The 1st half of Rem M started off the year's projects this Friday (2013.9.6) by searching for signs of the presence of the muntjac deer in the reserve. Though the cameras returned no extra footage of the deer themselves, the group observed possible bite and scratch marks on a fallen log, as well as disruption to the ground caused by foraging along a known deer path. See below for their records, including badger burrows alongside the main path in the woodland, a broken egg-shell, and a sketch-map of the locations and features passed and observed.
2013.9.6 (14:45 approx) near site 10
"tree bark on the ground which had bite and scratch marks on it"
2013.9.6 (between 14:15 and 14:40) ~200 yds from uprooted tree (see map)
Sheharyar Khan & Freddie Crawford
"4 badger sett holes and small burrow marks and diggings from foraging. Ground was upturned".
Broken Egg Shell
2013.9.6 (14:40 approx), main path
Ben Coward & Jaydon Gill
"about half the size of a ping-pong ball; it looks to have been eaten at the side. We don't think it could have hatched because it split in half and the hole was too small".
2013.9.6 (15:00), trail leading to site 10
Hardeep Kalsi & Sulaymaan Khalil
"bite marks on the cap... rotten and soggy!"
The 'deer cameras' at sites 8 and 10 were checked, and site 8 returned footage of what seemed to be the same fox passing by on 2013.9.4 (20:15) and 2013.9.6 (4:06); a badger was also observed to pass by at 2013.9.6 (3:36) [records by Jake Johnstone & Zhangqu Chen].
The map below shows the route followed and the observations made.
Map of Woodland
An extended summer trial at Site 9 - negligible distance from the future site 10 - returned only a little footage of the muntjac, but this one is worth posting (no activity after 0:18).
And here is a little extra from Site 8: two muntjac clearly in view, with markings and behaviour clearly apparent.
After the sighting of a muntjac deer at the main badger sett (site 4), some further locations for filming have been trialled. Site 8 views an animal path through the woodland - not interrupted by some of the man-made paths (or more importantly, man-used paths), and running through woodland confined on one side by a fence line and on the other by just such a man-used path. Through late July and into August, several videos of muntjac have been taken recorded here - those below initially showing a deer foraging, sniffing and scratching; then a second deer in frame. The majority of these are in the 'small hours' (refer to timestamps on the videos below), but one shows two deer active just before 10am.
Further footage from site 8, and from two further deer-hopeful sites, to follow...
There isn't yet much mention of the invertebrates on this site, but summer is the perfect time to document them. Some of the most photogenic are the several species of damselfly and dragon fly which hover around the pond and Edgbaston Pool, where these images were taken.
This first image shows the male (blue) grasping the female (green) behind the head, which takes place for a protracted period of time during their mating.
As well as a similar grasping pose from another pair below, the third picture shows the female curving her own body forward to receive the male's sperm - another position which can last some time! The distinctive 'heart' shape can clearly be seen.
Some idea of the 'mating in action' can be seen in the video below (far from a close-up clip, though it depicts the process). These videos and images were all taken on 2013.7.30, in the middle of the summer break from school; next year's projects will aim to capture better video footage, and document the species found and their areas of breeding, as well as the egg-laying part of the reproductive process.
Site 4 has turned up some surprises. As mentioned in the last entry, footage of badger behaviour, as such, has been limited as yet; though the sett itself seems to attract other animals too. Below, a frequently-visiting rat can be seen catching something as he walks around the burrow.
Foxes were seen to visit site 2/3 on a previous occasion, and here we see more activity on the 'site 4 side' of the sett. Note the limp of the second fox as it walks in front of the camera.
But the last visitor seen at site 4 was completely unexpected: a muntjac deer sniffing around the burrow itself; just passing through, it seems. In a month of filming at site 4, this is the only sighting of a deer, though it is enough for us to set up elsewhere in the coming weeks and months to find further detail of where these deer live and forage, and how they behave when undisturbed.
Badgers have been filmed at their sett in the nature reserve from two camera angles on one burrow so far (sites 2 and 3). Site 4 is around the other side of the same sett, and the videos below, from mid- to late-June, predictable show badger activity; though the more elevated location of the burrow means the behaviour shown so far is of passing animals than of entrances/exits/digging of the burrow itself. See the video details for dates and times.
A first glimpse at some of the fungi in the woodland: pictured left, the Birch Polypore; pictured below, the 'Dryad's Saddle'. A full survey of the mushrooms, toadstools and other fungi in the woodland can be carried out later in autumn. These images taken 2013.7.9.
An overview of the pond shows the several plants found therein, and the several areas of habitat provided by them. Click the image for a larger version (as elsewhere on this blog). Some closer images below, showing Yellow Flag Iris, Water Soldier and Greater Spearwort.
Yellow Flag Iris
Another location for study is the school pond, and a chance to survey a completely different habitat in miniature. Coinciding with the Removes' ecology lessons this summer term, here are some of its residents (temporarily in tanks, allowing closer inspection and filming), with a glimpse at their behaviour.
Images below show the Common (or Smooth) Newt, and a snail scraping the side of the tank with its radula.
Two sets of video show behaviour in the pond animals. The first clip is of the larva of the Great Diving Beetle feeding: note especially the flatworm on the larva's body, and the occasionally-visible movement of food through the larva's (transparent) head and down into its body.
The second pair of videos shows a species of Caddisfly larva - firstly searching through the litter along the bottom of the tank, and secondly moving around, including into and further out of its case.