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Sunday 24 April 2011

Framed example of an A4 Print from my Wildlife collection

I've just loaded this example of one of my A4 bordered prints framed in a 30mm Oak Moulding.

If you go to the Prints for Sale page you can open the image to approximately full size in a new window.

At the moment this is just to illustrate how a print looks when it's framed but I may also offer the prints ready framed sometime in the future.

I'll welcome any questions or comments about the print collection and any framing preferences you may have.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Ticks - The real forest monster

The season for Ticks has arrived and for anyone spending time in highland forests they're almost impossible to avoid. The two adults illustrated above are well fed and measure about 11mm x 6mm. The one on the left is viewed from the underside and the right hand one from above. Their life cycle goes from egg to adult in three stages, increasing in size from less than a millimetre to about 2 to 3mm as adults, with the female being the larger.

There are a number of ways in which you can minimise coming into contact with them and if you do get bitten, remove the offending tick as soon as possible to try and avoid contracting Lyme disease (Borreliosis).

For information about all aspects of avoidance and removal go to

Forestry Commission Scotland - Conserving Scotland’s Red Squirrels - Red squirrel conservation priorities and key actions

Forestry Commission Scotland - Conserving Scotland’s Red Squirrels - Red squirrel conservation priorities and key actions

The FC are starting to release information about their joint plans with SNH for longer term Red Squirrel conservation in Scotland.

Key issues are Grey Squirrel control, Red Squirrel stronghold sites, wider habitat management and habitat effects from planning and development.

Information is a bit sketchy at present so we'll see how it develops. Stronghold areas, as I understand it, will primarily consist of small seeded conifers and, in my opinion, will need to contain a much wider age range and fragmentation of species such as Scots Pine, Larch, Norway Spruce and even Sitka than is currently practised, if it is to be successful.
The issue of larger seeded species attracting Greys is a potential problem as species such as Hazel are a natural part of a Red Squirrel's diet and its habitat.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Taking the camera for a spring walk

Hazy with sunny spells and comfortably warm so I resisted the temptation to be a grease monkey and decided to take the camera for a forest walk instead.

Left around 0800 with the intention of being back in a couple of hours which quickly turned into over four.

I parked the van at the bottom of the spruce plantations and set out on a clockwise circuit into the breeze on the off chance I might see Roe Deer but mostly looking for Squirrels.

Feeding signs like this are every where in the Norway Spruce (Picea abies) but although I stopped and watched for a while in several places, I didn't see any Squirrels.

The canopy is about 75% covered with dense crowns  and Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) are very good at staying out of sight.

The image left shows cone remains from ground feeding but if they see you first they're up the back of the nearest tree trunk and instantly invisible.

On the top edge of the stand was a solitary Grey Willow (Salix cineria) which was absolutely alive with Buff-tailed Bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) taking advantage of this early supply of pollen.

While I was watching the Bumblebees a small group of Great Tits (Parus major)
invaded the tree. I don't know if they were attracted by the Bees but I didn't see them take any and as fast as they arrived they were gone again.

Larch needles are developing fast now and turning the trees a bright, fresh green.

I think this is Dunkeld Larch (Larix x eurolepsi which is the hybrid between European Larch (L. decidua) and Japanese Larch (L. kaempferi).

The basic difference between the cones is that with L. decidua the scales are flat, with L. kaempferi they are out-turned, looking a bit like a rose from above, while L.x eurolepsis is somewhere between the two.

Later, I was sitting on a stump just below the top forest track, spying for Squirrels and noticed that water in a small pool not far down the bank was intermittently quivering.

Curiosity got the better of me and on investigating I found this tightly packed gathering of Common Frog (Rana temporaria) Tadpoles.

These have been out of the egg sacs for maybe a couple of weeks now and I'm not sure if it's for warmth, protection or both that keeps them together at this stage.

Further on was an open bank area covered in the dried straw of last year's grasses and crawling with what I thought were Wolf Spiders.

Not being certain I sent an email to Martin at Wildlife and Countryside Services who in turn forwarded it to Richard at who replied and I quote
  "It’s either Pardosa silvicultrix or Pardosa lugubris (commonly referred to as wolf spiders). The two aren’t easily separated – even with a preserved specimen. They can be separated by their courtship display apparently! For many years we assumed the British specimens were lugubris, but it was later discovered that most populations are silvicultrix, however the real lugubris also occurs at some locations".   
Well I did ask.

The beautifully delicate flowers of the Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) are everywhere now. 

I should point out that when I'm referring to seasonal events most things I record are at least a week or two behind similar occurrences at lower altitudes, nearer the coast or further south.

Late morning found me sitting under a Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) being serenaded by a Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Eventually he stopped singing and, after giving me this rather quizzical stare, he turned his attentions to hunting.

Moments later he took a dive from his perch and collected an insect from nearly thirty feet away on the ground. The prey was large enough for me to see it in his beak as he returned to a perch further round the tree but I marvel at their ability to see a target in ground vegetation at that distance.

My thoughts were also turning to food at this point so I headed home.

Monday 18 April 2011

Red Deer Hind spooked by infra-red LEDs on trail camera.

I moved the trail camera from the Badger Sett a few days ago to investigate a couple of deer trails and this clip is one of the early results.

This Red Deer Hind was heading towards the trail camera in early morning light; which wasn't bright enough to prevent the infra-red illumination from switching on. Like Foxes, Deer seem to be made very nervous on sight of the red glow from the LEDs.

Badger chasing Pine Marten

Sorry for the recent lack of posts. I've had a visitor for a couple of weeks and I'm also getting the van ready for it's MOT.

This recent trail cam clip from the Badger sett shows that Badgers don't always tolerate Pine martens.

This Pine Marten was close to the sett entrance and the Badger chased it away. I think there may be cubs in this sett and the adult is never far away at the moment.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Argyll News: Greens hold Labour to account on snaring

Argyll News: Greens hold Labour to account on snaring
"Snaring is a cruel and indiscriminate substitute for proper rural estate management, and both Labour and the SNP have struggled to free themselves from the influence of the snaring mafia."
To forcibly suspend an animals liberty, hours if not days before suffering and death is not just cruel and indiscriminate, it is also morally wrong; and judging by comments like

"och aye we can go back to gassing them or what about reintroducing mixie ?"
it's obvious to me that some people just don't have a proper understanding of how the natural balance can work if allowed. Assuming the reference is to Rabbits, they are better preyed on by Foxes, Badgers, Stoats, Pine marten et.c. An easy solution which keeps Rabbit populations in check, diverts the attention of predators away from game and domestic stock and allows a healthier biodiversity to be appreciated by those who are bright enough to enjoy it.

I'm disgusted by Politicians who haven't got the balls to stand up for something which is morally right. And what on earth have wind turbines got to do with animal cruelty and suffering.

If the Greens get MSP’s elected we will have wind turbines mostly standing still all over our beautiful countryside in Scotland.
This comment was obviously made by someone who never uses electricity in a world running out of traditional fuel sources. Another NIMBY!!!

Sunday 3 April 2011

New prints for sale

I've at long last made a start at populating the prints for sale page. There are three available at present with a lot more to come as quickly as I can manage.

You can view and buy on line from the Prints for Sale page.
I hope you enjoy them.

Who's living in this hole

At another forest location is an old disused Badger Sett which I've been keeping an eye on, and recently there has been some fresh digging at one of the entrance holes. This last week I decided to stake it out with the trail camera and see what might be visiting.

On the second night the hole was investigated about two hours apart by a Pine Marten and a Badger. Both animals entered the hole briefly but neither stayed for more than a few minutes.

There were no false triggers on the camera to suggest that anything had exited the hole and disappeared during the camera delay time and neither animal stayed long enough to indicate anything other than a passing interest.

For the moment I can only assume that the fresh digging is exploratory. Curiously a Fox was caught fleetingly at the edge of the light, just after 9pm on the third night, and as is usual with Foxes, was spooked by the IR. The slightest suggestion of anything out of place and the local Foxes just melt away. Again nothing to suggest it was using this hole as I would have expected it to be out earlier if it had been exiting the hole after laying up. Mind you, I still have a question mark over this as the delay time on the camera would miss a fast exit.

Just after 3pm on the second day the camera was triggered by Chaffinch's feeding on the ground around the entrance. Suddenly they were spooked by something and took off in a great hurry after which a wing briefly appeared in the right hand side of the frame. I've looked at this several times and I'm fairly certain it was a hunting Sparrowhawk but there's not enough visible to make posting the video clip worthwhile.

It did leave me wondering how often trail cameras catch this sort of event, especially as in this case, in a confined forest environment.

I've now moved the camera back to the other Sett where I'm hoping young will emerge during April but will check this hole from time to time.

Below is a brief clip of the Marten and Badger.

Who's living here from Ron Bury on Vimeo.

Friday 1 April 2011

Using a ProStalk PC2000 Trail Camera indoors

More on using the ProStalk at close quarters without over exposure.

I'm still experimenting with this and have found that battery charge state exacerbates this issue so that a filter/diffuser that works OK when the batteries are fully charged will progressively reduce the light too much as they are discharged.

It works for a while though.
See this link for another users solution.
Making the Net Work....: Using a Trail Camera indoors
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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.