Mouse-trap

mouse

Yesterday I received a new mouse trap and already today, with the help of a chocolate cookie, I caught at least one of the culprits that have been plundering my store cupboard.

A cute thing, probably a field mouse or maybe even a dormouse. I promptly took him outside and released it from its overnight incarceration. It seemed unperturbed by its ordeal as I had expected wild shrieks overnight but thankfully it made no sounds at all. I returned the trap to the cupboard.

A short while later I heard the trap go off again and looked inside the cupboard. The trap had clearly been pushed around the floor, which had triggered the release mechanism but it was empty. Had they already cottoned on ?

No, later in the afternoon another one found its way into the trap, however it looked suspiciously like the first one. This could become a bit of a game. This time the chocolate cookie was almost completely eaten. They are a bit morish, I must say.

Update 26.10.2019

Overnight another mouse was caught in the trap, making it three in two days. It looked slightly different to the others, being smaller, slimmer and more nervous, but otherwise it was the same type of field mouse.

I replaced the trap with a new biscuit and in the afternoon I inspected the trap again. The biscuit was gone. WOW! somehow a mouse had entered the cage and dragged a pretty large cookie out without releasing the trap door. Not a crumb in sight and no sign of the biscuit. These mice are no fools.

Autumn

It’s a mild autumn day and perfect for a stroll among the falling leaves. The squirrels are out in force today and the first one I encounter is just a few feet from my doorway. After that I see several more collecting nuts ready for their winter hibernation.

squirrel4

It is still so mild that even butterflies are out and I also see another humming hawk moth but fail to photograph it. However while sorting through my images I came across two nice photos I had overlooked in my eagerness to post the previous humming hawk moth photos.

Meanwhile I reflect on today’s welcome news that eleven supreme court judges have unanimously ruled against Boris Johnson. I think it is the first time I have felt any relief since the start of the whole Brexit saga. It is a great day for the rule of law, if not democracy.

squirreltwo

Just minding his own business … zen-like.

squirrelone

‘Nuts whole hazel nuts’ … a mouthful of nuts ready for winter

hhmoth8

The humming hawk moth close up from my last encounter.

hhmoth9

Note the particularly long proboscis.

butterfly

A red admiral butterfly seen for the first time this year.

jay

A jay finds a convenient wooden handrail to perch on.

sheep

… and sheep are doing their best to keep the grass trimmed on the hillsides.

The Zone

cat

Have you ever noticed how little animals and birds do. Look at your average dog or cat, they sleep all night and then for much of the day. Notice a field of sheep or ducks beside a pond, they too spend much of the day sleeping and I am pretty sure they are not suffering from insomnia.

You have to ask yourself what are we humans doing wrong. We dash around the world polluting the environment, provoke wars or else we spend hours frustrated waiting in traffic queues, checkins and such like.

Is it not time to rethink what we are doing and where we are headed. Why are people working their butts off just to buy things that give a momentary buzz. What’s with all these famous, rich, celebrities living in those huge mansions you see on YouTube. Empty mansions, spotless, sterile, never lived in. Too big even for three generations of one family. OK, so some are investments and some are historic buildings being preserved. However, even your average middle class family own a large house that will soon only echo to the hollow sounds of the children who once lived there.

I read that algorithms will soon replace most of what we humans do. No profession is untouched. Even art! A computer that composes music has already dumbfounded music critics. They could not tell the difference between real Bach and this computer that had been programmed to create Bach style music. The speed of change is so great now that even educating youngsters for specific professions is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Never mind, there is always Weezer.

Weezer – Islands in the sun.

Sheep n lambs

sheep1

About a hundred sheep were grazing on the hill today. We lost two recently to a wolf but these were relatively safe being protected by an electric fence, which gave me a couple of shocks as a reminder. Just one of the many daily hazards a nature photographer must endure. An electric fence is a simple and relatively cheap measure to protect them.

sheep3

There were plenty of lambs all sporting the latest in fashionable colourful earbuds. Meanwhile the glorious summer weather continues and it looks like warming up too in the coming days.

sheep4

Listening to Dire Straits by the look of that face.

sheep2

sheep5

Nature today

Well, yesterday really.

It is quite humid today but pleasantly warm with a bit of wind so I take my camera out for a stroll through the forest. I am actually homing in on the buzzards, which are hanging out in nearby trees and hope to get a decent photo. As it turns out, I neither see them nor hear them.

A poor shot I captured early this morning (see below) does not look like a typical buzzard as there seems to be too much white and the wing feathers look more like an eagle’s than a buzzard, so I am wondering what else it might be. I have seen red kites here but they are easy to spot with their forked tails and distinctive wings. It’s clearly not a kite. Any ideas?

buzzard1

I descend halfway down the mountain on a pathway overgrown with ferns. The birds are silent, it’s just after lunch and probably not the best time to venture out in search of wildlife. However once I reach the dirt track a butterfly catches my attention. Is it a butterfly or a moth, I am not sure but it is certainly not one I have seen before.

but2

Moth or butterfly?

It has dramatic black and white markings on top with red underneath. I decide to focus on butterflies but miss several interesting red ones, which could have been tortoiseshells or the one above. There were some small white butterflies and the ever present brimstones.

but5

 

but4

These very small blue butterflies are out and about today, but being so small they present quite a challenge to photograph. Still, I am given ample opportunities and manage a few photos.

blue

They have iridescent blue wings on the top side and underneath a more traditional butterfly pattern.

blue2

blue3

On my return leg I disturb an animal. I can tell by the noise as it flees that it is something interesting and not just a squirrel or mouse, it’s too loud for that and not loud enough to be a deer or wild boar. I peer into the undergrowth not expecting to see much but then I see it. A fleeting glimpse of a small short haired animal about the size of a small dog, rust coloured with short ears and legs, scampering away. I wonder what it could be as I have never seen such an animal before.

redstart

I was going to ignore this cute young black restart but it seemed determined to remain on the log so I took some shots anyway and it posed nicely, changing its head position, just like a photo model. Black redstarts are more common here than sparrows and no wonder they usually have five chicks and two broods a year is not unusual.

fieldfare

Finally, this was probably a young fieldfare taken a few weeks ago in the valley. There seem to be many young birds around at present, rather late in the year I feel. Even the ducks last week had chicks that looked just a few days old. Is this the result of climate change or just my imagination.

Rambino

ewe-lamb1c

I name this lamb ‘Rambino’ as it already has prominent horns indicating it to be male and Rambino makes a nice female name in case I am wrong and who cares anyway in today’s gender less world.

LAS_9059

A lamb and two ewes … on the lookout.

LAS_9069

Say cheese please … A family pose on a cold, wet April day.:)

UPDATE 7th May

This happy family pic is no more. I received news today and a photo of a badly mauled ewe, which looks to have been attacked by a wolf. As to the other ewe and lamb, I have yet to hear about them. The photo is too gruesome to show or even describe for that matter but it certainly looks like it has been devoured by some animal and that can only mean a wolf.

 

Spring surprise

lamb

I was surprised to see a new addition this morning to our flock of two old ewes. Quite an achievement considering the old ram died sometime ago. The gestation period for sheep is around 5 months, so I was really not expecting any new lambs. The proud ewes were both very alert and protective of their new member, which looks to be at least one week old and could well be a much needed ram replacement.

The old ram obviously gave his best in his last fling.

 

Chasing squirrels

squirrel

Not one of my best photos of a squirrel, it must be said, but I ventured out today to capture an image to mark what must be the warmest mid winter’s day ever recorded. With clear blue skies, no wind and temperatures easily reaching 17C degrees that has to be contrasted with the normal winter’s temperature here, which is usually somewhere between zero and minus 15C degrees! There were plenty of red squirrels out tempting me this way and that but a decent photo of one eluded me and this was probably the best one out of a very bad bunch.

Anyway the squirrels clearly seem to think it’s Spring having come out of their winter hibernation and once again there were a few butterflies and other insects making the most of the fine weather. As the end of March usually marks the end of winter up here I think it is too early to stow my winter gear away.

Early Spring

ewe1

sheep1

As the temperature reaches 16C degrees and the last snow recedes from the hillside it feels like Spring. Even butterflies and insects are out and the sheep return to grazing on grass. Clouds of pollen are released into the air from ‘hazelnut’ trees with yellow catkin-like pods. It all seems too good to be true but I am pretty sure we have not seen the last of the snow, still it makes a pleasant intermission.

sheep2

sheep3

Ewes

ewex3

The snow arrives on cue and these ewes wait patiently for breakfast.

ewex4

A bale of hay a day is enough to keep them from hunger. Talking of which … I came across the Ketogenic (high fat – low carb) diet the other day and being very much a sandwich, potato and pasta person it made me question my own diet. However just two days later this diet was debunked on the news, apparently because 80% of UK citizens are not getting enough fibre. It made me think about the sheep’s diet, especially in winter when everything is snow covered, as all they eat is hay! No fruit, veg or diary products for their balanced diet. Yet sheep are basically no different to humans in that they are made up of bone, blood, skin, fat and hair, all of which need nutrients. How do they do it? They live outside in sub zero temperatures, only eating hay and yet they thrive. Now that is a mystery. Obviously there is a profound reason why humans consume just about anything unlike animals, birds and insects.

ewex1

These mountain sheep are in their element with long woolly coats to keep warm.

ewex2