Fri 29th June 2012
Well, my new DVD ‘This is Our Land’ is finally finished and is available in my online shop. If you happen to be in Barnstaple then you can get a copy directly from me in the Pannier Market on a Tuesday. I’m usually there until around 2 pm. I’d love to meet you and have a chat so do drop by.
The main news this week is about a very special little bird, the pied flycatcher. This is the second year we’ve had a pair on our land. It’s rare to see them inland as they usually nest on the north coast so we’ve been very lucky.
Our pair nested, had six eggs and reared five chicks which is a really good success rate. I got to film the flycatchers, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years. You can see some of my footage on the new DVD. My granddaughter Roxy was watching it the other day and spotted that the female had a ring on her leg. I’d never even noticed it can you believe. It’s a shame as it would have been nice to have found out where she had come from. Maybe they will come back next year and we can have a look then.
My Exmoor safaris are now in full swing. They are as popular as ever. People love to see Exmoor and all the wonderful wildlife. Some of my regulars come at different times of the years to see the changing seasons.
The weeks of the rutting season are fully booked as usual. This is the best time to see the big stags. It’s amazing to hear them roaring to each other. Me and my oldest boy Stuart will make sure that you get some great photos but that you keep safe while doing so. Never forget that stags can be dangerous animals, especially during the rut.
I run my safaris from March to the end of October, mostly at weekends and you can book up on this website. There are a few spaces left this year and I’ll be getting next years’ diary up in a few months time. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to show you the Exmoor that I love so much. You’ll need to book sharpish if you want to join me for the rutting though.
Roxy runs the safaris for me and the other day she passed her driving test. She’s been learning with David from South Molton School of Motoring. You can contact him on 0800 112 0060 if you live locally and are looking for a good driving instructor. I’m so pleased she passed as one day she may take over my work as she loves wildlife.
For my photo this week I thought I’d show you the photo of a dipper I took up on the moor just last week. You will see that it has little grubs in its beak. That tells me that its nest is not far away. Dippers make a nest like an oversized wren’s nest, with a hole near the top and a lot of moss inside. They like to build under a bridge.
Most often when you see a dipper it is perched on a stone in or beside a river, its dumpy black and white body with a white throat bobbing up and down. It’s always lovely to see.
On the same day I saw a grey wagtail on a stone, another bobbing bird but this time it is its tail that goes up and down. It’s also a nice looking bird and a regular along the river bank.
As I sat there, a kingfisher flew past in a blue flash so, all in all, it was a good day. So you lovely people, when you’ve got a little time to spare, go and sit beside a river and watch all the wonderful wildlife around you. You might be surprised at how much there is to see.
Tues 19th June 2012
The month of June is marching on and I’ve been working hard to finish my new DVD. It should be ready by next week and I’ll get it on the website as soon as I can. It’s all about what’s been going on on our land, especially with the wildlife. So many people ask me about it that it seemed a good idea to make a film so you can see for yourselves. It will be called ‘This Is Our Land’ and is about an hour and fifty minutes long. I started making it back in December so it shows how things change with the seasons. I hope you’ll like it.
It’s been another good week for spotting birds. Most of them have nested now and everywhere you look there are parent birds out and about collecting food for the youngsters. A few days ago I went up on the moor and saw lots of skylarks, certainly a good many more than last year. There are also a good number more stonechats about this year.
The best bird I saw up there was a short-eared owl. I’ve never seen one flying before. It was very low to the ground. I so wanted to get a good picture and spent a lot of time trying. In the end I got three shots but it took me three days. I’ve told you before how important it is to have patience and for me it paid off yet again. I’m so pleased with the pictures. On the third day I saw two owls. I think they must have been a pair, although I could be wrong. I understand that the short-eared owl nests on the ground on the moors up in the north of the country so I guess it must do the same down here in the south west but I don’t know for sure.
Another thrill for me was seeing three cuckoos. They are very difficult birds to spot so I was lucky. Then a trip up to the highest part of Exmoor rewarded me with the sight of seven hares. They are such beautiful and interesting animals and I always love to see them. If you want to go looking for some yourself, the best time is just before dark, which is when I like to go out, or around about dawn.
These are good times to spot badgers as well. Mind you, if you put food down for the badgers they will also come out in the daylight once they get used to you. If you feed them regularly and gain their trust, they may well bring their cubs along. Now that is something special to see. So why not get out and see what you can spot? Good luck all you lovely people.