Busy garden

It is always interesting to see what happens in the garden over night. However, last night seem to be a particularly busy night for wildlife and not so wildlife.

Glad to see my local vixen is still around as she hasn’t been visiting as regularly as normal. Also nice to see a quick visit from one of the Muntjac. Not as good to see, we had visits from 2 cats and one dog!

The Birdsy camera has been picking up around 150 clips a day including this brilliant one of 12 Long tailed tits

 

Last Thursday evening I visited Film Oxford for one of their Open Screen nights. This is where film makers from beginners to professionals can show short 10 minute films or clips from films or even parts of films in the making.

The idea is people can show their work for discussion, answer questions and get to meet other film makers and enthusiasts.

This was the first time I had been and I found everyone really welcoming. My favourite film of the evening was one called ‘Never’ by Mohammad Ali Husainy.

 

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Slavonian grebe

At the beginning of December a Slavonian Grebe turned up at Farmoor reservoir. Due to other commitments and Christmas the first chance I got to visit was yesterday.

As often at Farmoor, the wind was wiping across the causeway, so we made the guess that the grebe would be in the top corner of F2 in the shelter from the wind. We were right!

Yesterday was grey and overcast so I wasn’t really happy with the photographs I got, so as Farmoor is only 5 minutes from my house, we popped back down today.

Fun Fact -Slavonian grebes regularly eat their own feathers to act as a plug in their stomach. This acts as a filter to hold the fish bones until they can be digested. (Source: National Geographic)

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Bird watching, whether making a special visit or watching birds in your own garden can be a great way to relieve stress and help your mental health.

Joe Harkness, wrote an amazing book called Bird Therapy about the ‘therapeutic benefits of birdwatching for people experiencing difficulties with their mental health’. 

Bird therapy

More recently Joe has produced a teaching resource for Key stage 3 and 4, as well as adults.

The resource is full of activities to do, both indoor and outdoor, that put into practice some of the issues dealt with in his book.

For more details, click on the link below.

Bird Therapy – Teaching Resources

 

Posted in Animals, birds, Blogging, Books, Environment, Get Your Boots On, Local patch, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, photography, Stay Wild, Uk nature, Uncategorized, Wildlife, wildlife books, Wildlife photography, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2019 Round up and HNY

I’ll start with the highlight of 2019.

The publishing of Get Your Boots On. An idea that had been in my head since 2016 and after years of writing, and then months of editing by the amazing Dived Up Publishing finally in July Get Your Boots On was out for the public to buy. Both very exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.

Get Your Boots On - Cover

Back to the round up of 2019.

January started with a Rose-coloured Starling, a badger rescue and, as always, The Big Garden Bird watch.

February saw days of snow and my first Climate Strike

In March following in the footsteps of friends Sophie and Kyra at Hedgehog Friendly Town I helped highlight the netting of hedgerows by developers and came face to face with a young muntjac deer.

April was a busy month with small mammal surveys, meetings about restoring the wild flowers in my local churchyard, the swallows arriving back and the first sightings of 2019’s badger cubs.

‘Say No to Mow in May‘ saw us leave our front garden and stop cutting the grass. Within a few weeks the grass turned in to a wild flower patch full of insects, bees, small mammals and the local foxes.

While I took part in 30 Days Wild in June, I didn’t blog very much as I had my GCSE’s. Towards the end of June I started going into schools to talk about wildlife and Get Your Boots On

July was hectic. A huge thank you to everyone who made the book launch special, especially Hugh Warwick who hosted the evening and entertained everyone.

July also included a visit to an RSPCA centre as part of #GenerationKind and a visit to a Badger exhibition in Somerset.

As always August means Birdfair and a great chance to meet up with friends and make new ones.

During September I started college, but before the beginning of term we spent some time in Devon and the A Focus on Nature conference took place in London.

October was busy again, with a visit to Bristol, a Hedgehog day, fallow deer on my local patch, watching some inspiring films, walking in Wytham woods and talking to a Cub scout group.

During November I saw harvest mice for the first time and started trialling a Birdsy camera in my garden.

December seemed to be full of starling murmurations but also joining in with #Foxingday and the #ReThinkHS2 walk.

A huge thank you to everyone who takes time to read this blog and follows me on social media. I realised looking back on 2019’s posts that I seem to put a lot more on Twitter than I do on this blog. If you have Twitter you can find me @Appletonwild

A special thank you to those who have bought my book Get Your Boots On, I really appreciate all the great feedback and support. A special mention to Ben Garrod, who as ever has been amazing.

Wishing you all a wild 2020 and let’s see how much we can protect the wildlife around us.

Posted in Animals, Badgers, birds, Blogging, Books, Climate strike, Environment, Every child wild, fox, garden, Get Your Boots On, Happy New Year, hedgerows, insects, Local patch, mammals, nature, Nature Books, Nature reserve, outdoors, photography, Stay Wild, trail camera, Uncategorized, Wildflowers, Wildlife, wildlife books, Wildlife photography, Wildlife Rescue | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Starling murmurations Brighton pier

Brighton is one of the more commonly known places to go to watch Starling murmurations.

Of course, the murmurations vary each day and it is luck as to whether you catch a large murmuration or not. It can depend on the weather, in particular the wind.

The background also plays a part. Having a gorgeous orange sunset really shows up the black twists and turns of the murmuration.

This was the first time I’ve witnessed a murmuration over the sea and having the waves crashing in the background certainly made it feel different.

It isn’t the same as Otmoor or Ham Wall where the huge numbers of starlings sound like an aeroplane passing overhead, and I’m not sure how the numbers compare but at Brighton there seemed to be 3 or 4 separate murmurations going on simultaneously rather than one massive one.

The first couple of photos were taken from standing on the groyne between the two piers

Starlings on pier

 

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After half of the starlings had roosted, a smaller number continued to murmurate. The next couple of photos were taken from under the pier itself.

 

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This is where the starlings finally roost, up under the pier.

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Posted in Animals, birds, Blogging, Books, coast, Environment, Get Your Boots On, nature, outdoors, photography, Stay Wild, Uk nature, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

HS2 – Stand for the trees

Today saw well over 1500 people walking around Colne Valley and Denham with Chris Packham and campaign organisers of STOP HS2.

Colne Valley and Denham are two of many areas that are being affected by the construction of HS2, the planned high speed railway between the city centres of London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds. This 345 miles of track will cut through irreplaceable ancient woodlands and destroy many wildlife sites including 10 Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Many species such as badgers, water vole, otters, bats, hedgehogs, freshwater crayfish, stag beetle, smooth newt, great crested newt, common frog, slow-worm, common lizard, rare butterflies and breeding birds will be affected. As well as thousands upon thousands of mature trees.

For more information go to http://stophs2.org/

https://standforthetrees.org/

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Posted in Animals, Badgers, Blogging, Environment, Get Your Boots On, nature, Nature reserve, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Starling murmurations

One of the most spectacular scenes during the cold, often dull, winter months is a starling murmuration.

Thousands upon thousands of starlings gather, after coming in from miles around. They create amazing patterns in the sky for about half an hour before coming down to roost.

These photos and clips were taken at RSPB Otmoor near Oxfordshire, but there are many other sites around the country.

If you are visiting Otmoor, please lift share or go on a mid week afternoon as the car park is limited and reached by a single track lane which can become blocked on a busy weekend.

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As well as the starlings, there’s plenty to see at Otmoor including thousands of Lapwings and Golden Plovers.

Low flying geeseLapwingsGolden plover and lapwingsHareGolden plover

Posted in Animals, birds, Blogging, Books, Environment, Get Your Boots On, Local patch, mammals, nature, Nature reserve, outdoors, Oxfordshire, photography, RSPB, Stay Wild, Uk nature, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Pit 60 Standlake

I had an afternoon off college so mum and I decided to visit a place we had never been to before.

I’d heard of Pit 60 before as it comes up a few times on the Oxon Birding website, most recently for a Great White Egret.

Afternoon sun

The trail marked by mosaic animals and birds leads around Pit number 28, but due to hedging and fencing it isn’t easy to see much of the water.

Tunnel

However, plenty of birds to spot in the hedgerow including blackbirds, long tailed tits, robins, redwings and a red kite

Red Kite

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We walked up to the hides, but hadn’t realised that you needed a key. A quick Google search later showed that you can purchase a key from http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/lowerwindrushvalleyproject

Walking back down the path, a movement in the hedgerow caught my eye and a fox, nose to the ground, came wandering across the path. It continued to sniff around before looking up and noticing me.

Mum had taken a couple of steps back under a tree, out of the way while I took some photos.

After the fox had disappeared, mum stepped out from under the tree when a large white bird dropped off the branch above her head and as it did, it pooped, some of which went down mum’s back.

It was a Barn owl! We stood in amazement as it swooped down the path and up over the hedge. As it circled over the lake, the late afternoon sun caught its wings making a mixture of white and gold.

It all happened so quick, I didn’t get a photo.

Right place, right time

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Posted in Animals, Blogging, Environment, fox, Get Your Boots On, Local patch, mammals, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, Stay Wild, Uk nature, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments