Sunday, April 27, 2008


All the "B's" then.

B is for Bluebells and Bix.
Anna and I decided to go and gawp (and take a few photies) of the explosion of purple that has occurred in the woods of the Chilterns over the past week - probably not quite as magnificent as last year's display, but stunning anyway!
So thats the B for Bluebells then (and just for good measure we photographed these Bluebells at Bix (in oxfordshire) .... click on the photo above to enlarge (or as normal, visit the "New Warren".

B is for Bucks Badger.
After the Bluebells, we drove to a secret wood in Buckinghamshire, quite remote, but I wood I know well and have surveyed before for a local wildlife group, many moons ago.
It was in this wood that I had the immense pleasure of watching a whole family of badgers one summer (up to seven at one time) feeding and playing around me (with cubs) - something I'll never forget.
Well, the sett has changed a lot since then, but Anna and I were very surprised to have a wonderful view of a large sow badger snuffling around the woodland floor not 15 yards from us, before she shuffled fatly off, and we left the wood - our first badger together and a really nice moment! (No photo - WAY too gloomy under the wood's mixed canopy, even if the badger did emerge at about eight thirty pm - very much light enough for our eyes - but not for my camera unfortunately.
Anna and I have vowed to return, in the summer maybe, and look for the cubs - you never know, in a little better light I may get a photograph or two...?

B is for Big Barn owl.
On leaving the wood, (still in reasonable light) we returned to the car and I suddenly noticed a beautiful Barn Owl quartering over a field pretty close to us - COMPLETELY unexpected - and quite magical in the half light!
Anna thinks its her first ever experience of a wild Barn Owl (not surprising really as they're bloody rare these days - I've only seen two beforehand).
We watched it for a good fifteen minutes, like a ghostly (completely silent) white moth, low over the scrubby long grass.
At this time of year, the Owl should be breeding, and if so, it will quarter over that field all summer long - I think we may be in luck here.
However, and this is a BIG "However", the Barn Owl, because of its scarcity, is a "Schdeule 1" species - one needs a licence to photograph these birds anywhere NEAR their nest, in season. So we won't be getting very close to this Owl - and not even approaching any nest - not even close!
Wonderful stuff and so unexpected!

B is for Bones.
Fallow Deer bones to be exact.
Rewind to the Bluebells at Bix, and Anna and I literally stumbled over two Fallow Deer carcasses (does and not together), lying in the wood, close to the road. Both had been there a year or more - just bones left - and we suspect one (at least) was hit by a car and thrown into the wood.
Anna allowed me to glean one of the skulls, which I'll clean and photograph when I get time.

B is for Buzzard.
Another carcass I'm afraid, in the same wood.
My father has done a spot of gamekeeping, when it was almost de rigeur to shoot or poison birds of prey on estates, so will have come across such things - but as for me, this was the first such carcass I'd ever seen.
Dead for some time again - as it was mainly just feathers and bones - and I took one of the magnificent primaries for myself.
Was it poisoned? Doubt it.
I think it just died naturally (everything does I suppose), fell out of a tree, and the bugs and beasts cleaned it up.
Wonderful to see the plumage at VERY close range though - that feather I've got is a byoot!

B is for Black Rabbit.
And that OBVIOUSLY deserves a post (above this) all to itself....


What an incredible few hours Anna and I had last night!

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