So, day one of Springwatch ‘home alone’ as my girlfriend, Laura spends the week at RSPB Ynys-hir helping out behind the scenes of the show. I watched the live broadcast on BBC2, particularly impressed with the underground mole footage and the people with 11 young foxes in their garden.
So, having made myself the sort of ‘man home alone’ dinner that would have made Laura wince, and inspired by the show, it was time to strike back and see what I could find for myself.
One thing that we just don’t have this year in Cambridgeshire is many young birds. It was good to see that in Wales there are nestboxes with baby nuthatches starring on the TV and others, but in my rural garden, I have only seen one brood of dunnocks and two of blackbird this year.
We may not have birds in our nestboxes, but the other evening I had a surprise when I heard a buzzing sound inside one that didn’t sound quite right for baby tits. Suddenly, bees started flying out - tree bumblebees and a species unrecorded in this country a few years ago. Several were clustered around the entrance hole again this evening, buzzing away. look closely and you can just make them out below.
My garden is adjacent to a very big field and beyond that is the River Ouse, so I often see what comes flying up and down the valley. Things got going with a total of six little egrets flying along it to a colony in a nearby heronry, but the light soon began to fade, so it was time for the evening shift to take over.
You might have read the badger finding guide in the current issue of Birds. This is one animal I have become obsessed with over the last year after I discovered our new house provides amazing opportunities to watch them.
I set myself up next to the bottom hedge and waited. They were late out tonight, but the badger parade began with one of the regulars coming to the food I put out. It’s funny how the first Springwatch broadcast of the year brings something special for me – last year, it was the first time I’d seen a badger from my garden. This year, it was another treat from my humbug-striped neighbours...
Following some lively activity by the sett with playfighting among a group of three and two others feeding happily for a good half an hour, I was very happy with my efforts. But it was well after 10 when the highlight occurred as three badgers came down the track together – and two of them were cubs! They weren’t quite brave enough to come to food, and eventually scampered off at high speed. It was nearly half past 10 now, so a real late shift.
Feeling chuffed with such a good show from my badgers – I’d seen at least eight in total during my evening vigil – I had to content myself with one fox, rather than the 13 on Springwatch and glimpses of two barn owls rather than the sort of views on screen this evening from the nest cam.
Wake up call
The eventful night ended with an unwanted animal encounter when I woke up at half 3 in the heat to find, and hear, one of our cats, Alfie, balancing precariously on the window ledge, having slipped out of the window I’d opened earlier because of the heat. Then ensued what must have been a ghastly sight for my neighbours of me clambering out the window, hanging from the roof in my boxer shorts and finally grabbing the wayward feline one handed. It had been quite a night. The text message report from the set of Springwatch was “A really good day, but very tiring”. You should try late night badger vigil – and a middle of the night cat rescue Laura...
Alfie says "I love you Michaela..."