I have managed to have my camera at hand more often whilst out and about on site, but I still seem to miss quite a few photo opportunities as the wildlife can be there one moment and then gone in a flash. I caught a Muntjac and fox crossing paths. The muntjac kept its eye on the fox, but the fox had no interest and trotted by. I have often seen Muntjacs and foxes share the same space.

One of the most common things I'm told is that someone saw an animal the size of a fox, but it wasn't a fox. If it wasn't a fox it would definitely be a Muntjac. Something else about both animals is that people often refer to their colouring as not being typical, but different times of year can produce darker greyish colours. I saw some foxes recently chasing a female fox, she did her best to hide from them and ran under one of the incorporating mills. It totally confused one fox as he ran above her along the veranda wondering where she'd gone.

The deer have been quite relaxed lately. They often watch me go by in case I have some food for them. If I'm on the tractor and I stop on the road, they will come over for carrots and apples and some sprouts. They get very excited and I have to put the food out in long lines to ensure that each of them get a chance as there is a strict pecking order with the males when it comes to food being served. Doing several rows helps them to spread out and calm down. Some of the younger males often take up sparring. There is no real aggression, just getting some practice in for when they have bigger antlers. Here in this photo you can see two youngsters doing just that.

I recently checked under a bridge for otter spraints and was pleased to find some. My next step will be to put some remote cameras out and try to get some new photos. Unfortunately for me they turn up at night or very early hours in the morning so I'm unable to get photos on my own camera.

I am hoping that the Barn owls have used the box for breeding this year, last year it was taken over by a squirrel. I'll hopefully bring updates in the future about the owls and Otters. A few weeks ago we had a cygnet rescued. It had a minor injury and our resident pair of swans is re-establishing their breeding territory and the cygnet could have ended up in a lot of bother if they had seen it. The amazing Swan Sanctuary volunteers that do the rescues always come to the aid of any swans when we call. They certainly know their stuff and have good knowledge of what swans live where in relation to their leg ring identification numbers.

There have been flocks galore of siskins, goldfinches, chaffinches etc all feeding on the Alder trees. It's surprising how noisy small birds can be. The noise can be so loud that I think there must be 100 birds, but then only 20 fly away and all goes quiet. Here's a siskin with an alder seed in its beak.

Herons are ever present still dropping in and out of our canals. They wait patiently for something to move in the water and then strike with lightening speed. This heron is sitting on the white footbridge, not sure ifit's using the bridge just to perch on or whether it's checking the water below, but these birds do not swoop from height to catch food, they are all about stealth.

I hope to bring you some more stories and photos next time around. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled and monitoring the wildlife as usual.

Julie Matthews
Mills Nature Conservationist