Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Stunning summery evenings at last bring Foxy nights

A few weeks ago before the growth of the Summer vegetation I was wandering by the river on my first afternoon walk of the week when in the courner of my eye I spied something rather interesting. In a patch of long grass I could see 3 pairs of red/black ears and 3 tails dashing around as I got closer I found an area of squashed grass which looked like some cute little mammals had been palying. So I decided to wait and watch and as I tucked into my lunch an adult Fox came in with a dead rat for the cubs to eat and play with. I managed to get close and snap a few photographs of the 3 cubs playing around the den area which was hidden under a bramble patch.
2 of the 3 cubs watch the 3rd with there new toy
2 Kits having fun the other cub which has one white leg and three black he seems to be the brave one
You can just see all three cubs having fun while mums out hunting
2 of the 3 kits but one seems to be focused on my direction
The now flat rat destroyed by the cubs
I'll update on these cubs as they grow and hopefully they will survive like last years cubs that were in the same area last. Only 2 out of 3 cubs survived in 2017 and made it to adulthood as last June I found one that was not very well so I ended up wrapping it in my jumper to carry. I tried to get to an with an area with a phone signal to call the RSPCA but the cub passed away before I could leave the woodland due to thick vegetation. I felt it slipping away halfway back so i stopped in a woodland glade. I think it was either dehydrated and got seperated from the rest of the family but it looked fully weaned. Once the cub had passed I took the cub back to the area where I often saw the mother sunbathing earlier in the year. I got a few photographs of the Fox cub and this is the first time I've looked at them since 2017 as it was one of those moments that took a while to get over.
When I first discovered the cub it was alive but weak and it picked up then went back wards
I'm just glad I was there as it seemed to find comfort curled up my jumper
Sorry for the upsetting post but Nature is not just beautiful but its cruel as well.

Thanks for reading and protect wildlife

Mike

Monday, 14 May 2018

Chester to Barbridge to Middlewich

This weekend we decided to finally check out the Shropshire canal while the boat traffic was quiet due to the Canal breech at Middlewich. We bought new backpacks as the supplies we needed would not fit into our existing backpacks. We planned the walk using this link https://gb.mapometer.com/walking/route_578667.html and it was a perfect Saturday for a long 30+ mile walk back home. We set off a 10am and got back at about 6.30pm on the same day. I wanted to walk this canal as its one of the most rural canals on the outskirts of Cheshire and there were many beautiful spots along the way.
Along the route, I kept my eyes on the ground as during my research stage I found there to be a possibility of water voles being on some of the canal towpaths and we were not disappointed at all. In one spot the bank was littered with pringled box sized holes which is how you can tell who the owner of the burrow is. There were stalks of grass and dropping leading down a narrow channel to the water. 
There was another reason I wanted to see this canal as I'm looking into the possibility of a future boating life and this canal looks like a nice place to moor a boat due to the marinas have lush green woodlands/fields and reedbeds along the Cheshire plains below Beeston castle.
 Chester to the countryside
 Due to the canal being so quiet and no water flowing due to the lack of boats along the route due to there being no room to turn boats around, the local Carp seem to be breeding in good number this year and there were 30+ swimming around and feeding in a 10M stretch
 Not only were the fish making the most of the sunny weather as when we reached the end of the journey to my surprise I spotted a small Gunea pigged animal swimming in the water along the canal bank. We watched the watervole which disapeered behind some dry grass hanging over the canal bank suddenly we heard a few vocalization and then we saw a pair scrapping and chasing each other on the canal surface which ended in them both climbing up the brambles and into some scrubland alongside the bank. This was the first one I have seen for over 15 years when I first saw one on a local river before the so called watervole killers the Mink were thought to be wiping them out but I think humans are causing the decline with habitat loss 80% habitat loss and 20% Mink. I think the Watervoles are adapting on my local patch as this small colony should not exist as Mink are every were along the water coarses on my local patch, I will do a full post soon on this topic.
 This dog called Kelly kept us company as we left Tattenhall marina with his playfulness until his owner called him back.
No photographs of the Watervoles but with the canal due to be quiet for the whole of the  summer I'll be doing nightly last light walks by getting the bus into the countryside then walking back home past the watervoles location but as I have another precious few creatures to try and photograph including Otters and Badgers plus this little one that likes to play hide and seek with me.
Lots to post about including all my Early summer wildlife encounters
and my search for a minimalist life that may get me even closer to the nature that I love so much.
Kind regards

Mike

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

A common garden tick and some scummy individuals

I've been struggling to get some creative blog writing time in recently but with it being a rainy Spring day I have finally got time to get going again. I'll begin with this which happened a few weeks ago when I returned home from an afternoon walk to the old Oak which is a new spot I've recently found. I ended up looking out of the window to see 2 young women feeding a male and female mallard at first they fed the birds and I thought that was innocent enough and went on with cooking dinner. About 10 minutes later and the women had started leading the ducks out of the cemetery gate and to the nearby main road with it making the ducks nervous they stopped following the food trail so one of the women started lunging and scaring the ducks. I thought enough was enough so I shouted at them to leave the ducks alone the young women quickly ran away and I thought to keep the ducks safe it would be best to bring them in the garden so they could be safe away from the road. I got some bird seed and they followed me into the garden as we have a pond they settled in and got quite cozy.
They stayed for a few hours and left at last light, I thought that was the last we would see of them but over the last 2 weeks, they have returned each day. At first, they would arrive at the gate and quack until we let them in but now they circle each day and land in the garden to feed and bathe in the area we made for them including some straw as I thought the female may want to nest in the garden.
On the 23rd April, the male returned alone to see if his female had returned but she did not so I'm guessing she may be nesting somewhere nearby probably by the river as I noticed sand in there clear feeding pond we set up so they would have some deeper water to wash in. All I hear now a few times a day is Drake quacking to the sky in the hope his lady Daffodil would return so now he keeps coming back to feed in the water seed tray then he heads off to where he came from. A common bird but a wonderful addition to the garden even if they defecated everywhere the enjoyment was to see them sitting in the sun in the Nature area we have created in the garden.
I'm glad they stayed for a while as I've been out and about photographing spring wildlife I've bumped into 2 individuals in camouflage going up and down the canals targeting birds(Doves/Pigeons) nests in the tops of trees with catapults. I think in order to knock the babies out of the nests for some reason whether for sadistic killing satisfaction or to feed themselves or a pet they have is still unknown. I have more investigating and evidence to gather as and when I see them. I have seen them a few times on weekend evenings and one evening I followed a line of feathers where they was blood and a clear trail to a dead baby pigeon by the Big lock a local canal pub in the direction they went. I was informed by one of my local informants who keep an eye for the same suspicious things I do which is rather handy as I have quite a few people keeping an eye out for wildlife crime locally and on the North Wales coast.
I'll update on this soon once more information is gained. There are more people like this locally that I have also caught out and they are ongoing cases which are slow going but once they make that one mistake hoepfully I'll be there to capture it as this will be the year where wildlife survilence cameras will come in handy to show local people what goes on in there local countryside and the local people that commit these scummy activities from illegal Hare killing with Dogs to Badger baiting, it happens in my local town of Middlewich and if I can disturb and disrupt the senseless killing of our wildlife and the stunning countryside we have then I feel like I have done my part.

Regards

Mike

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Spring snow returns once again

Just as I was getting ready for Spring again!!! and the evil white stuff returning some of the spring signs I spotted a few days ago have been really affected by the sudden blizzards. The Swans and garden birds starting nesting and in a local pond, the Frogs began mating and then it came back the mini beast from the east or something I heard it being called. As we went to Macclesfield Forest and into the hills of the Peak district the day before it was nice to see the snow there but also to enjoy the views on my local patch on a day off rather than having to rush off to work where normally by the time I normally finish the snow has normally melted. By the time I returned home after a few hours taking photographs in the snow I was happy to have made the effort to get up early as by 10am it was all gone but I got a few photographs of my favourite local wildlife places.
From the back of Macclesfield forest
 The birds were really struggling to fly in the winds coming down from the hills we were hiking the day before. I saw a few victims of the storm a Fieldfare with a damaged wing and a crow were two I have seen them disappearing into vegetation on foot rather than flying but as they are quite responsive and feeding themselves so it's up to nature whether they survive. The only time I get involved is if something has been injured or affected by man-made causes. If the birds are injured by the elements so their loss of life may be the fuel to help another creature or creatures survive the harsh weather.
Frog Spawn on the local pond was covered in slushy ice
A very wintry looking lake where we saw a Pink-footed goose recently
On the way back home for breakfast in bed
The Daffodils look sorry for themselves under the heavy snow
My garden when I left the house for my early morning walk
In my garden last week we had a Blackbird, Robin, and Blue tit nest building and since the snow returned they have all disappeared but as it took me a few days to find the time to write this blog after deleting the 1st draft. The garden is now returning to birds nesting central the wild Garlic is shooting up as well as the balsam and bluebells which I can't wait to see them flowering in the coming weeks.
I hope to be adding a few more feeders, table plus a bird box to my new Wildlife observation area in the next week or two so I'll keep you updated on the first species to visit the area as the habitats are so varied so I'm hoping the species will be to.
The Toad breeding migration will begin in a few weeks and the Otters may show up to feed to
Just a quick note to say I have just received my Falcon bivi camouflage hide which I'll be using on my first Spring trip to Wales after Easter and I will be trialing and reviewing for Go wildlife watching next week so keep an eye out for that as after opening today the weight and portability are making this look like a promising 2018 product for wildlife photographers and wildlife watchers.

Stay warm and enjoy watching spring wildlife

Regards

Mike

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Back up to Macc with Snow and Red Deer

With the Snow returning a few weeks ago I wanted to head back up to Teggsnose for a second visit this time I wanted to head into Macclesfield forest to see what else we could see and we found a few interesting places. The Snow was not as heavy as our last visit but it was still nice weather as we had a few moments where the sky cleared and the sun shined down warming up the air slightly.
 It was wonderful getting into the forest and finding the Ranger station which had a bird table and a number of bird feeders which were very busy with the all the snow falling higher up the hill. We stuck to the road which saved time and energy. Below is a leaflet which can be viewed fully on the following link - Macclesfield Forest leaflet -
 Near to the station is the arboretum and separate gated off area with benches, bird boxes and a viewing area which looks onto the largest Henronry in the Peak district and the second one I have visited in the last year but I'll do an update blog about my local Heronry very soon. There were plenty of Herons on the water hunting for eels their nests looked well protected from the wind and there were some sat on their nests possibly on eggs so it's understandable why they have settled there.
 The information board explaining aspects of the Herons lifes
Below is my favorite view and as I always like to leave an area unexplored for the next visit hopefully the next Saturday I have free we will try to get to one of the two viewpoints over Cheshire but as the main higher route up has been closed due to fallen branches I'm hoping next time it will be open.
The highest part of the forest we have reached till now but it got windier so we headed  back down
With the weather changing to a cloudy dull day, it was time to head back up to the Teggsnose main entrance to start the long walk back to Macclesfield to catch the bus back home. As we headed back along the steep road down my brother saw 2 Red Deer hinds behind the Heronry area feeding under the cover of the pine trees out of all snow blizzard. To keep my bag weight down I left my camera at home so we one day we will return and go to the best places for selected species and habitats. I'm looking forward to seeing birds over the summer that I've only seen in North Wales so to see them in Cheshire would be great especially Dippers, Redstarts, and Flycatchers.
here's my route for next time we head up to Macclesfield as I have found a way around the closed path as it would be great to see some birds of prey riding the thermals above Cheshire as I would love to see and photograph a Redkite as its been a few years since I have seen one in Cheshire.

Thanks for reading

Mike

Sunday, 11 March 2018

All go for nesting season!!!

As the week began I noticed a sudden change of warm air and the first of the Spring showers coming in and many more birds are beginning there 2018 nesting season. Locally the Swans have built there nest up slowly but as more rain is coming and the fresh reeds have only just begun to breach the waters surface I dont think they will begin any egg laying in the next month for them. One Grebe has returned to the local flash and the Geese and other birds have begun to make there muddy platforms ready to begin adding the vedgetation to give them a stable platform for the future of there species. If we go by past nesting seasons then they have a task ahead of them.
The water level really affects the water birds here as the rain the canal locks and run off from nearby farmland causes the levels to rise and fall quickly as the flash also has a overflow into a river which runs alongside the flash.


  I even visited a few of my monitored Badger setts to check on cameras I've placed out to capture footage of any would be wildlife crime commiters plus as there also booby traped cameras so any one trying to take them will be very surprised on the messy outcome if there touched by any human interference. The Badgers have started to excavate they setts ready for there cubs next stage as they need more room to grow and I bet it can get very messy underground with all that Cub poo littering the sett chambers. Normally I have my first encounters with the Badgers and there cubs before easter so I'll keep you updated on that in the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading

Mike


Saturday, 3 March 2018

False Spring I guess !?!?

Well here's me thinking that Spring was in full flow but the beast from the east came out of nowhere. In the past few days, we have had so much snow and cold weather than we have seen for a few years even if you put them together. I have had to cancel one plan of going to Teggsnose and Macclesfield forest due to the bad weather up there.
Ice by the roadside
 Caught out in a BLIZZARD
 Edges of the canalside waterfall began to freeze
A very icy and windswept tow path
 A white garden
 After the storm
As well as snow and Ice I had a wonderful Sunday morning last week when I visited a new place locally where I can watch the sunrise and the sunset. There are Lapwings, Woodpeckers and Skylarks close to home. I'll hopefully be finding Barn Owls and Foxes here in the evenings and early hours. 
We saw a pair of Kestrels calling and doing flying cortship one vening while dropping off some bird feed as theres a few flocks of unidentified birds I have not got close to yet but my new feeding station may pay off soon.
After arriving at the area and the sun rising the birds began to sing a stunning chorus. I waited until the birds quieted down and then I headed home for breakfast and to get a few hours sleep after a wonderful few hours sitting in the sun and enjoying nature.
Hopefully, once the air warms up my encounters will increase and as it's only 6 weeks till my first Wales trip I'm hoping my first Otter encounter of the Spring will be very soon.

Thanks for reading

Mike