Saturday, January 31, 2015

Where have all the croci gone?

Although weather-wise it doesn't feel as though winter has ever fully arrived, there are already signs of spring. I'm not stupid...well, stupid enough then, to think that we are out of the woods yet though. As I write, today is the last day of January and although February is a short month, dramas can still
unfold...'when winter comes howling in' as the song goes.
I found this quote that I liked: 'February, and the air's so balmy snowdrops and crocuses might be fooled into early blooming. Then, the inevitable blizzard will come, blighting our harbingers of spring...' 

Well this year the crocuses have already bloomed in January, but more of that later.


Wishing to find little projects to see me through the darkest days, I set about cleaning out the garden nest boxes and decided to install a little black and white video camera in one of them in the hope of watching blue-tits nesting come springtime...







You can see the white wiring installed to the top left of the left-hand photo. The right photo shows the little camera inside the box.

The wiring is then linked to a monitor inside my studio...

And this is the view I get of the nest-box...

No guarantee that this will be the chosen nest-box of course but fingers crossed-it has been used in previous years. 


  
After a dodgy start Thursday 29th January turned into a sunny but cold winter's day and so, eager to take advantage of the rare good weather, I loaded the car with my camera gear, plenty of warm clothing and a flask of hot coffee and headed for Tonbridge. 
My destination was the castle at the top end of town. By the time I arrived at around 11am we had blue skies...



The castle itself looked majestic set against the blue sky...




There were plenty of pigeons along the footpaths,eagerly waiting to be fed...
















And a robin that was obviously used to people and seemed quite friendly...



A female blackbird searching for scraps amongst the leaf-litter...





The best fun was watching the squirrels though. They were busy feeding on whatever they could source, probably seeking out their caches too and it was fantastic just to sit in the sunshine on one of the wooden park benches and observe them...











At one spot where I was watching them, I saw one particular grey that seemed to be spending quite a bit of time amongst the crocus...




It dawned on me eventually that it was actually picking and eating the crocus flowers...






I suppose I should have realised that grey squirrels being mainly herbivorous would eat not only nuts and seeds but also berries, and flower buds. I read up on this behaviour when I got home and found that when food is scarce, they will also eat insects, birds eggs, small rodents and even nestlings.
It turns out that crocus flowers are a real favourite with grey squirrels...



That was my very pleasant couple of hours spent at the castle this week and I headed for the car park with painfully cold hands, but a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment that fully compensated for any discomfort.

I resolved to re-visit on a warmer day and try for some more shots of the squirrels, but this time to try and take my time and capture some of them more animated...


Until the next time...



4 comments:

  1. Fingers crossed the birds use the box with the camera in, we have two nest boxes, never been used. One year we had Blackbirds in the Ivy on the shed, the Magpies would come around six every day to rade the nest, me and hubby took it in turns to get up and stand guard, till the birds fledged....
    Just love the squirrel photos...
    Amanda xxx

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  2. Will be interesting to see what happens in the nest box!
    Cracking photos of the local wildlife, especially those squirrel photos. I'm amazed you have croci out already and I had no idea the pesky squirrels ate them. Fun to see in public areas but probably not in your own garden. Lovely post, JJ. :-)

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  3. Beautiful pictures of Squirrels. Nothing beats watching those playful creatures :-)

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  4. Can't wait now to see if you get some residents in the camera box. How exciting!
    Used to live in Tonbridge and loved the park there. Spent many a happy hour exploring the various habitats but back then, being a teenager, although interested in nature, I wasn't quite so passionate as I am now, and I'm sure I'd find so much more if I looked again!
    The squiggles are gorgeous. Used to be a white one around too. They were always entertaining and incredibly confiding if you had a few nuts for them.

    As ever, they're a stunning set of images. Love the pigeons with their iridescence.

    Been quite cold here. No snow thankfully (except on the surrounding hills) but frozen puddles and ponds haven't thawed in days now.

    Keep warm! :-)

    Mx

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