This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. I am a 16 year old young naturalist with a passion for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. I have been blogging since May 2013 and you can read my old blog posts at www.appletonwildlifediary.blogspot.co.uk
As many of you know Get Your Boots On was published nearly a year ago on 3rd July 2019.
On my social media, I’ve started doing a count down. It’s 4 days until a whole year since Get Your Boots On was released out into the wild.
There were plenty of things I enjoyed about writing and putting the book together but one of my favourite parts was talking to other people about their passions, their jobs, their experiences, and knowledge.
Here are a few of the people that shared their thoughts. Huge thanks to all of them.
Get Your Boots On is available from Bookshops and online
Over the past few weeks of dry weather, we have had quite a few visitors to the garden pond.
First, a female badger turned up and regularly came 5 or 6 times a night to drink. She is lactating so has cubs somewhere. We think it is Arrow, the female from a sett on my local patch.
Mum has been studying the film footage and has worked out that at certain times she comes she has lots of milk, she must then go back and feed her cubs before returning again. Mum is trying to work out how long she leaves her cubs between feeding.
This is the female from last night, front and side view
A few weeks later a second badger started visiting. This one’s left eye doesn’t reflect in the light and it has a damaged right ear.
At first we thought it might be Pirate, a badger we have been watching for a long time with a damaged left eye but looking closer at the photos of him from 2018 the white stripe on the side of his face is much longer than our new visitor.
Last night we had a third badger turn up. This one has a split right ear but both eyes are good.
As you can see the ear is split in two.
Looking back over old footage, I filmed the same badger back in February when the scar over his eye was much bigger.
I use this identification sheet from Badgerlands to note down all the different markings that I see on the badgers.
I’m trying to come up with a way, maybe a template on how to measure the white and/or black stripe. The downside is the badger has to be in the same position.
This is the same badger but the template looks different because the badger is at different angles. Although there is still the same bump over the eye and the stripe ends in the same place around the bottom of the ear.
This one is much more square at the nose and dips down much further than the ear lobe, but could be due to having some ear missing
I would be interested to know if anyone has already done studies in identifying different badgers.
Today the wind direction changed and the rain showers arrived. Although the temperature dropped by around 10 degrees and the rain showers were on and off all day it wasn’t enough rain to make a difference to the local wildlife.
Petrichor – Definition: “A pleasant, distinctive smell frequently accompanying the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather in certain regions.” ( Oxford English Dictionary)
Today starts another 30 Days Wild run by The Wildlife Trust. I’ve taken part in this for a number of years now, but if you haven’t heard of it before you can find more details by clicking HERE
During May we take part in No Mow May and at the beginning of May our garden looked like this
Now it looks like this
No Mow May is run by Plantlife and yesterday we took part in ‘Every Flower Counts’.
To do this you randomly select a 1 metre square grid and count the flowers within the grid, fill in a few questions on the Plantlife website and you get a Personal nectar score for the garden. Here’s mine.
The same as last year, we won’t be cutting the lawn until after the summer.
During lockdown and the current restrictions I’ve teamed up with family run Kennedy Wild Bird Food for a guest blog post on attracting wildlife to your garden and a chance to win a bundle of bird food and feeders.
Many people strive for a beautiful garden, but no garden would be complete without the sound of birds chirping and singing. Birds, and wildlife in general bring sound, colour and charisma to a garden.
Not only that, with declining numbers of birds, butterflies and many other wildlife species, it’s more important that every for us to try to create habits (and food sources) in our garden for as many of the Great Britain’s beautiful creatures as we can.
It’s no easy feat attracting wildlife to your garden, so here are a few tips and tricks to help transform your garden into a safe little haven for all kinds of wild birds.
1. Ensure you have enough plants and shrubbery
This one’s an easy one for the keen gardeners out there this one is something you’ll definitely be onboard with, but it is a fact that manicured and empty lawns are not of interest to birds and smaller ground creatures. They need shrubs, trees and climbers to pique their interest and encourage them to make your garden their new home. In fact, hedges are of interest to the likes of hedgehogs as well as birds by adding in a place for them to nest. It also gives them the ability to catch their own food as lots of insects tend to arrive wherever there is shrubbery, plants and hedges.
2. Provide them with food
One of the easiest things you can do to attract wildlife to your garden is ensure they have a constant food supply. Once the birds and bees and everything in between begin to associate your garden with food, you’ll have friends for life. Use a variety of feeding techniques and locations to attract as many birds as possible into your garden. Some common visitors may include Finches, Tits, Starlings, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Hedgehogs and Robins.
A little tip: In winter fat balls provide a great calorie boost for hungry birds, and in the breeding season putting out sunflower hearts will provide an excellent protein source for birds with hungry chicks to feed.
3. Make sure they have a safe environment
Just as people like to feel safe in their homes, so do our little friends! Somewhere secure away from possible predators and harm will make sure your garden is not only a place to feed for these animals, but a place to live. Birds especially spend a lot of their lives avoiding garden and won’t stay around for long if they hear a purring cat nearby. So, a great idea is to position feeding stations around the garden and try to place these shelters and feeders in places where the cats can’t reach. Instead, raise the height and put these things in a spot where birds can get a good view of the garden at all times.
4. Ensure they have a clean water supply
Wildlife enjoy a relaxing bath as much as everyone else does, especially the birds. That’s why it’s nice to create a sloping bath in your garden, which will encourage some feathers friends to stop by and use it. Remember to keep the water clean and refill it as often as you can. Make sure the water doesn’t go deeper than 10cm and ensure to add some flat stone in the centre of the bath. If you want to go the extra step, try giving them a nice steppingstone so they can jump out and fly away if they would like to.
5. Nest Boxes
All wildlife can benefit from nest boxes, particularly smaller birds who struggle to compete with their larger friends for a home. It’s all about the location, after all, and birds and creatures will be grateful for the long-term shelter and homes. According to the Royal society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), over 60 species have used nest boxes in the past. The most popular users include the likes of Robins, House Sparrows, Blue Tits and Goldfinches.
If you would like a chance of winning the bundle of the Kennedy Wild Bird Food and feeders pictured below to start attracting wildlife to your garden.
Just answer the following question:
What has been your favourite bird that has visited your garden during lockdown?
Leave your answer in the comments below by 7th June 2020.
One lucky winner will be chosen to win this prize bundle, and notified on 8th June 2020.