Polecat – Mustela putorius

It was a great surprise to see a clip of a Polecat on my trail camera this morning. I’ve only seen them twice before on my local patch.

Once in March 2017 and again in February 2019. This morning’s polecat was seen in exactly the same place that it showed up two years ago.

The screenshots taken from the trail camera clip.

Polecats are members of the Mustelid family just like badgers and weasels. They are around the same size as a ferret and live roughly 5 years in the wild.

Polecats eat rabbits and are often found near rabbit burrows, rats, frogs and sometimes birds and worms.

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. The polecat has recently (2007) been added to the list of UK BAP mammals, protected as species of principal importance for the conservation of biological diversity in England under Section 74 of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000. (Ref Mammal Society)

Being protected polecats are not so much at risk of the persecution they once faced, but they are vulnerable both to being killed on the road and to secondary rodenticide poisoning. They can also get caught in traps set for animals such as squirrels and weasels.

Polecats were called a ‘foul marten’ because they produce a strong smell to mark their territory or when they feel threatened. The Latin putorius translates to “stench” or “stink”.

I’ve been searching the internet looking for something nice to say about Polecats to finish off, perhaps something in folklore but they are always portrayed as negative.

Get Your Boots On by Alex White

Posted in Animals, Blogging, Books, Environment, Get Your Boots On, Local patch, mammals, nature, Nature Books, outdoors, Oxfordshire, trail camera, Uncategorized, Wildlife, wildlife books | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Garden birds

There is a certain change in the air. Although the weather is still cold and overcast it is now past 4pm when it starts to get dark.

In the garden the Snowdrops are starting to appear and down in the woods the very first tips of green shoots, which will eventually become Bluebells, are pushing their way through the brown carpet of leaves and mud.

Back in the garden the noise level has noticeably increased. After being relatively quiet all winter the birds have started to practice their songs.

The Sparrows chattering to each other, the contact calls of the Long tailed tits as they move through the gardens and the distant drumming of a Great spotted woodpecker can be heard along the street.

I recently got a window feeder from Happy Beaks so I can really see up close any visitors. So far only a Robin and a Blue tit have been brave enough to try it.

It takes a selection of foods to attract different birds in to the garden, the wider the variety of food you can supply, the wider the variety of birds that will come. I’ve tried supplying peanuts, different seeds, sunflower hearts and fatballs in different areas and in different feeders around the garden to attract as many birds as possible.

Habitat also makes a difference, unlike the visiting Jackdaws, Wood pigeons and Collard doves, many birds are shy and prefer plenty of cover. A few years ago we replaced a wall with a hedge and that’s when we saw the return of the sparrows. The hedge isn’t thick enough yet for birds to nest in, but if offers cover and protection from any passing cats and sparrowhawks.

Each year the RSPB runs a citizen science project where everyone can record the number and species of birds that visit their garden or local area. This year the RSPB’s Great Garden Bird Watch takes place 29th to 31st January.

Here’s the link to find out more:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/everything-you-need-to-know-about-big-garden-birdwatch/

Posted in Animals, birds, Citizen science, garden, Get Your Boots On, Local patch, nature, RSPB, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great bustard in Oxfordshire

As soon as I finished college on Monday I headed out to the last known location of the Great bustard that has been hanging around in Oxfordshire for the past few days.

Great Bustards became extinct in the UK in 1832 but reintroduced onto Salisbury Plain in 2004 by the Great Bustard Group.

The Great Bustard (Otis tarda) is one of the heaviest flying birds. The male can grow up to 1 metre tall and weigh 16kg.

This particular bird has a pink leg ring and has been identified as a male from Wiltshire that has dispersed for its first winter. It will likely return to Salisbury Plain next year.

Although it was quite a distance across a field it was great to see it.

Links to further details about the Great Bustard in the UK

RSPB

Great Bustard Group

Get Your Boots On can be bought direct from Dived Up Publications

Posted in birds, Blogging, Books, Environment, Get Your Boots On, Local patch, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, Uncategorized, Wildlife, wildlife books | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Guest blog for The Badger Trust

Recently I wrote a guest blog for The Badger Trust on badger bedding.

How often does a badger change its bed?
A Badger Trust guest article by Alex White

Badgers have fascinated me since I saw my first one at the age of three. The more I learn about them, the more I realise that I don’t really know that much about their lifestyle, especially what goes on underground.

Most people unfortunately only ever get to see a badger dead on the side of the road, but some lucky people have badgers visiting their gardens or, like me, know of a sett where they can watch them go about their day-to-day life.

I’ve been lucky enough to see badgers close up on numerous occasions through volunteering with my local badger group for badger vaccination and rescue. The obvious highlight is watching a rehabilitated badger released back into the wild.

Through the many hours I’ve spent watching badgers at my local sett I’ve come to respect their intelligence and ingenuity.

“One of the acts that never ceases to bring a smile to my face is watching a badger working its way backwards with a roll of hay being dragged between its front paws. ”

​You can read the rest of the article here:

https://www.badgertrust.org.uk/how-often-does-badger-change-bed

Get Your Boots On is available from Bookshop or direct from DivedUp

Posted in Animals, Badgers, Blogging, Environment, Get Your Boots On, mammals, nature, Nature Books, outdoors, trail camera, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Connections

One of the amazing things about writing a blog is the connections it makes. I’m not talking about networking or writing to gain anything, I’m talking about the feedback and comments that come back from around the world.

As I said in a previous post, I haven’t been taking many photos recently or blogging much, but I have still been using my Birdsy camera in the garden and checking out other people’s social media and blogs.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a class from Upstate NY. They had been discussing nature activities that kids and adults can enjoy and had come across my blog. One of the children sent me a link to a website that he thought I might be interested so I’m going to share it with you.

Thank you Noah!

As his teacher explained to me, we are all experiencing difficult times at the moment, with many, including myself, at home learning online.

This was the message from that teacher “I want to show the increasingly large group of students that they can accomplish things if they aren’t afraid to come out of their shells and simply ask, especially while being in so much isolation these days!”

Over the few years I have been blogging I’ve had some brilliant letters and questions from young people which I’ve really enjoyed connecting with.

One person who does an amazing amount of work with nature blogging is Kate.

Kate has recently set up The Wildlife Blogger Crowd, a space for wildlife & nature bloggers to share posts, join discussions & support others.

There are some great wildlife bloggers out there.

Posted in Animals, Badgers, birds, Birdsy, Blogging, Books, Bushnell, Covid-19, Environment, fox, garden, Get Your Boots On, Local patch, mammals, nature, Nature Books, outdoors, Oxfordshire, Ponds, Stay at home, Stay Wild, trail camera, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mammal Week

National Mammal Week is organised by The Mammal Society and this year runs from 23 October to 1 November 2020.

Mammals have always been my favourite animals to watch and take photographs of.

I’ve been out for a walk around my local patch this afternoon and although the only mammal I saw was a grey squirrel, there were plenty of signs of mammal activity.

From the badgers digging out their setts to signs of Fallow deer, such as footprints and rutting stands.

This time last year I wrote a blog about our local fallow deer.

Whilst I haven’t been out with my camera much in the past few months I have still enjoyed seeing what gets captured by the Birdsy camera in my garden.

One of last years fox cubs still regularly visits to see what the birds have knocked off the feeder on to the floor and a couple of Muntjacs pop by most evenings (listen carefully for their chatter)

Over the past few months I’ve seen more hedgehogs than I ever seen. On one evening we had to stop the car to make sure this one got off the road and on to the pavement safely.

I also recently had the opportunity to be present when this badger was released back into the wild. He had been found in someone’s outbuilding very thin and with a bite wound. It was brilliant to see him all fattened up and running back in to a hedgerow.

If you like reading about the mammals on my local patch, there are many photos of them in my book Get Your Boots On which is available from Amazon

Posted in Animals, Autumn, Badgers, Environment, fox, garden, Get Your Boots On, Hedgehogs, Local patch, mammals, nature, Nature Books, outdoors, Oxfordshire, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

National Badger Day

Today is the perfect day to be celebrating all that is badgers.

Badgers are one of the reasons why I got in to blogging and photography in the first place and I have been watching my local badgers for over 10 years.

Here’s a collage of photos from over those years and a little of what badgers mean to me.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Surprise visitor to my local patch

Alexandrine parakeet

There was a colourful visitor to the village where I live today.

Easier to hear than to spot, this Alexandrine parakeet spent the afternoon flying between two hedgerows on the outskirts of the village, sometimes just sitting calling or at times being mobbed by crows.

Alexandrine parakeet

Ring-necked parakeets are a common sight in London. I’ve seen them in St James park but the bird today had slightly different marking, including red patches on the shoulders.

I’m not sure whether this is a captive bird that has escaped or a feral bird.

Ring necked parakeet from St James Park
Posted in Animals, birds, Blogging, Local patch, nature, Oxfordshire, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

It’s been a while…

The past few months have meant many things for many people.

From more time at home, to missing friends and distant family, a chance to slow down but also quite frightening for some.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve found the past few months tough. I don’t want that to sound selfish, I have a nice home and garden to spend time in, local wildlife on my doorstep, I have food on the table and I have the technology to keep me entertained and in contact with friends.

But, mentally I have been a wreck. I’ve found it hard to concentrate on wildlife. Actually, I have spent time watching and being around wildlife but I’ve struggled to pick up a camera or write any words.

I think it’s felt as if me posting a photo of a bird and writing a few words didn’t mean very much in the big scheme of things during a global pandemic.

On a more positive note I’ve just started back at college and slowly feeling more optimistic, so hopefully I’ll be back posting on a more regular basis.

Posted in Blogging, Covid-19, fox, nature, outdoors, photography, Stay at home, Stay Wild, Uk nature, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

School Grounds #EcoSchoolsAtHome Frugi 10 day challenge

Frugi and Eco-schools England have launched a 10 days #EcoschoolsAtHome challenge.

Each day there are different challenges you can download and take part in.

Today is Day 7 and it’s all about going back to school.

Many children and young adults have been away from school since March and have only recently been attending part-time.

None of us really know what September will bring, including me. I have been off college, but remote learning since the beginning of the restrictions.

Head over to the websites to find out more about the school grounds challenge and a chance to win a copy of Get Your Boots On as part of a Back To School kit.

Eco-schools           or      Frugi

Get Your Boots On - Cover

 

Posted in Blogging, Books, Competition, Covid-19, Get Your Boots On, outdoors, Uncategorized, Wildlife, wildlife books | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment