It’s true, if you want to see UK wild animals close to you’ve got to hide yourself away. More explicitly position yourself in a hide of some kind, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve invested in a one man chair hide, comfortable, easy to put up and stow away, portable and effective. Ok, it looks like a Dalek, but the wildlife doesn’t seem to mind. So far, I’ve limited these shenanigans to the garden where nobody can see and snigger, but the potential is there for some seriously good nature watching and photography if I can find somewhere in the wider countryside out of the public gaze.
Our garden Magpies have managed to fledge a couple of young this year, and I watched them earlier in the day splashing around in the bird bath. Over the course of 2 hours in the hide, with the help of a few Pringles as bait, even those wary birds came very close. So relaxed were they that one youngster walked right up to the hide, picked up a piece of wood and commenced pulling it to pieces on the lawn. This comical corvid strutted around for several minutes before jumping onto the bird bath for a drink and boisterous bathe.
Of greater surprise was the appearance of a party of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. These marauders gathered over the lawn like so many vultures before one bold individual swooped down to stuff a few Pringles in his maw. Now they had the green light and within seconds the booty had been hoovered up leaving the lawn and the sky above empty.
The feeders were being well used by newly fledged Great Tits, Blue Tits and a Robin. These birds of the year accepted the hide almost instantaneously, returning to the supply of sunflower hearts as soon as my human form was hidden.
Away from photographing birds from the hide, a stroll around the garden with the macro lens revealed a few interesting insects. a cluster of newly hatched pupae on a dead leaf I’m assuming are a ladybird species, an adult Harlequin ladybird was nearby foraging in the undergrowth. The golden rod held good numbers of speckled bush cricket nymphs (there’s 3 in the picture), and a newly emerged male speckled wood butterfly was in the favoured sun-dappled spot near the ponds.
Back to the hide to witness a humorous episode of perseverance from our local grey squirrel. They are not particularly welcome in the garden, but this one provided good entertainment for a few minutes as it got more and more frustrated with not being able to get its teeth into the sunflower hearts. It got there eventually.