Wild with Pants as listened to by Springwatch

Yeah yeah it's a celebrity culture we live in... and Wild with Pants although attempting to rise above it is as culpable as the next man. Fame at last! Although Mr Hughes-Games mispronounced us Wild with PLants!!! That was little old us.. FINALLY our hydration question got an answer. Clearly not such a dumb question as they explained several different solutions to the problem of hydrating nestlings including an awesome film clip of sand grouse giving youngsters a sip from well doused feathers. You may tell people you have visited a site who have conversed with SW but please don't put our name to a product without visiting our PR team!!!!!!

Late night pants





I'm currently waiting for game 7 of the Stanley Cup ice hockey championships to start, and as it's being held in Vancouver, it's pretty late for us in the UK. I looked out of the window, expecting to see one of the many rabbits that converge on the outside lawn at night, but found a hedgehog instead. Not exactly rare, but we're normally asleep or without cameras when they are about, so I dived downstairs and took a few photos. The hedgehog was very obliging, posing for a minute or two before scuttling off in search of slugs.

Incidentally, it appears to have a patch of grey spikes on one side - now what did Springwatch say about hedgehogs going grey?

Barn Owls everywhere





Went to see whether we could spot our Barn Owl again but had no luck. Driving home we spotted a hare sitting close to the road in a field seemingly just begging to be photographed- unfortunately it sped off before we got out of the car. Whilst we stood watching him haring away I noticed another barn owl fly through a missing pane of glass into a barn. It was quite away away but managed a few shots and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle of it hunting and returning.

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched?

Some people say that if there is a "sixth sense", it's that feeling that someone (or something) is watching you. How many times have you walked down a road and suddenly looked up at a window to catch someone peering out at you? In reality, it's most likely to be just peripheral vision - you can just about see something through the corner of your eye. Anyway, this happened to me twice today. Happily walking near Birdy Brow minding my own business when I suddenly looked up to see this young roe deer staring at me. And then 15 minutes later as I was crossing a field, I looked up to see this hare hoping that I hadn't seen him.

Fledgling feeding time is abruptly suspended

We were photographing the fledgling blue tits at Leighton Moss when we suddenly heard a weird screech and a squirrel jumped 5 feet in the air. This kestrel had swooped down and caught an unknown bird. I don't think it was one of the blue tits but perhaps someone might be able to identify it from the underside of it's wing. After that, every bird in the vicinity vanished for a few minutes. Sorry if the photos are a little OTT - I've been playing with a tilt-shift generator!

Barn Owls and Marsh Harriers to say nothing of the coot chicks

Great day at Leighton Moss. Marsh Harriers out in force. Also saw a kes swoop into feeder station and take out we think a great tit. Later a Sparrow Hawk causing hijinks around the reed beds. On the way home we were passing a barn/ field/river area we really like for barn owls and were remarking on whether there were any about when a beauty flew over road in front of us. Parked up and watched her (or him) bringing back a large vole or something into barn and out again. REMEMBER ALL PICTURES ARE CLICKABLE FOR A LARGER VERSION. ALSO: WE ARE JUST 3 HITS AWAY FROM 2000 HITS HERE!!! WOW! YET NOBODY COMMENTS-DON'T BE SHY!! (There is no Million Pound Prize for the 2000th customer btw!!)

You can sit all night in a hide or…

... you can sit outside the Inn at Whitewell with a pint and snap the wildlife as it passes by. Okay so you don't get the big and exciting stuff from the patio of Inn at Whitewell but heh all life is beautiful and stunning and let's face it - you could go to Amazon Rain forest to find something as dazzling and pretty as our own goldfinch...

Video – a nuthatch hiding in and eating from our window feeder

  We've had a pair of nuthatches using our window feeder intermittantly since the harsh early winter when they came out of the nearby woods to discover the bird food we've left out. At the moment, they are feeding their young and the feeder is getting hammered. In fact, I was just dropping a handful of sunflower seeds into the feeder when a nuthatch flew in. I don't know which of us had the greater shock, but the crows underneath got a few extra seeds as a result. In this video, we see a nuthatch suddenly sit very still. What had happened was that a bluetit had arrived briefly on the telephone line (you might just catch it flying about early into the video) The nuthatch obviously had a glimpse but wasn't sure what was there, and sat stock still, not even daring to eat the sunflower seed in its beak. When the "danger" had apparently passed, it went back to feeding. Apologies for the brief burst of laughter - we were watching River Cottage and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's cries of "yes yes yes", followed by the mooing of a cow were too much for my adolescent brain.... And here it is on one of the tree feeders.

Meet the Beetle (AKA “And I thought Ringo was a funny name…”)

My attention was drawn to a large, slowly moving flying insect which hovered about for a while, and then settled on a nearby leaf. "Do we have cicadas in the UK?", I thought, then went to have a closer look. It was obviously a large, unusual beetle, so I took a few photos and then went home and checked Collins Guide to British Wildlife. The beetle turned out to have the marvelously old rustic English name "Cockchafer". The guide says, "Adults seen in May and June, hence alternative name of May-Bug".

Blue Tits feeding their young at Higher Hodder Bridge

Walking across Higher Hodder Bridge, I noticed a lot of activity from Blue Tits, and it soon became obvious that they were going into nests built inside cracks in the bridge itself. I thought at the time that what they had in their beaks was nesting material, which struck me as a bit odd, as they should have finished their nests a few weeks ago. It wasn't until I could look at the photographs back home that it was obvious that the blue tits had caught flies that they were feeding to their young.

What’s even more difficult to find than an otter?




An otter's skull!

As we were walking around the Applecross peninsula looking for otters, we wondered what happened to their remains after they died. We decided that a good proportion would be taken by the sea while others may just lay in holts that then become unused. Certainly it would be highly unlikely that humans ever came across the bones of an otter.

Of course, the very next day we found this otter skull about ten yards beyond a beach, no doubt washed up on a high tide. It had certainly been weathered and had lost the lower jaw, but most of its teeth were still present.

Goosander and young on the Ribble

We saw this Goosander resting with her young on a rock in the Ribble (just beyond where the Ribble and Hodder meet). It was a great place to keep an eye out for any predators, and as we'd seen a mink just 5 minutes previously, a choice that hopefully gave her young a sporting chance of survival.

Warblers at Leighton Moss





Warblers were out in force at Leighton Moss with numerous sightings of reed warblers and black caps. We also heard a few grasshopper warblers that were well hidden in the reeds. The photos are of a reed warbler (top)and a black cap.

I was particularly pleased to get the photos of the reed warbler in the reeds, as it's very difficult to get the camera to focus where you want it too when there are so many reeds that the camera wants to focus on instead.

Busy days at Leighton Moss







Went up to Leighton Moss on Tuesday and decided to camp nearby so we could get up early on Weds and see what was about at 6am.
Had a fantastic couple of days watching Marsh Harriers (about 3 pairs) dancing, seeing off attacks from buzzards, gathering nesting materials etc. Also Great Crested Grebes doing their beautiful courtship displays, deer, black caps, bearded tits, reed warblers, the mad antics of the black headed gulls and ultra exciting for us at 6.25am on Wednesday morning- an otter!! Our first English otter and our first in fresh waters. It was right on the other side of the lake so the photos are the worst we've ever taken and simply act as a proof to the viewing but we got better look through the bins. A grey lag goose drew my attention to the otter by flying in circles around where it swam. Though there was a Canada goose and a moorhen quietly sitting at the reed edge not freaking out at all. It looked to me as though the otter was having a last play before bed - not too intent on hunting -so perhaps the birds could sense this. Many greylags have young at the moment so perhaps this accounts for the more panicked reaction of the goose.
Anyway we'll stick some pictures up in batches over the coming days. To start with here are some Marsh Harriers snaps.