It has been a cold and wet April which seems to have delayed occupation of the nest boxes in the garden. Jackdaws were, as usual, the first to begin with one pair in the red squirrel box having six eggs and later another couple occupied the tawny owl box with three eggs todate. Only one of the smaller boxes has been occupied, by a bluetit who has spent over a month preparing the nest. She visits every day and tinkers with the nest but as yet she has laid no eggs. Because of the time she has taken to build it this must be one of the most luxurious nests in the area. A bumble bee tried to take up occupation this morning but was soon evicted by the indignant owner.
There are young blackbirds in the yard and two families of mallard in the garden. Both are now down to five ducklings each having first appeared with nine and twelve respectively.
At last some of my plants are beginning to grow. Around the small pond the angelica is on the move. Apart from being structural it produces those lovely heads of tiny green flowers which attract hoverflies and bees in the summer. Nearby another structural plant is waking up; Gunnera ‘giant rhubarb’ which is a native of South America. In no time at all the small pond will disappear behind greenery.
During the winter a trench was dug through the garden for my fibre broadband, to enable me to stream my cameras. At times I also had up to 50 mallard visitors, for the free corn. This has really messed up parts of the pond surroundings.
So in an attempt to recover, yesterday I bought some wetland plants from C.J. Wildlife, and they arrived today. Purple Loosestrife and Blue-Eyed Grass. These plants were well packed and looked healthy on unpacking and were modestly priced.
Now all I need is the right conditions to plant them.
Exploring the web for wildlife camera streams I find very few that have sound. Yes, in some cases, it is not practical because of background noise, traffic and similar problems, but some of the time it is ignorance of the importance of the sound track. Even in professional wildlife filming, until relatively recently, sound was an after thought, I am sure you can remember tv documentaries where the sound track was an obvious add on.
Let’s leave the professionals behind and only consider us amateurs streaming cameras from our gardens, just like me. Some cameras have a built in microphone but with others you will need to add an external mic. You can pick up external CCTV mics. for just a few pounds from Ebay.
These microphones need a power supply and as much protection from the weather as do the cameras. In fact even more so since wind noise can be a major problem. However with a little ingenuity and a few odds and ends this can be acheived.
This post is not intended to be a tutorial on how to capture and stream sound but a call to arms to all those with silent webcams.
Visitors to the feeders have include siskin, see above left, goldfinch, above right, chaffinch, greenfinch, dunnock, nuthatch, starling, blackbird and of course jackdaw. I have seen an odd fieldfare in the garden as well as a couple of moorhen who are becoming regulars at the pond. There are still about a dozen or so mallard about everyday – nothing like the 50 or so I was getting earlier this year. No doubt most are now seeking nest sites in the surrounding countryside. Even the house has had it’s share of visitors with three field mice caught in a live trap during one night. I released them into a great heap of brashings which I keep at the bottom of the garden for the wildlife.
The nest boxes are now getting regular visits from the tit family and from a nuthatch. I even spotted a starling with its head in one of the boxes they have alreading filled a artificial swallows nest with material, see below. I have it under the eaves of the house and in each of the last two years a family of spotted flycatchers has been raised there.
The curlews are returning to the hills but I have yet to hear or see any lapwing display. There is no frogspawn in the upper pond yet, maybe because of the ducks.
Knarsdale Nature will now be my main website with South Tyne Nature held in reserve. The link to the live cameras will operate from 1st. March, during daylight hours.
This winter, apart from the usual birds and mammals, I have had up to 50 mallard visting the pond, taking advantage of the free food, and an occasional solitary moorhen. Recently, in preparation for spring, I have been doing maintenance on the bird and mammal boxes making them ready for the breeding season. Plans are afoot for this summer, when the butterflies & bees visit the buddlea in the garden, to have them viewable on the live stream. I also have bats roosting in my loft, which I think are common pipistrelle, so I hope to have video and modified audio available on the website, live or otherwise.