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Monday 28 March 2011

A small disagreement

The first Pine Marten was enjoying a meal of peanuts when the second animal made an appearance. He obviously wasn't intending to share.

This is an instance where the delay time issue with the ProStalk trail camera is a real problem, as it would have been useful to have observed the outcome of this tussle.

Pine marten dispute from Ron Bury on Vimeo.

Friday 25 March 2011

Red Squirrel Mating Chase maybe?

Three days ago a Red Squirrel showed up at the current camera location which had a white tip to it's tail.

Nothing for three days other than Pine Marten, Badger and Fox at night, and then at about 1400 hrs today white tip was back and chasing about with a second Squirrel. This could well be a mating chase and if so, makes two females that I know have mated this spring and within 350 metres of each other.

Red squirrels in the area should do well this year due to good cone crops and a less harsh winter. Let's hope the spring and summer weather is not too wet.

Red Squirrel Chase from Ron Bury on Vimeo.

Japanese Knotweed (Reynoutria japonica)

Just across the pasture, south west from the old Guisachan House ruin is a short steep sided river gorge running to Guisachan Fall, known locally as Home Falls, and just short of the forest road to Plodda Falls and Cougie.

About a hundred metres in from the house end a patch of Japanese Knotweed has become established on the path side of the river.

Japanese Knotweed is a terribly invasive alien introduction from Japan which spreads rapidly to completely dominate large areas and is a member of the Dock family.

This patch is now spreading up the southern side of the gorge as well as along the river bank in both directions.

Below are images of this patch in winter and in late August when it is flowering.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Red Squirrel on trail camera

Two days ago I moved the trail camera to a new location in a dense stand of Norway and Sitka Spruce. There's a lot of Squirrel feeding sign on cones of both species so I'm hoping to get an idea of their movements before setting up with DSLR.
Today I wasn't disappointed.

Red Squirrel on trail camera from Ron Bury on Vimeo.

Sunday 20 March 2011

Badger digging for food under fallen tree

Badger hunting from Ron Bury on Vimeo.

This is a rather more sucessful close up with the trail camera using the diffuser and less masking over the LED array. The Badger was between 3 and 5 feet from the camera.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Glen Affric Squirrel Survey Map Update

I've just loaded this updated map to the
Glen Affric Squirrel Survey Page

My initial aim is to establish presence/absence of Red Squirrels across the area which is currently under recorded and officially listed as sparsely populated.

This is clearly not the case as shown by the areas that I have so far covered. In February I searched further south west beyond Hilton and Plodda Falls, and everywhere there is suitable habitat and food supply I have found recent evidence of occupation.

In the last couple of years there has been considerable felling of trees to the east of Hilton which has dispersed Squirrels into surrounding areas, particularly the mature Norway Spruce to the east of Plodda Falls.

2010 was my first year in Glen Affric so I can't make comparisons with previous observations but in this area Red Squirrels are predominately feeding on Norway Spruce and Larch.

Seasonal crops are Hazel and Beech in the autumn, plus green Norway Spruce, Douglas and Scots Pine cones throughout the summer.

Fungi, fresh shoots etc. are eaten when available and occasionally Sitka Spruce cones.

Squirrel presence is governed by suitable habitat, food availability and lack of disturbance and I believe that further observation will prove them to be present across the whole of the Glen Affric area where these conditions exist.

Unfortunately, because they spend a large proportion of their time in the crowns of Norway Spruce they are not often seen and Dreys are mostly invisible. They become more obvious in the autumn when there are young Squirrels dispersing and also when there is a general movement towards roadside hazel crops.

Images: Middle - Larch
            Bottom - Norway Spruce

Friday 18 March 2011

Hawke Prostalk PC2000 diffuser test

Still trying to cure the overexposure problem at close range.

This clip was taken with a diffuser over the LED infra-red light source plus a reduction of the light aperture but I've over cooked it a bit so will expose more of the LED's and try again.

The Badger was about 7 feet from the camera.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Muddy prints

Returned the trail camera to the Badger set this afternoon and checked the holes for activity.

All had sandy tracks on thawed and crusted snow.

There were Pine Marten tracks to the feeder not far from the sett and the feeder was empty so I gave it a refill. It's being used by Great Tits, Blue Tits, Wood mice and Pine Marten for certain but I've so far no evidence that Squirrels have visited, although there is some evidence of gnawing on one corner of the lid.
We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

More from the snowy north

Weather turned again on the weekend and went from no snow to over 30cm by Sunday morning. I think we must have had about 60cm overall but with the ground warmer it was thawing all the time.

Still snow on the ground today but it's going fast.

I moved the trail camera from the Badger Sett on Friday night and set it up on a Deer trail where it stayed until Sunday. The camera was over where the trail crossed a stream in a steep sided ravine and being about half way down, I had to struggle a bit to retrieve it. Didn't capture any Deer but the clip below shows an interesting transition back into winter.

I've been doing some more tests with the Prostalk PC2000 in preparation for writing a review which should appear in a couple of days or so, and tomorrow it returns to the Badger Sett to continue monitoring their activity patterns. We're fast approaching another full moon and with the nights getting shorter I'm interested to see if their evening emergence is getting any closer to dusk.

Badgers and Pine Martens

Last week before the return to winter weather. They're all turning up in pairs now.

Badgers at Sett from Ron Bury on Vimeo.
Pine Martens at Badger Sett from Ron Bury on Vimeo.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

The Press Association: MSPs face snare ban proposals vote

I was born and raised on a farm. I've worked in farming, forestry and game keeping and I did my share of hunting, shooting, fishing and trapping before I saw the light; so I don't want any one telling me I don't understand what I'm talking about.

Snares, along with all outlawed forms of trapping are cruel, indiscriminate and barbaric, no matter how carefully they are used; and have no place in an enlightened society.

Those people who continue to advocate the use of snares should be ashamed of themselves; and I'm sure that if they spent a night with a snare wrapped around their neck they would have a different opinion in the morning.

There are humane methods for catching and controlling animals when it's absolutely necessary, and I do stress the word necessary.

It's unfortunate that the human animal still doesn't seem to be able to respect and tolerate other life forms, without feeling the need to destroy everything that is an inconvenience.

I sincerely hope the Scottish Government does the decent thing this time and finally bans the use of snares.

The Press Association: MSPs face snare ban proposals vote
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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.