Proof that attracting wild-life means allowing for areas of wilderness, leaving unkempt habitats, or simply providing something of interest for wildlife to live in or rummage around in. So here's a skip from the end of Friday afternoon! (17:09, 2013.5.16).
The reservoir at Edgbaston Pool will provide a main focus for filming water birds, as it already provides a main focus for birdwatching, and for bird and landscape photography for the wildlife photography competition.
Several birds nest on the reservoir, and many others can easily be seen there on a daily basis. Nests of mallard, mute swan and canada goose have been noticed recently, but just as in recent years there is, again, a coot nest right up against the dam wall. Filming there on Friday afternoon (2013.5.17, 17:01), the mother coot was alarmed by two mallards swimming close by, and her calls continued until the male returned bringing nesting material.
A photograph of the nest unattended by Kaler Wong (UMT) last week showed 9 eggs; we will photograph and film the chicks when they hatch soon!
A major aim in filming bird life on the reservoir is to capture bahaviour - a long-term goal is the courtship display of the Great Crested Grebes, but for now the following will have to do (taken at 16:59):
Footage of badgers, let alone the juvenile who emerged last week for the first time since we started filming, has been scarce since. Instead, two foxes have been seen at the sett - one affected by mange, the other seemingly in better health. The videos below are all from Thursday 2013.5.16: the first, at 08:28, shows a fox catching scent outside the same burrow at site 3:
At 12:53 a different fox is seen entering the main burrow; though he must have escaped soon afterwards too quickly for the camera to trigger!
A final video (18:42) shows the earlier fox return and run past the set briefly.
A future project might be locating a fox den, and seeing what we can film there.
Aside from stand-alone trail cameras to observe the larger animal life, and use of regular, hand-operated still- and video-cameras (whether from a hide or out in the open) to film and photograph both flora and fauna, we also intend to make use of small 'cctv' cameras connected to a computer. Bird nest boxes are a perfect use for these, and our first one is now ready to be set up. It may be a little late for the spring, but birds searching for a nest for a second brood of chicks may take up residence in 'box 1' - our first monitored box - or may indeed use it to roost for the night.
Images below show the box itself, and the view inside past the camera. Clearly visible are the translucent 'windows' to allow more light for colour filming inside when the lid is closed (the camera defaults to infra-red when insufficient light is available) and wood shavings to line the floor of the box. All being well, it will be in position at the start of next week.
'Site 3' is a negligible distance from site 2, but shows a wider angle on the same burrows of the badger sett filmed last week. There hasn't been as much activity in recent nights as we saw on the first night of filming here, but early on Thursday morning (2013.5.9, 2:49am), the juvenile badger is seen emerging from the sett next to a parent.
D Corns, 2013.5.7 (Tues) 17:45
Along with the banner image at the top of this page, these pictures were taken this week in the woodland of the nature reserve. Click any of them to enlarge.
The bluebells are well worth seeing, if you have the time to take a walk to the nature reserve this week. Let's hope they also provide an inspiration for the UM wildlife photography groups this week and next.
Our two videos of the badger on the school site were taken at 23:21 and 3:12 during the same night (2013.4.30 - 5.1); they seem to show the same animal foraging for food.
The next stage was a 'recce' of the possible locations for badger filming in the woodland of the nature reserve, and several sites seemed promising. For obvious reasons - indeed, establishing a trend - I will not locate the site, but will name it 'site 2'. Site 2 is what we hoped would be a working badger sett, and we were rewarded, on the first night of filming, with the footage below.
The first two videos, taken at 21:03 and 05 on 2013.5.2 (Thurs) show a badger emerging from the burrow of its sett and scratching profusely!
Even more excitingly, this next clip - filmed at 21:06 - shows a glimpse of a youngster in the sett as the adult badger departs. A final video (not published here due to its brevity) showed the badger return at 5:17 on 2013.5.3 (Fri), an absence of approx 8 hours during the night.
[If desired, the other two videos from this same evening can be viewed on the KESWildlife YouTube channel].
A different method of acquiring wildlife footage, here: simply film birds at the feeder with a regular camera from the hide of the field classroom (albeit with a long lens). The feeder is well established, and on the day of filming was seen to attract not only the more common blue-, great- and coal-tits, robins, chaffinches and greenfinches, but also the great spotted woodpecker, bullfinch and nuthatch.
Footage captured between 1 and 2 pm on 2013.5.2 (Thurs).
... unexpected at 'site 1', at any rate. The above video was captured at 23:21 one evening on the first couple of days of trialing the trail camera at this location. We were aware that badgers had been sighted on the school grounds, but were delighted to see one so soon. The same food source that had attracted the squirrels and ground-feeding birds is clearly responsible.
The first task in setting up the 'conservation' project for next academic year is to establish areas - in particular, sites - of study. Some are pre-existing and obvious: the pond with the adjacent facilities (nets, trays, tanks, microscopes etc.) of the field classroom; the bird feeders which are already in use by species both common and less common, and which can be viewed from the bird-hide in the wall of the classroom. But others have to be established.
I have called the process of establishing some of these sites 'trail trials' due to what will become a major method for surveying wildlife - the trail camera: motion-triggered, infra-red capable, and able to be left 'in the field' for extended periods with video or images collected at a later time.
An obvious location for a first attempt is shown in the videos below. While it may be recognisable to some, I will simply name it 'site 1'. With a pre-existing source of food, it already attracts squirrels, wood pigeons, stock doves, magpies, crows, and ground-feeding smaller birds such as the chaffinch. It may be the precursor of a future mammal feeding-station elsewhere.
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