Snowy local patch

Since I’ve been blogging about my local patch, I can’t remember a day when it has snowed so much.

Everything looks so different with a covering of white, familiar paths disappear, the trees hang to the ground with the weight of the snow, and through the silence, every so often, a loud crack can be heard as the weight becomes too much and a branch snaps and falls.

Through the haze created by the falling snowflakes, three roe deer are lying, waiting for the weather to pass. When they spot me, they stand up, shake off their layer of white and head towards the woods.

Under the shadow of the huge oak trees gather flocks of Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds, turning over the leaf litter looking for food.

Heading back to the house the air is filled with the sound of Long tailed tits, their high pitched twittering following me all the way back to the garden.

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Posted in Blogging, fox, mammals, outdoors, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Interview with an author – Papiliones by Jonathan Bradley

Something different for my blog this time.

I recently interviewed Jonathan Bradley about his book Papiliones that has just been published.

I asked Jonathan about getting young people interested in butterflies.

 

1. I understand you started writing poems aged 14, did you become interested in wildlife around the same time or earlier?

I think I was interested in wildlife at an early age, perhaps 4 or 5 years old. My mother used to feed the birds outside our kitchen window, and I remember being fascinated that they came so near to us, on the other side of the window. Later on we moved as a family to the South of France when I was about 9 years old. We saw creatures there that to me were exotic and unusual. There was a tortoise in our garden that I used to feed on lettuce leaves. One day it disappeared, and my mother thought that our gardener had eaten it. I was very shocked. When it rained enormous slugs and snails used to appear from underneath stones. I recall also seeing scorpions, colourful beetles and very long centipedes in our garden. At the seaside were hermit crabs, and sometime octopuses that frightened me a bit. All the same I loved seeing, and sometimes holding, the wild creatures we found there.

2. As a child who was your greatest inspiration?

Probably my parents, who were both nature-lovers and were especially interested in birds. My father once found an orphaned sparrow chick in our garden after we returned to England later in my youth, and he fed and nursed it for several weeks until it was bigger and stronger. He even gave it a name – Rupert. I was also enchanted by the TV and radio programmes of Johnny Morris, who must have inspired a love of the natural world in many young people at that time. My parents and some of my teachers at school also interested me in literature and science, and by the time I was about 10 years old I started writing my first book, which was never finished!

3. In your book, I like the way you have mixed factual information about the butterflies with your poems. Do you think mixing Natural History with art and poetry and other school subjects is a good way to inspire more young people to learn about the wildlife around them?

Yes, definitely. We human beings, and all that we do, are part of the natural world, and so every school subject is in some way connected with Natural History. At a simple level, if young people go out and observe wildlife, and then record, draw, paint, or write about wildlife it can arouse their interest and deepen their connection with other living things. As well as that, artists and writers over the centuries from ancient times have created beautiful depictions of the natural world that can themselves be inspirational.

4. Do you think that there is enough Natural History taught in schools?

I find this question difficult to answer because I have no recent direct experience. I suspect, though, that the answer is probably “no”, because Natural History may well be squeezed out of school learning time by the need to pass tests and exams in other subjects.

5. If you could go back and give your teenage self some advice what would it be?

I had a rather unusual teenage life, some of which was spent at a boarding school. If I had been offered advice by my older self as a time traveller I probably wouldn’t have listened to it! With hindsight I would have spent less time being anxious about being a bit different, I would have tried not to do quite so many different things simultaneously, and been more persistent in my writing and music-making. The internet didn’t exist in my teenage years so I wasn’t able to write a blog like your excellent one!

(Photos not from the book)

Papiliones by Jonathan Bradley is available from all good bookshops including online at Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones and others. ISBN: 9781911589211 RRP: £15.95.

Link to book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Papiliones-Choir-Poetry-Jonathan-Bradley/dp/1911589210/

Jonathan is also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PapilionesBook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jonathan-Bradley-author-of-Papiliones-377798642634270/

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Attachment issues

One thing that I find difficult to do while enjoying wildlife is not get emotionally attached.

If you have been following my blog for long enough now you will know that I do get emotionally attached and that when something happens to that animal I normally get upset.

My main inspiration for taking up wildlife photography was watching the DVD Halcyon River Diaries by Charlie Hamilton James.

During one of those episodes you see Charlie getting upset over a Kingfisher which had a broken wing and then later died. In another episode he is filming a family of ducks when one of the duckings becomes separated from its mother and the other ducklings. Charlie talks about the importance about not getting emotional attached, and as a wildlife photographer or film maker, not to get involved. However in the next scene he chases over the vegetable patch to help save the duckling.

This week, after the fox I had been following died, someone made a comment on social media ‘What about the ugly animals?’.

I don’t think attachment has anything to do with a animal being cute or ugly but how much you get to know that animal. If you follow an animal over a period of time, whether watching a butterfly or a ladybird for a few minutes or a badger or fox for years, as a wildlife photographer you become part of its life and it becomes part of yours, you watch its behaviour, learn a tiny amount about its struggles, overtime you learn its habits, its routine, you share events with it and you begin to love it. Then when something happens to that creature it is hard not to let it affect you.

Thank you for all the kind comments, retweets, follows and likes this week.

Around my local patch

Posted in Animals, Badgers, birds, Blogging, fox, mammals, nature, photography, Uk nature, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Quick visit to Farmoor reservoir

On Sunday I felt like getting away from my local patch, so I persuaded mum to drive me down to Farmoor reservoir a couple of miles away.

The sun was shining but the wind, as always at Farmoor, was bitterly cold.

There wasn’t much of interest around, so I just spent the morning taking photos of Coots which were all at the top end, out of the wind.

Coots dive down up to 2 metres to find food such as pondweed, snails and insect larvae. Coots bring their food to the surface before eating it, which can result in them chasing each other around trying to steal food.

Coots

Disappeared

Coot diving

Posted in birds, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Goodbye Fantastic Mrs Fox

I’m angry and upset to say the least.

About half an hour ago I left the house, on a sunny afternoon, to go out to take photos but came face to face with this.

Unfortunately I believe she was legally shot.

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I’ve followed this fox family over the year. I watched them play, have cubs and in turn watched the cubs grow up. I watched them wind the badgers up and mouse in the field next door to my house, caught glimpses of them through the brambles and saw them visit our garden.

Now the vixen is gone.

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I hope the rest of them manage to stay as far away as possible.

Here are some happier photos.

 

 

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Badgers are ingenious

A couple of weeks ago I noticed part of the fencing where I walk looked like it had been trodden on. On close inspection I could see a badger trail leading up to and away from the fence.

Normally the badgers go under the fencing using a combination of digging slightly down while pushing the fence up – see bottom photos.

This time they have gone between the two types of fencing, over the rabbit fencing which is about a 0.5m high but under the deer fencing.

I put the trail camera out to see which badger it was and how they did it. The first night I put the trail camera too close to the fencing and it didn’t trigger quick enough, the badger was already half over before it started filming.

Last night the trail camera caught on film who it was. I would recognise that tail anywhere. It is Arrow.

Also the direction she came from, indicates it is Arrow, as two years ago when she was pregnant and Cookie was still the dominant female, Arrow left the main sett and made a home a short distance away to have her cubs. Now Cookie is gone, Arrow still visits the main sett but prefers to live in her new home.

You can see in the film clip that Arrow finds it no trouble to go over the fence.

 

Place where a badger goes over the fence

Sign of a badger going over the fence

Normal badger way of going under the fence.

badger hole under the fence

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Posted in Badgers, mammals, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, trail camera, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slow down for badgers

For those of you that have followed my blog for a while you will have probably heard of Cookie.

Cookie was one of my local badgers who died after being hit by a car, in April 2016, just up the road from my house.

https://appletonwildlifediary.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/the-story-of-cookie/

Since Cookie died she has become the mascot for Oxfordshire Badger Group

Yesterday at the Oxford Vegan Fair a new ‘Cookie’ mug and Christmas card was launched.

The money raised by Oxfordshire Badger Group goes to help protect badgers in Oxfordshire by:
Increasing public awareness
Advising on badger problems
Protecting badgers and setts
Rescuing injured badgers

If you live or travel through Oxfordshire you can report badger sightings or badger road traffic accidents using this link

https://www.oxonbadgergroup.org.uk/report/sightings-setts/

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The Badger Trust run the ‘Give Badgers A Brake‘ campaign, to try and make Britain’s roads safer for all wildlife.

You can help too by:

SLOWING DOWN – Wildlife can run out in front of a car at anytime. At this time of year badgers are beginning to forage further afield and are more likely to cross roads in search of food.

REPORTING – If you do come across a dead badger on the side of the road, please report it to Oxfordshire Badger Group (if in Oxfordshire), The Badger Trust or an organisation like Project Splatter. All the data goes to help find out high risk areas for wildlife and in turn help campaign for signs, bridges or tunnels.

Posted in Badgers, mammals, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments