Every jackdaw could be George

Every time a jackdaw lands in the garden, or on the roof next door, I wonder if it’s George. Standing at the window I know this jackdaw can see me. He runs up the tiles and stands on the gable for a second looking my way, then slowly he takes to the sky and is gone. Did he wink before he went? or was that just my imagination?

Today the jackdaw is my #WGW365

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Meet the wild neighbours…

They aren’t rare or unusual but sometimes your “neighbours” are the backbone of your wildlife garden.

I might despair at the squirrels for stealing all the bird seed from the feeders and trying to steal eggs from nests, but in the depths of winter five minutes watching one methodically searching for buried nuts in the lawn helps to lift a grey day.

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That goes for Robbie as well who visits our windowsill about four times a day, no… not the Take That heartthrob with the tattoos (I think he’d find it hard to balance on our windowsill), this one has very skinny legs, black eyes and a red breast. The only thing they do have in common is a very cheeky personality!

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Two more for my #WGW365 Challenge list!

A one-eyed monster? #WGW365

No not really, it’s just a fox. I first noticed only one of its eyes was lighting up in the infra-red light of my trail camera about a month ago. I hadn’t noticed it before, and will need to look at video from last summer to see if it was happening then. It could have been blind in this eye since birth (it was one of two cubs from last year), or could have a disease or suffered some kind of trauma. Whatever happened it luckily looks healthy, strong and is obviously finding plenty to eat (including the left overs under the birdfeeder!). I’ll keep a close eye on him and he’s going on my Wild Garden Wildlife 365 Challenge list!

Golden birds and a fluted song at dusk #WGW365

Three more for my Wild Garden Wildlife 365 Challenge (#WGW365). Two golden lovelies on the bird feeder; Goldfinch (front) and Siskin – neither of them are common in my garden, so they’re welcome additions to my list…

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… and at dusk tonight I was drawn away from the kitchen by a fluted song, high in the Scots pine in the front garden (hidden from view) the final sounds of the day from a thrush.

Click on the arrow above to listen

A new challenge: wild garden wildlife 365

The first day of a new year. It feels so clean and fresh, like I’ve been given a book with hundreds of blank, pure white pages just waiting to be filled. This year I’ve decided to fill a few of those pages with wildlife, and more specifically wildlife from my own garden. Big, small, loud or mute they will all be counted. The aim is to record 365 native UK wildlife species (flora or fauna) in 365 days. The rules are simple; if it’s growing in the garden, flies over it, lands in it, is wandering around it, or can be heard in it, it counts towards my WGW365.

I put the trail camera out last night in the hope of getting footage of one of my favourite creatures, a badger, and I wasn’t disappointed. At 3am it trundled through and demolished the brick house that holds just a handful of sunflower seeds for it every night, but it wasn’t the first creature in my 365 list.

That accolade goes to the tawny owl sitting in the trees outside our bedroom window, screeched quietly to itself. I only heard it when the fireworks died down, a few minutes past twelve, but it was unmistakable. Not a loud call, more a mumble under its breath – complaining about the noise.

If you’d like to join me in my challenge, start today, or tomorrow or even next week (there’s still time to catch up!). Every garden, no matter how big or small, has exciting wildlife discoveries just waiting to be made. Don’t worry if you don’t know what they all are, there are hundreds of people online who can help. From the wildlife community identification website iSpot, to Twitter (email me a photo any time at @WildlifeStuff) or a whole host of links provided by @RichardComont at Insect Rambles. Then keep track of all your records by adding them to iRecord. Not difficult to use, developed by @JohnvanBreda, and a great way to share your records with the UK wildlife community (and keep count of your 365).

No recording of the tawny, but the demolishing badger is here…

Dusk walk – the day after mid-summer’s day

8.30pm. Friday. 2012. Breezy, dry but not warm. There’s a pink haze lying over the valley as I walk down the hill. No sound, just a few birds singing and horses tearing at grass but otherwise silent.

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The growth is so thick I can’t see the badger hole in the bank of Knapweed meadow. Maybe I can put my camera there one night to watch. My hunch is it’s a maternity sett but I can’t be sure.

The stream is running fast after the torrential rain. It’s the highest I’ve seen it at this time of year. No signs of otter spraint on the stone.

The tall hedges are smothered in sweet smelling honeysuckle.

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As I reach Stable oak there’s no sign of the little owls. Maybe they’ve decamped to Adam’s Oak on the hill where there’s more cover and food?

A song thrush is singing from a telephone line near the Mission, while a female gathers worms from a nearby field and swallows dive low over the lane.

Walking back down the lane bats take advantage of the knats. Several fly just over my head. Pipistrelles I think.

Knats in the setting sun

The stream that runs between the fields is overflowing onto the footpath and road. I’ve only seen it do this in the winter. It’s usually a dribble by now.

Reaching Knapweed meadow I spot a roe deer. There are no horses in the field at the moment, so the grass has grown long. Watching her with my binoculars I spot a fawn, then another. Twins… obviously not very old but steady enough on their feet.

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Bee you old or bee you new – I bee happy!

Today has been the warmest day of the year so far with temps touching 17 degrees (well, that’s what it said in my car!). I decided to look a little further afield than my garden (that has very few flowering plants at the moment – something that needs rectifying) and visited the old churchyard in the village looking for bees.

Andrena flavipes or Yellow legged mining bee (female)

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Can 29 Women Survive on an Island without a Hairdryer?

“Are you a Hardy Woman?” the Dorset Wildlife Trust press release seemed like it was speaking to me “Can you survive on Brownsea Island for a weekend without your hairdryer and mobile phone?” Easy I thought. That was June when putting my name down for a sponsored weekend under the stars seemed like a good idea. Now it was September 11th and the day of the event had arrived. Why was I doing it? Had I been inflicted by some strange mid-life madness? Would anyone sponsor me? Who knows…

Welcome to Brownsea Continue reading

The Beauty of Summer

Sorry! I never seem to have time to blog at the moment. I’m either photographing wildlife, filming it, adding it to Flickr (see my stuff here), Tweeting about it (my Tweets are here) or adding stuff to Facebook. Far too many online thingys to deal with… my life used to be simple!  Anyway, the other day I went for a very wildlife-y walk around my favourite part of Corfe Mullen.

Emperor Dragonfly Female Continue reading

Open Day at the Urban Wildlife Centre, Corfe Mullen

It’s Open Day at the Dorset Wildlife Trust, Urban Wildlife Centre in Corfe Mullen on Saturday 16 May! Come along if you live nearby. As a fully-signed up volunteer (I have the t-shirt as you can see below!) muggins here will be in the Education Room showing people small mammals and reptiles (and trying not to be bitten by them while in front of small children), there will be a BBQ and guided walks on the beautiful Upton Heath. Lets hope the sun shines and we have a great day. I will try to get some pictures!

Me on Upton Heath

Butterflies, Bees & Bumbles

It was a truly beautiful spring day today in Dorset. Perfect blue sky and lots of warm sunshine.

I think the insects appreciated the warmth as much as I did and in-between bouts of gardening, housework and washing I chased them round the garden with my camera.

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