Yesterday I took a bike ride around the Carse in Stirling, so far this year there has been very few sightings of wildlife this year. Around the swans pond there have been a few ducks and of course the swans.
So cycling around the carse it was great to see first, a few hundred pink footed geese, in the far off field.Then I spotted in the distance a deer, the first I have seen this year. Then there was 2, fantastic.
I then made my way to the River Forth where I spotted a Grey Heron on the far bank in the field, another first this year. So in the one day I managed to film lots of great wildlife,
Another reason for me going to the University was to film some grey squirrels. As soon as I got to the wooded area I spotted one of these charming fellows, darting around the golden leaves on the ground.
So fascinating to watch these busy little animals always on the move and ever watchful constantly caching food supplies for the winter.This makes it incredibly difficult to film them, but I think I got some good shots here.
Earlier in the year we had taken a journey up to the Loch of the Lowes wildlife reserve where we had filmed Red Squirrels.They are a lot smaller than the grey and its the Reds, that are our native species but they have been almost driven out by the greys unfortunately.
“Two different squirrels: the facts”
The grey squirrel(Sciurus carolinensis)
The grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Size: between 540 and 660 g in weight.
Appearance: upper fur is mainly grey with mid-brown along the upper back and chestnut over the flanks, limbs and feet. Their underside is white. The tail hairs are grey, banded with brown and black and a characteristic white fringe.They have no ear tufts,pale ears and have a larger, more robust build.
Food: Grey squirrels share food sources with reds. However, unlike red squirrels; grey squirrels can feed on seeds with high tannin content, such as acorns, thanks to differences in digestive physiology. As a result, more food sources are available to them and grey squirrels tend to put on 20% in body weight over the autumn, compared with 10% for reds. This gives grey squirrels an advantage in hard winters.
Distribution: 200,000 and 300,000 in Scotland (around three million in England). Grey squirrels have expanded across Scotland’s entire central belt and are now spreading northwards through Angus, Perth and Kinross and Stirling. There is also a population of grey squirrels in Aberdeen city which is now spreading across Aberdeenshire. In south Scotland, grey squirrels carrying squirrelpox, are moving in from England.
Habitat: prefer oak, beech, sweet-chestnut and horse-chestnut habitats. Due to more efficient digestive processes, these habitats can support larger numbers of grey squirrels than red squirrels. Grey squirrels can also make use of conifer habitats (mainly Scots pine and Norway spruce) especially if there is good broadleaved habitat within 1 mile.
Threats: Minimal, aside from human control efforts and road kill.
The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
Size: between 270 and 340 g in weight.
Appearance: despite their name, red squirrels can have coats ranging from almost black to chestnut or light brown on the back. The chest and stomach are white. They are famed for their characteristically long eartufts, which are especially prominent in winter.
Food: eats mainly tree seeds but in spring and early summer also eats the buds, flowers and shoots of both deciduous and coniferous trees. Other foods include fungi, fruits, berries, caterpillars and even birds’ eggs. Unlike grey squirrels, red squirrels cannot digest seeds with high tannin content, such as acorns, which limits the food sources available for reds.
Distribution: 75% (around 121,000) of the UK red squirrel population is found in Scotland. In the north, strong populations still exist in areas as yet uncolonised by grey squirrels. Red squirrels can also be found in some parts of central Scotland as ‘pocket’ populations and, although much reduced from their former range, can still be found in many parts of southern and south-western Scotland. The last remaining populations of red squirrels in mainland England are found in Northumberland, Cumbria, North Yorkshire and North Merseyside, which are continuous with the south Scotland populations.
Habitat: typically conifer forests to broadleaf woodland; favours Scots pine and Norway spruce forests, but also enjoys hazel and beech. They can also live in mountainous areas (with altitudes of 425 metres near Aberdeen).
Threats: Competition from grey squirrels, squirrelpox virus, habitat fragmentation and road kill.
Smaller than blackbirds, with a short tail, pointed head, triangular wings, starlings look black at a distance but when seen closer they are very glossy with a sheen of purples and greens. Their flight is fast and direct and they walk and run confidently on the ground. Noisy and gregarious, starlings spend a lot of the year in flocks.
The starlings are generally a highly social family. Most species associate in flocks of varying sizes throughout the year. A flock of starlings is called a murmuration.
These flocks may include other species of starlings and sometimes species from other families. This sociality is particularly evident in the their roosting behaviour; in the non-breeding season some roosts can number in the thousands of birds.
Why do they do it?
Starlings join forces for many reasons. Grouping together offers safety in numbers – predators such as peregrine falcons find it hard to target one bird amidst a hypnotising flock of thousands.
The South of England has took a severe battering on the weather front during the night, this is usually what we in Scotland get quite often, but it has only been a lot of rain that our weather gods have commended upon us up here.
Today I took a ride to the Swans pond , where there is quite a few ducks, more than last time. I threw them some brown bread but I only encouraged the scavenging seagulls who are always milling about the pond these days.
In the field to the back of me sitting on the telephone post were loads of Starlings, I wondering how long the will be here before the long flight southwards.
As I cycled along what was the old railway line, and is now the cycle path, I looked to the field to my left and saw a gang of brownish birds running through the
This partridge breeds on farmland across most of Europe into western Asia, and has been introduced widely into North America.
The Grey Partridge is a rotund bird, 28–32 cm long, brown-backed, with grey flanks and chest. The belly is white, usually marked with a large chestnut-brown horse-shoe mark in males, and also in many females.
Hens lay up to twenty eggs in a ground nest.The nest is usually in the margin of a cereal field, most commonly Winter wheat.
Young Grey Partridges are mostly yellow-brown and lack the distinctive face and underpart markings.
The song is a harsh kieerr-ik, and when disturbed, like most of the gamebirds, it flies a short distance on rounded wings, often calling rick rick rick as it rises. They are a seed-eating species, but the young in particular take insects as an essential protein supply.
During the first 10 days of life, the young can only digest insects. The parents lead their chicks to the edges of cereal fields, where they can forage for insects. They are also a non-migratory terrestrial species, and form flocks outside the breeding season.
THE SCOTTISH DEER CENTRE
We hope you like our cuckoo film ,
After meeting up with Raymond on the Sherrifmuir above my home in Dunblane, and after photographing a cuckoo over the past couple of days, where I managed to get some nice still shots , I was still looking for some good film footage.
Ray had come to my rescue, after a discussion between us I informed Ray to get his film camera ready as I was going to call the cuckoo in with an old trick of mimicking the cuckoos call ! first time as well as you can see on the film.
I successfully called the cuckoo in to our location and Raymond as usual got superb film of it with the added bonus of a chaffinch mobbing it.