Saturday, 31 January 2009

White-backed Woodpecker Feeding Site

This photo shows a typical feeding site of White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos. A finely shaved rotting tree stump, from top to ground level and with wood-chips but also powder-like debris. Such stumps look like they have been carefully worked with a mallet and fine chisel. This method of feeding, looking for beetles inside dead timber, is time consuming and typically done outside the breeding season. Taken in the Bükk Hills, Hungary, October 2007.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Water Vole Droppings

Northern Water Vole Arvicola terrestris droppings are typically cylindrical, round-ended pellets. They range in colour from shades of green, grey and brown depending upon what has been recently eaten. These in the photo here are quite pale which is probably due to having been washed by recent rain. The relatively large size of Northern Water Vole droppings (up to 10mm long) sets them apart them from those of most other voles, but location is also a key. Photo by Dean Stables, Manvers Lake, Yorkshire, UK, January 2009.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Pellets: Barn Owl

Here is a batch of Barn Owl Tyto alba pellets collected from the floor of an old building (Serbia, November 2008). There were hundreds of pellets in this building which indicated a regular and undisturbed roost. Note the typical broad, compact cylinder shapes.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Pellets: Barn and Little Owls

This photo shows the pellets of two owl species found in the same barn in South Yorkshire, England in January 2009. The larger is Barn Owl Tyto alba, the smaller Little Owl Athene noctua. The Barn Owl's is typical, being a broad cylinder shape and blunt at both ends. Little Owl pellets are typically pointed at one or both ends. The pellets were found and placed side by side for comparison by Dean Stables. 

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Wild Boar Droppings

Wild Boar Sus scrofa droppings look very much like those of farm pigs, so location is the key. Colour and constituency varies according to what has been eaten. They are usually cylinder shaped, sausage-like, with disc-shaped sections fused together. These in this photo are dry, which indicates that they are not recent, and have been broken up. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Fresh Wolf Scat

Fresh Wolf Canis lupus scat, Bieszczady Mountains, south-east Poland, November 2008. Note the sloppy nature of the dropping which indicates that it is recent. The fur and hair content and the grey colour are typical for Wolf. Wolves leave their scat in prominent places such as on bare trails or even roads to serve as visual signs to other wolves. Such scats found in areas where there are large domestic or feral dogs are difficult to identify.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

More Woodpecker Holes in Buildings

Here is another example of a woodpecker boring holes in a building. This time a Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus caught in the act in Estonia (photo by Uku Paal). When the bird is not present it is difficult to tell which species has made such holes.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Woodpecker Holes in Buildings

This photo shows a hole made by a Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major in a wooden door on a cabin. In Europe several woodpecker species including Black and Grey-headed do this, usually when in search of hibernating invertebrates. But it is not totally clear why the birds hack into buildings like this one, by Lake Balaton in Hungary, which are not rotten and not infested with invertebrates. One theory is that woodpeckers sometimes bore into such surfaces because they are deceived into thinking that insects are inside by the sounds made by electricity cables, which resemble the high frequency sounds made by invertebrates.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Brown Bear Claw Marks

This photo shows the claw marks made by a Brown Bear Ursus arctos on a tree. Bears probably do this for several reasons including making a visual, territorial sign for other bears to notice. At the same time a little "comfort behaviour" that is, claw cleaning or sharpening, may be involved. Photo taken in the Bieszczady Mountains, Poland, November 2008.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Path of European Beaver

This photo is of a pathway, a trail, made by European Beaver (Poland, November 2008). It leads from a stream to a lodge. This path is fresh, as the wet mud shows, and was created by the beaver dragging timber to build the lodge. It is not a path to an entrance as this lies below the lodge, under water.