Tuesday, 4 April 2017

big chief I-spy?


Above their heads, goldfinches and lesser redpolls dispense sunflower hearts. Gratefully, seven hen pheasants and one magnificent cock bird receive the largesse and push and shove with a drake and two mallard ducks. The push-and-shovers are probably ones released on New Farm for the shooting season. Asylum seekers.
common quaker moth

Perhaps a cock pheasant should be termed 'a dude' - he has such swagger and gloss at this time of year. A burnished dooood. A pirate. He was strutting his stuff around a thick patch of epimedium sulphurium where a slender young female was concealed, occasionally shaping up, throwing his head back and declaiming. There are few males calling back. Last year, the alpha male established the entire garden as his own and vanquished all challengers. But steadily, he lost ground to another male. One could watch the boundaries of the territories being shifted with every aggressive and punishing face-off. And encroachment came from all sides. No sooner had he punished one intruder, another appeared. He was steadily pushed back and then, as the season ran on, by now tailless and broken he was bested.

Pheasants are the most-easily spotted and most-frequently remarked on of all the Cordwood birds. If shooting release ends, it will be interesting to see how the ecology of the site changes.
hedgehogs visiting 'the hog cafe'

Tiny black flies within moth light box. 46 moths of 12 species attracted to the moth light sited by the pond. Each moth named by the Victorian academics (often members of the clergy) who first took an interest in them. Does the clouded drab have self-esteem issues? 128 moths two days later beneath sallows and  under cover of a hedge including 62 common quakers, 28 small quakers and one twin-spotted quaker: a veritable meeting house of moths.

This fascination with wildlife, spotting and counting it, has recently seen me compared with Big Chief I-Spy. Not favourably.

Something's taking the hedgehog food from my hog cafe. Two individuals (large and small) caught on trail cam. They're eating a cupful of hedgehog food and dried mealworms a night. Although there should be plentiful natural food around, I'm keen to build up their body weight and condition so that they can breed successfully. Another branch of the hog cafe will be opened in the Vegetable Garden soon. Can you imagine why the UK government has sanctioned use of New Zealand hedgehog traps to kill hedgehogs in this country?

During my nocturnal trudge, my bat detector has picked up bats echo-locating at 45kHz and 55kHz.  Accelerating clicks as another tiny insect taken. Presume common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle. The higher the frequency of echo location, the larger the prey.

Our first two green veined white butterflies of the year were courting in the Hot Border.

First mow of lawn complete. I can look forward to another twelve times if 2016 is a fair measure. Life is so much easier since Roger bought a ride-on mower. Before that, our huge lawn was mowed with a small walk-behind petrol mower that needed its' grass box emptying every twenty yards by vigorous shaking. The grass needed carting away in a barrow and the mower restarting with a mighty pull of the string. A half day was usually spent employed this way and I emerged as broken as a pheasant but without having had the glory days. I now mow the lawn in an hour. Everybody needs a Roger. I'm certainly glad I've got one.

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