After deciding to get my camera trap out in some of the birch woods round Loch Leven, I’ve learnt something my field guide didn’t tell me.
It was a successful bit of camera trapping, as it had only been out for 3 nights but I managed to get Roe Deer (difficult not to), Red Fox, Badger and European Hare! The one that perplexed me though was the hare. I knew they were in there as I’d seen them before but hadn’t given them much thought.
My field guide, Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East (Aulagnier, Haffner, Mitchell-Jones, Moutou & Zima, 2009) only mentions the European Hare Lepus europaeus as inhabiting “Open landscapes with bushes or hedges, sparse forests, marshland, steppes, subdesert areas…” etc. This place hardly counts as ‘sparse forest’, it supports Red Squirrel, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker and other typical woodland species. So, in my humble opinion, it is not sparse.
That and the fact I couldn’t find where I’d put my camera trap for 15 minutes due to all the trees I could have possibly put it on.
So I took to trusty, old Twitter and uploaded the 2 second long clip of the hare leaping (lepus = leap? Nope, just = hare) from stage left to stage right. I got plenty responses which was very helpful, and it would appear that these hares regularly use woodland as cover. If they aren’t feeding then why would they stay out in the open? Makes sense really.
The necessary notes have been added to my field guide now.
The other little thing I’ve learnt came from my visit to St Cyrus NNR on Thursday when I was helping with gorse removal (read about it on the Loch Leven NNR blog). Before getting to all the sawing and hauling of spiky stuff, Ruari (the intern at Tentsmuir NNR, who was also up for a visit) and I paid the bird hide a visit and after peering out the front window for however long, realised there was a Little Egret out the window on the right hand side of the hide.
This is actually a year tick for me although I haven’t kept my year list up to date since January… and I haven’t been updating my life list very much either. Either way, a nice bird to see on any day. What interested me was the colour of it’s feet: bright yellow, contrasting with the black legs.
After a bit of digging about I found that Little Egrets actually feed differently to Grey Herons which, now I think about it, I have observed in the field. Grey Herons are well known for having more patience than a rock when it comes to catching their next meal.
Little Egrets, however, go about catching fish differently. They are impatient wee herons and will actively go after fish. But in order to do this they need to find the fish. This is where the yellow feet come in. They wave their feet about in the water which, in theory, scares the fish which naturally swim to the surface to escape.
This makes it a whole lot easier to spot them than stabbing blindly at the mud. That said, it’s still quite a skill to be able to catch a small fish in your mouth as it darts away from you.
So that’s all the wee nuggets of info I felt like sharing. It appears I’ve found a use for my blog so perhaps there’ll be more posts to come…