30 Days Wild 2017

I always like seeing the first Tweets from The Wildlife Trusts saying 30 Days Wild will be coming round again. This will be the third year that I have taken part and each year I see the greater benefit of getting out into nature. I found the first year the most challenging, fitting in something wild every day didn’t go quite to plan and I did miss a few days but I still gained from the days I did. Last year I was more prepared, I knew when I would be busy with work and planned easier tasks for those days like finding a creepy crawly! 

I’ve found spending 30 days taking a closer look at what’s around you, makes you pay more attention for the rest of the year, noticing far more than previous. As research has shown getting out into nature helps both body and mind. I do find that getting out in nature is a great stress reliever, if I don’t get out enough I notice the effects, a simple hour out at the local park or on my patch does the trick.  I am really looking forward to June and having a great reason to get out everyday 🙂

This year I have a few days planned already; visit a minimum of 3 different Nature Reserves, visit a new birding site, a litter pick up (June 11th is 2 minute beach clean / litter pick up day) and complete a Great British Bee count.  I like that some days don’t need to be planned, nature naturally comes your way, like finding a ladybird on the window sill or Swifts screeching past the window. What will you be doing for 30 Days Wild?

My Patch – April 2017

At the beginning of April there was still Swan activity in the field, approximately 40 Mute Swans were feeding on the shoots but by mid April had moved on.  While they were still there they were joined one evening by a heard of 22 Roe Deer. It was a fairly warm evening and they were primarily led down in the middle of the field.  They stayed until dusk, when they got up and started to graze. I believe they moved on when it got dark, but it was too dark for me to see where they had moved to!  I like it when the Deer are in the field, I know it means that they are safe. The land owner has an agreement with the farmer that no wildlife is to be harmed on the land.  This means when the culling season is upon us they can’t be shot in this field.

The middle of April I decided to take a closer look in one of the hedgerows, it didn’t go to plan.  I had company on my walk that isn’t the type of company that goes with looking for birds – a cat! My friend lives in one of the houses adjacent to my patch and has a cat that lives outdoors.  She’s very friendly and decided that coming for a walk with me was the way she would spend her evening.  I didn’t expect her to walk all the way down the track and into a copse with me, then walk all the way back! If I stopped to look at something she stopped and waited for me! All I saw was a Robin at the top of a tree and a Rabbit who was quite a distance away thankfully! 

My attention has been drawn to the birds in the garden, who are nesting in my friends house. As far as we know there are 2 Jackdaw nests and 3 Starling nests all located in the roof, be it the chimneys where the Jackdaws have made home or underneath the roof tiles where the Starlings are. I’m looking forward to seeing their fledglings in the garden 🙂

Isle of Portland – April 2017

For my last day at the coast I decided to go to the Isle of Portland. I knew there were a lot of migrants coming in so thought I’d go and see what was about. Now I knew I was probably going to struggle identifying some of them but it was worth having a go. 

It was a lovely sunny morning when I reached the car park and there was only a light wind. My first spot was in the car park, a Song Thrush. I then headed to the cliff edge, where a kind man pointed out 2 Purple Sandpipers. These were a first for me and I slowly managed to climb down some of the rocks to get on to a lower platform to get a little closer, although they were still a distance away. While watching the sea and cliffs I spotted, Gannet, Razorbills and Guillemots. Thankfully I spent a weekend at RSPB Bempton Cliffs last year so could easily identify them. 

After lunch I headed over to the grassland areas to look for Wheatears, I had never seen one and wanted to find them. I was sat watching some vegetation when a man asked me if I had seen the Little Owls. I didn’t even know there were any! He showed me where they had been seen in the morning and half an hour later we saw an Owl! This was the biggest surprise of the day. I had never seen a Little Owl before and I stayed watching for as long as it was around. It was a lovely experience 🙂

I watched many little birds flitting around at the time but was unsure of what they were; being able to identify them from my photos when I got home, I now know. I did get a little stuck with this one but now I realise it’s another Cetti’s Warbler 🙂

My full sightings list:
Birds: Song Thrush, Sand Martin, Purple Sandpiper, Gannet, Little Owl, Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Dunnock, Fulmar, Guillemot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Razorbill

RSPB Radipole – April 2017

My second day at the coast was spent at RSPB Radipole.  I had seen online the locations where certain species had been seen on site so I had an idea of where I wanted to go. I headed out towards the new screen.  Having never been to Radipole before I was a little puzzled by the number of people with shopping bags – it all became clear when I realised there is a housing estate on the other side; what a lovely route to walk into town. It was an overcast day and I soon realised on arrival at the screen that I should have been better prepared and worn more layers! The wind was blowing in the right direction to come straight through the viewing slats!

The Marsh Harriers were active, with three riding the thermals at one point.  They didn’t come over the screen on this occasion, staying on the far end of the site, it was lovely to see them gliding gracefully across the sky, I kept thinking about the houses that look over the site wondering if the people there stop to watch.  There were a couple of Little Egret and a Grey Heron who were constantly moving around feeding in front of the screen. 

I finally saw a Cetti’s Warbler, I had been hearing them all day but they are so difficult to locate.  I saw something fly into the base of a bush, I got down to its level and could just see it though the twigs and leaves.  It isn’t a great photo, but it is the first one I’ve actually seen! I would have thought there must be about 15 on site.

When visiting an RSPB site I always have lunch in their Café, that most of the sites have, I think it’s a great way to help fund the charity and also help local suppliers; they always use local produce where possible.  The food, drinks and especially cakes are always of a superb standard ☺

It was sad to see that the Mute Swan next to the Discovery Centre no longer had eggs, there was a Mallard sat on the nest when I was there. I don’t know why they were gone but I did hear someone say it could have been rats and later during the afternoon I saw a Brown Rat so I guess that could explain it.  I liked seeing the Hooded Merganser trying to take control of the waters and chasing the Tufted Ducks at every turn.  He has now been living there for 10 years, he obviously found a good home when he flew off course all that time ago.  

Late afternoon I headed to the concrete bridge to watch the Swallows over the reeds.  I saw something out of the corner of my eye, got the camera lined up, took one shot and it was gone – it was a Bearded Tit!  Unfortunately it had a reed in front of it but I am still please with the shot, it’s the first picture I have managed to get of one actually in reeds!  RSPB Leighton Moss is a great place to take pictures of them on the grit trays.  The Swallows were not so easy to get a shot of!    

My full sightings list:
Birds: Gadwall, Canada geese, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Swallows, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Mallard, Coot, Teal, Magpie, Great Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Carrion Crow, Tufted Ducks, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great-crested Grebe, Dunnock, Bearded Tit, Hooded Merganser, Blackbird
Mammals: Brown Rat 
Butterflies: Speckled Wood

RSPB Lodmoor – April 2017

I decided it was time to take a few days off work, so that’s what I did just before Easter and headed to the coast.  I have been following Weymouth Wetlands on Twitter for a while now, knowing that it would be a destination I would be visiting. I think Twitter is great for researching what wildlife you can spot around the country, specifically when you are going to a named site.  

I arrived in Weymouth in the afternoon and quickly visited the Discovery Centre to have a look at their recent sightings board before moving on to Lodmoor.  Lodmoor is about 4 miles along the coast from the Discovery Centre and really easy to find.  Both of the car parks for the RSPB sites in Weymouth are council owned so make sure you take change with you.  The worse part it deciding how long you think you are going to stay!

I decided to walk the Marsh Trail and the Reedbed Trail which join together to make a loop.  One of my first sightings was a Canada Goose sat on a nest on an island fairly close to the path, it was nice to see. There were quite a few people out in the reserve, so I walked on until I found a free bench to sit on.  I could see, over to the left a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits but they flew off before I could get a proper look.  They did fly back over later and I managed to grab a quick photograph.

I was suddenly aware of movement to my left and a Rabbit hopped out of the grass, it didn’t seem bothered by me which is always concerning.  As I walked passed it only moved a few feet, it looked like it had been hit in the head, but I am more inclined to think it had Mixamytosis 🙁

It was a lovely sunny day though and as I moved along the Reedbed Trail I became aware of the Swallows that were flying overhead, my first sighting this year 🙂

There were about 20 House Sparrows darting in and out of the hedgerow opposite the houses and Blackbirds that kept hoping about on the grass.  All afternoon there was one bird that I heard continually, I had no idea what it was but was sure I was being stalked by it!! I would think I heard approx. 10+ of them on the site.  I am still in the very early stages of learning bird song’s but this one I will now remember – a Cetti’s Warbler! 

I ended my afternoon with a quick walk across the road to the beach, no trip to the coast would be right without seeing the sea 🙂

My full sightings list:
Birds: Canada Goose (1 on nest), Shelduck, Coot, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Black-tailed Godwit, Mallards, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Dunnock, Pochard, Teal,  Gadwall, Woodpigeon, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Goldfinch, Magpie, Great Tit, Swallow, Grey Heron, Carrion Crow, heard Cetti’s Warbler, Black-headed Gull
Mammals: Rabbit
Butterflies: Speckled Wood