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.

grey squirrel 04-01-2013 14-52-09

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!

robbie robin 04-01-2013 14-54-52

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…

goldfinch and siskin 01-01-2013 12-24-47

… 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…