Tues 28th Jan 2014

Siskin and goldfinchAnother month is nearly over and a new year well and truly begun. And what a wet start we have had. I don’t remember seeing such rain in all my life. I feel so sorry for everyone who is flooded out.

The good news is that people are telling me that the birds are back in their gardens after there not being many about for a while. It’s likely a sign that cold weather is on the way. We certainly have a lot of birds about up on the land, especially siskins and goldfinches, as well as the usual bluetits, great tits and such like. I’ve even seen male linnets lately which you don’t see very often. I have six feeding stations set up and I reckon there’s a hundred or more bird feeding at times. I feed mainly sunflower kernels and fat balls, with niger seeds for the siskins and goldfinches.

The other thing I should mention is the importance of having your feeders close to bushes if at all possible. Sparrowhawks target feeders as a source of easy prey but with bushes close by the birds can quickly dive for cover when they sense danger.

I got a wonderful shot of a fox this week, the best I’ve ever taken. You can see it at the bottom of this blog. I was actually trying to photograph the woodpeckers but then this fox appeared down by the pond and walked right up the hill in front of my cabin. I squeaked and he stopped, then I squeaked again and he looked straight towards me. Click, I had my shot

You might be wondering what this dog fox was doing out in broad daylight. It was about 12.30 pm. Well, January is when foxes mate so he was out on a mission to find a young lady fox I should imagine. When he’d walked on past he lay down in the brambles for a bit then disappeared into the gorse. It’s a good time to hear foxes calling in the evenings during the mating season. Listen out for barking that sounds like a dog but higher pitched.

Hopefully there will be some fox cubs about later in the year if this male was successful in wooing a vixen. I do hope so. Once, many years ago, I was out watching a foxes den about five miles from Bishop’s Tawton and was amazed when one by one eleven fox cubs emerged from the ground. One group was bigger than the other which showed they were two different litter but it was a great sight to see and very unusual. I got some really good film of them.

If you are out looking for a foxes den, keep your eyes open for scattered bones and feathers, a sure sign that the den belongs to a fox and is not a badger sett.

Quite a few people have been asking me lately if they can buy a copy of my BBC series. They are actually all being re-released as DVD’s on 24th February, which happens to be the day after my 75th Birthday. They are also releasing a DVD of the ‘Birds’ series for the first time. You will be able to get them from Amazon.

The latest video I’ve made myself, ‘I Do It My Way’, about progress on the land, is still selling well. You can find out more about it in my online shop.

I’m still busy filming for the new ITV series, which I’m really enjoying. We could do with some better weather though. Even a bit of snow would be nice for some scenic Exmoor shots.

Another project I’m working on is filming badgers underground. It’s something I’ve attempted before, years ago, but it wasn’t very successful. Back then I tried attaching a camera to a motorised toy but it kept getting stuck on roots as it moved along. This time I’ve come up with a different idea which I’ll tell you about as I begin to try it out. It’s involving a bit of work at night. I was down at the site where I’m working the other night but only saw two mice! We’ll I suppose that’s a start.

Safari time is fast approaching and I’m so looking forward to it, especially now I have the new truck. I’ll post a picture of it next month. It looks really smart in its camouflage colours. The most popular dates are beginning to fill up so do book up soon if you want to join me this year. I never tire of showing people the red deer and Exmoor ponies and there is generally a lot more to see besides. A few lucky guests even get to go onto our land if the weather closes in up on the high moor.

Well, that’s all the news for now. By the time I speak to you again, the days will have really begun to lengthen out and there will be lots of signs of Spring about. Until then, God bless and go out and enjoy the wildlife that’s all around you.