Roe deer, lambs, kestrel – red kite – buzzard, slow-worms, dragonflies and some moths.
Spring is now well progressed, the countryside is bathed in green, the dandelions have given way to buttercups and our road verges are swathed in oxeye daisies and cow parsley. Assorted animals are having a good time. There are plenty of earthworms for badgers, forage for deer, plenty of voles and road kills for the birds of prey and so many invertebrates feeding on nectar and each other at the lower end of the food chain.
Every evening we put out the automatic camera traps and every morning we check them to see what is around. A surprise was this splendid Roe Buck with a fine set of antlers (image 1). He is up against stock fencing and it is clear how this fencing constrains our larger wildlife in their movements around the countryside. I am told that Muntjac deer have appeared recently and so we shall be looking out for them.
So good to look out of our windows and walk the fields and see Lambs gambolling in the fields (image 2) and to hear the ewes calling them in if we get too close.
I set out of the house to post a letter but was stopped in my tracks by a Kestrel hovering close over the village green (image 3). Back quickly indoors to grab the camera, change the lens, and see if it was still there, and it was. Seldom do I find a kestrel so close and in good light and performing for the camera. Kestrels ae identified from other local birds of prey by their smaller size, hovering, and long narrow tail (although this one has its tail feathers spread). Buzzards and red kites are about and swifts, swallows and chiff-chaffs are amongst those back from migration.
Following the tractor as it cut grass for silage off Ridge Common Lane were many Red Kites presumably looking for small animals escaping from the cutter blades, here is just one of them (image 4). While watching the kites, I noticed another bird of prey and on examining the photographs found it was a Buzzard (image 5).
Slow-worms enjoy the warmth of the sun on our wildlife tins. As a prelude to mating, the male grips his mate as in this picture and we look forward to lots of little slow-worms later in the year (image 6).
We have had two different damselflies foraging around our pond. Here is the male Large Red damselfly (image 7) and the Common Blue damselfly (image 8). While walking the fields to the north of us we stopped to look in a large water tub to see if the goldfish was still there, but Mary spotted some immense dragonfly larvae and then freshly emerged dragonflies that appear to be the impressive Emperor Dragonfly (image 9).
Warm nights after rain bring out the snails and slugs. One of the commonest at the moment is the White-lipped Snail with its distinctive black and yellow spiral markings (image 10). Snails have two sets of retractable tentacles, the upper two tentacles have eye spots sensitive to light and the lower two are olfactory and used to smell.
Finally, May is a good time to look for moths coming to light at night. Amongst those in the last few days have been the wonderful Puss Moth with its furry cat-like face (image 11) and the strangely shaped Pebble Hook-tip (image 12) and Oak Hook-tip (image 13). Finally another unusually marked moth, the Scorched-wing (image 14). Such a shame that these wonderful moths are seldom seen.