Walk on the Wildside
I had an adventure today … and I didn’t get muddy …
First to update you on the Bird of Prey pellet I found (sorry Pup found) yesterday … current thinking is that it is a pellet cast by a female Sparrowhawk and the bird she had eaten for her tea was a male kestrel. I will update you again if that thinking changes. However that did inspire my adventure.
I spent this morning doing applications and text chatting with a friend who was feeling a little glum. While I got myself organised the boys had a spell in their outdoor run and were very good and then we went for our walk. Pup found the remnants of two more pellets near the tree were he found the one yesterday but there is no sign of the tree being a regular roost tree – there was no liming from bird poo which you would see if the tree was a routine perch. I did see a large old nest but probably from a crow.
As we walked back up the road the wee man decided to go chase crows; I will put that episode in his training diary in detail but suffice to say here he found out after three go rounds that the crows got away. Another couple of experiences like that and he should generalise that chasing is not a productive behaviour.
Once I had resettled the boys back home I started my very own adventure. Taking my camera I decided to go on a raptor hunt … in other words to look for other signs of bird of prey activity to help with my pellet identification. I headed back to the estate and did find one holly tree in the drive way with some evidence of raptor feeding but nothing really exciting.
I went back to the little path I have used recently with the dogs and about half way down as I was looking round the tree with the primroses beside it a familiar wee dog arrived – it was Johnny’s wee jack russel terrier, Rab. Rab was very casual about saying hello but he knows me quite well; Johnny was more surprised since I was wearing a different coat and he hadn’t recognised me.
We sauntered on down the path chatting about wildlife and generally admiring the scenery. When we got to the bridge where I had seen the tree creeper we watched the wee birds for a while. I asked if I could tag along after that to see where some paths I hadn’t tried before went. We found mallard egg shells – broken and empty on the path. Contractors were down their first thing this morning so the crow had been egg stealing between this morning and mid afternoon.
We saw a lone curlew – my photos are not very good and a big circle of feathers left by something’s meal. Then Johnny pointed out these tracks whichwe decided were probably mink tracks:
We noted the likely hollow trees that the owl or sparrowhawk would make home. Johnny was under the impression that there is only a barn owl resident on the estate but just then an owl hooted with the classic owl call which belongs to the Tawny Owl. I did find an owl pellet under one of those trees and another part pellet. I knew it was an owl pellet because it had the harder case and a glossier appearance and it was quite a bit smaller than the one from yesterday. By the size I would say it is likely to be from a barn owl and most of the contents are long thin bones – quite different to yesterday’s.
We continued on seeing a couple of deer and then as we crossed a burn we saw this – beaver damage from about a year ago. The water level is so high because they have built a dam further down stream.
We walked up to the top of that field through some more woods to circle round the big house and up the edge of a field. We saw three roe deer take off and then two more. But we were lucky that one Roe Buck had stayed settled on an embankment so I got this picture as he decided to go join the others:
You can see his velvet covered little antlers growing too. This little guy is another Roe Buck taking a rest near to the woods where my quest started off:
So we parted and I arrived home after a very pleasurable stroll in the local countryside. Part of that 4 mile route I would never have found without a guide and part of it I would not dream of taking on my own unless I knew that the field gates were open. However it did help me find some other paths that I would take on my own so I shall be off to explore some more. I did not find any more specific raptor evidence but I shall keep looking. I called this Walk on the Wildside since I was meeting wild animals – including a lion loose in Angus …
I shall leave you with some macro shots of moss and lichens that I gathered in the early part of the walk: