (here) I mentioned about collecting teasel for a classic goldfinch shot. Well the other day I was sitting inside and one started to feed on one which I had filled with nyger seed. I only had my medium lens handy and it was through a window but I got a shot of one on the teasel. Soon I hope to get a clear shot with my long lens.

Goldfinch on teasel
 Back to today now and spring has arrived all in one day. I woke up to a hot sunny day and had breakfast in the garden. While out here I heard the first chiffchaff of the year calling away. The buzzards where also active circling close overhead.

Buzzard overhead

As such a nice day has been rare this year we made the most of it and took a long walk down the country lanes then the canal followed by the beach and more lanes. Lots of signs of spring where around and other species which do not signify spring, they are year long residents, where around.

Pied Wagtail on the weir.
 On reaching the beach we stopped for a lunch of sandwiches and fruit. In one of the dried up rock pools was a starfish. He was drying up so I moved him into a bigger water filled pool. After a few minutes in the water he uncurled and stared to move around.

Starfish in the water
 Further along near the tall sea cliffs we saw for me the real introduction to spring, the return of the martins and swallows. Today I saw a few house martins flying around after the long flight form the African Continent. Soon there will be lots of these little birds as well as sand martin, swallows and swifts.

The first martin of the year
There where also a lot of butterfly species out today and ladybirds. The butterfly species we saw where painted lady, cabbage white, tortoise shell and the one below, a peacock.

You can see why it called a peacock from its large "eyes" on its back. These are not eyes but just a coloration much similar to a peacocks in design but the purpose is different. A peacocks eyes are for displaying to a mate while the butterfly uses them to scare off birds who think they are the eyes of a larger creature.

Peacock butterfly
So spring is here and hopefully the weather will stay nice for a little while more.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Bird in the Bag

Today after hail and rain there was a break in the weather and the sun came out to we went to try and find the stoat. We unfortunately didn't see him as it was busy on the canal. 

We carried on walking and didn't see any wildlife so went to the sea cliffs. Here the gulls and fulmars are back and ready to lay eggs.

As we neared the end of the walk we came back to the canal and saw something not too good. A gull trapped in a plastic bag. 

the gull in a plastic bag 

His head and wings where through and he was flying around so we couldnt help him. He had other gulls pecking the bag so hopefully they will tear it and free him. His legs are trapped inside so he cannot land safely so may be stuck in the air until he tires or the bag falls off. 

his legs are trapped
You often see turtles, not here, tangled in plastic bags but I have not heard of a bird stuck in one.

Friday, 16 March 2012

BBC Camera Trap Competition

Just had an email from the bbc about a camera trap competition. Camera trap codger (link here) has also posed about this. Below is the press release sent to me.

PRESS RELEASE 16 March 2012
Caught on camera: Global search for the BBC Wildlife Magazine Camera-trap Photo of the Year 2012 begins

BBC Wildlife Magazine launches its 2012 Camera-trap Photo of the Year competition today, kicking off its annual search for the most exciting and revealing camera-trap images captured around the world.
The competition, sponsored by the World Land Trust and Páramo, is open to anyone working on a research or conservation project that uses remote camera technology. This year also sees the competition opened up to keen amateur photographers for the very first time, with the launch of a new British Wildlife category for anyone experimenting with remote cameras in the UK.
Entrants to the BBC Wildlife Magazine Camera-trap Photo of the Year competition can submit a maximum of 12 camera-trap images into any of the four categories:
Animal Portraits - Images taken during the course of your research which capture the character or spirit of their subject.
Animal Behaviour - Images captured during the course of your research which show interesting or unusual behaviour.
New Discoveries - Images should show something new to science, such as a species never before photographed in the wild or outside its known range, or behaviour never before recorded. The caption must make clear what the discovery is.
British Wildlife - Images must be taken in the British Isles by amateur photographers.
Sophie Stafford, Editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine, commented: “Remote camera technology is an increasingly important tool in conservation efforts and is helping to unravel the secrets of rare and secretive species around the world and close to home. This year, in response to reader feedback, we are delighted to invite amateur photographers to enter their photos of British wildlife. I can’t wait to see the results.”
The winner of each of the three ‘research’ categories will be awarded £1,000 for their project. The overall winner will be chosen from one of these three winners and their project will win an additional £2,000.
The winner of the British Wildlife category will win a top of the range Páramo Halcon jacket worth £310. The winners, up to three runners-up and up to six commended images in each category will be published in the December 2012 issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine and in a gallery on the BBC Wildlife Magazine website, www.discoverwildlife.com.Entry is online at www.discoverwildlife.com/competitions, and all photos must be submitted by the closing date of 13 July 2012.
For competition rules and further information on how to enter, see the April issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine on sale 17 March 2012, or visit www.discoverwildlife.com/competitions

For all media enquiries, please contact:
Carolyn Wray Press Office | Immediate Media Co 0117 3148812 | carolyn.wray@immediate.co.uk

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Stoat-aly Awesome

All week we have had fog which has been good and bad. Good that I have been kept indoors working on my assignment. Bad that I have been kept indoors and cant see further than the bird feeders. Yesterday the fog cleared and the sun came out although today the fog is back in force. 

We decided to make the most of the sun and headed to Duckpool beach and forest. In the forest we heard lots of buzzards and even saw a lovely yellow coloured bird, the grey wagtail. You could easily think that this was the yellow wagtail from its coloration. When you see a yellow wagtail you realise that it is completely yellow while the grey is only half yellow.

Grey Wagtail
 After coming home for lunch in the garden and getting the summer table and chairs out we watched the goldfinch and other little birds. we thought it would be nice to find some dried teasels and fill them with niger seed. This will hopefully produce the classic image of a goldfinch on a teasel.

We walked down the canal where we thought they may be and found some. On returning home I saw what I though was a rat under a bench but as we approached we saw it was a friendly stoat. 

Peeping over the edge

He wasn't bothered by our presence and was scurrying around while we sat on the bench. He only hid when someone walked past with a dog.

He was really small, the smallest stoat I have seen yet. Its surprising that such a little animal hunts rabbits.  In scale it would be like a border collie taking on an elephant.

under the bench

I decided to film him a little too and you can see how close he came to us.

It was nice to see him and hopefully we will see him again.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Cape Points Camera Traps and Ratels

I have not updated for a while as I have an assignment due Friday and most of my time has been spent on completing this with time to check it over. I will start with more updates soon especially when I get my new camera trap.

In the mean time I have seen news about camera trapping, South Africa and ratels (honey badgers), three of my favourite subjects. Table mountain national parks Cape of good hope section has purchased 5 new camera traps to monitor the parks wildlife and also human disturbance. It is hoped that poachers will be identified by these traps. Good if it works.

Another use is by an unnamed conservation student carrying out research with the traps in some way and looking to hopefully reintroduce the ratel here. That is all good news for me especially as it will be in the Western Cape. The full media release can be seen here: http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/default.php?id=1840

A ratel, in a zoo unfortunately but hopefully soon I can add a wild one on here.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sunbathing Lizards

I have just had an email from the camera manufacturers saying they are going to replace my camera so expect some camera trapping back here soon. In the mean time here is a new species for the blog, some sand lizards.

Last week we had a few days of nice sunny warm weather so off on the coastal cliff path we went. The main goal was to see adders but we saw none. In one of the places we searched these two lizards where sunbathing before heading out on their daily business.

Lizard in the thorns

They where sitting on the top of a gorse bush, hence the thorns, which cut into my hand taking the photos. It was nice to see these little reptiles since here in the U.K they are hardly seen.

Close up of the lizard

Anyway camera trap posts soon. Stay tuned.