Over the last week, our fox has made regular visits to the compost heap come rabbit warren. The fox marked its territory as it left. It must have a route – it walks most nights on the prowl for food. Being a country animal, I suspect the fox has to work harder looking for food, no scraps are thrown out to feed on, it has to survive on fresh meat caught by its own guile and ingenuity.
I have yet to see a rabbit and fox in the same short segment of film. The rabbits certainly do know when to disappear. Thankfully, this fox has become less worried about the infrared light from the camera.
We did not see the fox this week. I hope he/she will be back (along with the polecat and a badger or two). We also had a visit by the night time cat prowler. We still don’t know where this beautiful cat comes from. Would we recognise it in the day time? The black and white infrared pictures make it hard to identify, although R thinks it’s a ginger tabby with white socks.
After the cold and wet weather, we had a break with sun and a warm 12C temperature. We decided to go for a walk in the local area and drove over to Stowe Gardens. It is that time of year, Snowdrop season. R had booked our arrival time online a couple of days before. We arrived and walked down from the car park. The NT shop, restaurant and loos were of course closed. A small van was selling coffee and light lunches at the entrance. (We had already stocked up with Ginsters Cornish pasty from our local shop.)
A longish walk down the hill to the gardens, where our names were checked. The loos were here, a row of Portaloos. We enjoyed a three-hour walk, with a well-deserved lunch break of Pasty. The Snowdrops were somewhat a disappointment, there were clusters of them, but not the huge waves of them there were a few years back.
We met a man and wife taking pictures of the snowdrops with a background of the Temple of Ancient Virtue. He was using a 4×5 Walker Camera. I believe he could adjust the angle of the photographic plate to reduce converging verticles and change the plane of focus. At least he doesn’t have hundreds of images to choose from when doing his final edits.
It has been several weeks since the last Secret Life of The Compost Heap post video. There has been a lack of subjects. I moved the camera to a new location for a week and recorded nothing but rabbits. Back at the compost heap, and the odd fox and badger. It was cold, so maybe they were keeping out of the cold, snuggled down somewhere.
After filming a few scenes of the rabbit hole, I repositioned the camera to look to the left of the rabbit hole where there is a wildlife path. Sure enough, badgers and foxes passed by. The foxes walking by and investigating the second entrance to the rabbit burrow. The foxes are rather camera-shy and can see the Infra-Red light. You can see one small fox being very hesitant. Alas, the Polecat has not been seen again. One domestic cat comes by regularly.
During the day one of our pheasants came by walking towards the bird feeders. You can see him run back a little later. Somebody must have opened the doorway to the house and scared him.
There is a short scene with a little field mouse. Cute.
The disappearing Polecat (Mustela putorius), hungry fox (Vulpes vulpes), Badger (Meles meles), Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Field Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)
Where has our polecat (Mustela putorius) gone? We have not seen it for over a week. For several days it came out and played, and now he has gone. I start this video with a short recap of last week’s video. There is the polecat rolling on the ground, he spots the fox and then with fear backs into the hole. You see the fox smelling the ground around where the polecat had rolled. Mr Fox then leaves, coming back at 7.55 in the morning and going straight underground. The new video images start, and you see Mr Fox rush out at 13.47.
We never saw the polecat again; we fear Mr Fox has had a polecat breakfast.
During the rest of the week, Mr Fox and Brock the Badger made appearances, including a very wet Badger during the overnight rain.
A beautiful (??) cat paid the compost heap a fleeting visit. We have seen her before, we don’t know which Humes she owns.
I moved the camera to the other hole last night, not much other than rabbits, and a cute mouse. I removed the card just as the snow had started, and there is an image of a rabbit in the snowfall.
For the last week, we have been trying other locations for the camera trap to find where our animals were visiting.
The first area was nearby the garden pond, I spied a well-trodden trail and set the camera up there. Mr Fox would run through here coming and going, possibly leaving our neighbours chickens and looking at the compost heap. The next area in the garden was by the woodshed, this showed rabbits and nothing more. Mr Fox though seen heading in that direction did not appear to visit these rabbits.
The final new location was by the field pond. I tried a couple of locations, looking in at rabbit holes. We mainly saw rabbits and brief glimpses of the fox as it was making its way quickly from one area to another. The odd bird would also appear during the daylight. After a complaint by one viewer about the lack of rabbits, I have included a rabbit. It is said that in nature counts, the rarest animals and birds are indeed the most populous. People count the rare species and ignore the pesky rabbits and pigeons
After this, we went back to the compost heap and were treated to some excellent shots of the polecat and fox. In one shot you can see the polecat seeing/hearing the fox and quickly reversing back into the burrow. The fox is keenly interested in the scent of the polecat, sniffing where the polecat had been rolling and examining the rabbit warren.
One disturbing image was the fox going into the hole where the polecat lives just before dawn, and not materialising. Thankfully there are several exits in the compost heap. Maybe he exited somewhere else. I could do with a couple more camera traps to stake out all the other major holes in the compost heap. Did the fox stay over during the day, or did he leave by another hole?
We think we have a couple of foxes at least. There are different muzzle markings and leg markings. One at least is a male because on a previous video you can see him cocking his leg. All the foxes look fit, nimble and quick and don’t hang around for long. They do alas see the camera trap, but do seem to be getting used to it now.