Churchyard Wildlife

Over the past few weeks I’ve been putting together a short film to promote the wildlife in my local churchyard.

 

Posted in birds, Environment, insects, Local patch, Oxfordshire, Uncategorized, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Wildlife photography | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Swallows are back

A couple of days ago the sound of twittering and warbling reappeared over the garden.

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The Swallows have returned. The bird above is possibly an older male, who are the first to return to a nesting site. The females can be up to two weeks later in returning.

For as long as I can remember, each summer swallows have nested in my neighbours disused pig-sty.

I’ve spend many hours watching them darting across the field, over the gardens and in and out of the nest site. Each nest can take over 1000 trips of bringing in nest material.

Swallows that spend the summer in the UK, spend their winter in South Africa. Travelling up through the Sahara or following the West coast of Africa, through Spain, the Pyrenees and France.

Flying by day, finding food while they can, they can cover up to 200 miles per day, at speeds of between 17 and 22 mph.

It can be a dangerous journey, and many die from exhaustion and starvation so I’m always really excited to hear the tell tale sounds of their return.

 

Here’s some footage I took a couple of years ago on the electric cable that runs over my garden.

 

 

 

 

Posted in birds, Environment, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, Rural life, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Small mammal survey in woodland

Over the weekend I helped out Oxon Mammals who were surveying small mammal populations in woodlands as part of a larger survey for the Mammal Society.

50 Longworth traps were set out in pairs over a 5 x 5 grid, 15m apart on Friday morning, then checked and reset Friday evening, Saturday morning and evening and Sunday morning and evening.

The traps were set with apple for moisture, seeds for food, plus shrew food and hay for warmth and bedding. The traps were covered with bracken for extra warm over night and protection from the sun during the day.

The corner of the whole grid was marked with canes, and blue ribbon marked where each pair of traps where laid.

Each small mammal caught was identified, sexed, weighed and had its fur clipped so we would be able to tell if it was re-captured.

The fur clipping was quite a complicated system of combinations, but each combination was logged and checked every time another mouse or vole was caught.

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Over the whole weekend 43 animals in total were caught
25 bank voles
2 field voles
16 wood mice

15 were caught more than once and two of the Bank voles were caught three times.

It was also interesting to note how far the recaptures had travelled if they weren’t caught in the same trap.

 

Thanks to my mum who took the photos and footage while I was helping with the survey

Posted in Animals, Blogging, Citizen science, Environment, mammals, nature, Oxfordshire, photography, survey, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Climate Strike April 2019

Even though it was the Easter Holidays many people were still out in Oxford raising awareness of the issues with Climate Change. It’s essential to carry on striking even though we are not missing school. It shows those people who claim we only do it to miss lessons that we are passionate about the world we live in.

The atmosphere was as ever positive but with a serious message to share. Urgent action needs to be taken. The aim of these strikes is to have the whole of the UK declare a climate emergency, to get people discussing the issues and most importantly to change the way they act.

 

 

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Muntjac deer

We have a small number of Muntjac’s on my local patch, a few of them are quite bold and are often reported in gardens around the village eating flowers, annoying or entertaining the householders.

Many of them are shy and I only get glimpses of them in the wood as they dart for cover.

Some hide in hedgerows, like this young one with its mum.

Here are a few facts about Muntjacs

  • The Reeves muntjac or Chinese muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)  is not a native deer to the UK
  • It was brought to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire in 1894
  • Native to South East China
  • They stand shoulder height 45-52 cm
  • Males have tusks which are elongated canine teeth
  • They eat ivy, bramble, shoots, flowers, fruit, nuts, dead leaves and fungi.
  • They can live between 10 and 13 years
  • They are known as the ‘Barking deer’
  • They only have one baby, but can breed all year round
  • Muntjac have two pairs of scent glands on the face, the ones just below the eyes are easily visible. Both glands are used to mark their territories and boundaries
  • Being a non-native species Muntjac are not protected in the UK and are part of the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019

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I’m pleased to let you know that you can now Pre-order my debut book ‘Get Your Boots On’ on Amazon UK where you can see a preview few pages.

It will also be available from Waterstones and hopefully independent book shops

Posted in Animals, Blogging, Local patch, mammals, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Wildflower Meadow

At the weekend, as a break from studying, I spent an hour sat taking photos in a wildflower meadow.

An hour passed by very quickly while watching the Red Kites and Buzzards soar high on the thermals and butterflies flitting from flower to flower.

Only some of the early flowers have started to appear but even so with the sun shining overhead the grass was alive with insects, especially solitary bees.

Most of the UK’s bees are solitary bees and with 267 species of bee in the UK I had to ask on Twitter which type of bees I’d taken photos of.

Solitary bees do not have a queen or live in colonies. They do nest close to each other and in the clip you can see how many are on the ground.

 

Solitary bees do not produce honey or wax.

Solitary bees are brilliant pollinators as they don’t have pollen baskets to carry pollen so they drop lots, therefore pollinating as they go.

Two types I saw were the Yellow-legged Mining-bee (Andrena flavipes) and the Buffish Mining Bee (Andrena nigroaenea)

The wildflower meadow was made up of the following plants; Yarrow, Common Knapweed, Ladys bedstraw, meadow vetchling, Oxeye daisy, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Cowslip, Sealheal, Meadow Buttercup, Yellow rattle, Red Clover, Bladder campion and Common Sorrel.

 

Posted in Animals, Blogging, creepy crawlies, Environment, insects, nature, Uncategorized, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Wildlife photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Trail camera – badgers and a polecat

I’ve been using my trail camera quite a bit over the past few weeks, mainly at two badger setts.

It’s been good to see some familiar faces and a surprise visitor. A polecat.

Polecats nearly became extinction through persecution, but now can be found in some parts of England, Scotland and Wales. Polecats live in woodlands, along riverbanks and marshy areas. Their main prey is rabbits.

 

This week also saw the Oxon Mammal Group AGM and film night.

Local Mammal groups are a great way to learn from others and gain experience in surveying, trapping and ecology. To find people who share the same interests and, with Oxon Mammal Group, a chance to see a fantastic selection of winter talks and lectures.

Thank you to Oxon mammals for my ‘Golden Bunny’ award

Oxon mammals

After the AGM everybody who wanted to was able to share their favourite films and photographs.

Here is my contribution – a film I made a couple of years ago.

Posted in Animals, Badgers, mammals, Oxfordshire, trail camera, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments