30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 30

We have had hedgehogs visiting the garden for the last three years, I think we have three in total but we only ever see two at the same time.  They vary in size and that is why I think we have three.  Last night each hedgehog headed straight for the water bowls as soon as they entered the garden.  We have been filling them up each night, which is vitally important for them in this hot weather, what they don’t drink over night the birds have as reserve water until the bird bath is topped up in the morning.  

Last night we initially had one hedgehog show and then 15mins later a second turned up.  They didn’t get too close to each other but they didn’t argue.  There were two hedgehogs out the front of the house the other week that were barging each other around and making a lot of noise!  For some reason last night they both ran off at the same time in the same direction, I hove no idea why as nothing showed up on the camera.  We do have a lot of cats who use the garden as a corridor, they generally just pass thought and don’t stop.  Both hedgehogs did return not long after though.   

We know that at least one of the hedgehogs gets to the garden from the road side of the house, we generally know when it arrives as our house rabbit sits and listens, facing the wall it walks next to! the other looks like it comes from the back of the garden through the fence. 

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 29

A few weeks ago I noticed the Oxeye daisy’s at work were in flower. They come up every year and their numbers are strong.

Today I went to see if they had gone over. Many of them had so I broke off two flower heads, thanked the plant and took them home. I plan to distribute the seeds in the garden next to my Patch (I have permission to do this) and also some along the road verge. They have recently cut the grasses that were happily growing, so I thought if a few flowers come up next year it would add to the variety of vegetation. If you don’t count the cow parsley there are actually no flowers growing in the verge at all, I’d like to slowly change this to try and help our pollinators 🙂

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 28

When leaving work tonight I found this cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) in the road.  I have never seen one before but managed to identify it from images I have seen on Twitter.  I learn a lot of plants and insects from other peoples Tweets 🙂  I took a quick picture and then tried to move it, only to realise it was not moving at all and never would again.  I picked it up off of the floor and brought it home.  Normally we get such fleeting glances of insects as they fly by that I thought I would take the opportunity to have a closer look.

Cockchafer are common in the UK and are also know as the May-bug.  They typically appear late April to early May and live for around 6 weeks.  Eggs are laid around June – July, the grubs then feed on roots and tubers for about 3 years until they are about 4cm.  They pupate and emerge as adults in spring.  Their numbers decreased in the 20th century due to pesticide use but their numbers have been bouncing back since the 1980’s with the regulations of pesticide.

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 27

Well today was just a write off really!  My car decided that it no longer wanted to start, the ignition just didn’t want to turn.  I did what it said online to try and release it but no to avail.  I had to call the RAC.  They were very helpful and the man turned up within the target time they gave me.  He managed to get the key to turn, he did the same as what I did but with more force – I was scared of breaking it further – but he had obviously encountered this problem on many occasions before and knew what he was doing  The car is now in the garage waiting for replacement part!  Nothing like starting the day with a bill of a few hundred pounds!

As my day was rather eventful! I didn’t get to do what I had planned for today which was check on the local badgers 🙁  I did however sit and watch the sunset tonight for a little while after watering the garden.  I could hear a hedgehog rustling in the vegetation ☺

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 26

Today’s 30 Days Wild isn’t quite so nice as all the rest.  This morning when I got to the house next to my patch I found a baby robin by the door (I don’t think it had fledged but could be wrong), with a pleased looking cat sat next to it!  

Now normally if he decides to catch anything its mice and rats.  He was a stray that has made himself a home as a farm cat.  After I had told the cat off – not that he listened, I took the robin and buried it in the garden.  I didn’t fancy letting him eat it.  I then noticed him looking in the flower bed at the front of the house and discovered the head and wings of a blue tit!!  He is not in my good books.  I don’t like the fact that he has killed two birds, but I can’t tell him off to severely.  Finally after 8 years he has just plucked up the courage to let people within 2 feet of him and I can actually stroke him now, which with him getting older can only be an advantage.  He is a nice cat, except the bird/mice/rat catching aspect! I’m hoping he doesn’t catch anymore anytime soon.  

I don’t like to think about all the animals he has caught over the years. I guess he does generally eat his prey so in a way it was / is survival instinct for him, but he gets fed, so generally he doesn’t have a need to eat extra items. In the last year another cat has decided to make his home there too. He is very friendly and to our knowledge is too lazy to catch prey, he just shouts at humans for food instead! 

It’s estimated by the Mammal Society that 55 million birds are killed by cats each year! To me that seems like a huge number, especially when so many of our bird species are in decline.  There is however no evidence to show that cats are causing a reduction in numbers as some of the species with the most intense declines would not have a lot of contact with cats.  However any species that already has pressure put on it with loss of habitats for example do not really need added pressure from our feline friends.   

The RSPB suggest putting collars on cats to alert prey to their presence. That has been tried with the friendly cat as he can be picked up, but he hates the collar. He walks backwards to try and take it off when it’s put on, so there is no way he will wear it! and the main prey catcher – well unfortunately I don’t think he will ever be tame enough to even try to put a collar on him. 

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 25

This evening I went with a friend to Bampton Cemetery in Oxfordshire.  They visited a grave while I had a look around the Cemetery.  Filling the watering can was a slow process, the tap produced no more than a dribble. While I was stood waiting for the can to fill, I noticed the ivy that is making its way up the tree by the tap, a robin briefly sat on the wall then quickly flew off once it had noticed me.  Walking back along to the grave I noticed that the horse-chestnut tree has leaf-mining moth damage (you can record this data via an app called Leaf watch where the results are submitted to the Conker Tree Science project).  I recorded this tree last year with roughly the same amount of damage.

I noticed that it also had conkers starting to form.  The squirrels that live there like the conker tree, however they also like that my friend leaves them a pile of hazelnuts when he visits.  They have in the winter traded conkers for hazelnuts! Leaving him the conker and running of with the hazelnut, they are quite friendly in winter! 

There are quite a few birds in the area.  The blackbirds were eating the fruit off of what I think is a Japanese Crab tree and I managed to get a single photo of the song thrush before a passer-by scared it off.  There were blue tits and chaffinches in the branches of the trees and woodpigeons grazing among the grave stones.  

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 24

I had lots of tasks to do today which meant I didn’t have a lot of time free to do much wild.  One thing I do everyday that is important, is watering the birds! 

We have one full sized bird bath and 2 small ‘poppy’s’ which are also filled with water that the smaller birds often use, especially when the pigeons are in the garden.  It is important for birds to have access to water all year round but when its especially hot (22°C here at the moment) the water evaporates quickly so its important to keep an eye on the water level and refresh it as often as needed.  Although I didn’t get any pictures earlier, we had goldfinches having a drink and blue tits having a bath.  The doves turned up late this afternoon for a drink. 

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 22

I knew I wouldn’t have a huge amount of time today so I popped out into the garden to look for textures and patterns.  I first came across a feather on the grass, soft to touch but made up of tiny ridges.  Then my attention was drawn to the plants.  Leaves have so much texture to them, the veins create dips and ridges and the lines, patterns.  The leaves of the pine were my favourite to photograph.  The head of dandelion seeds looks soft and fluffy but when you look closely it looks prickly; its way of attaching itself to passer-by for distribution.   The common daisy – full of pattern from its yellow centre to its layered petals.  


30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 21

I sometimes have to work away from home; tonight this had its advantages, a beautiful roe deer.  I was still working at the time, moving locations. Turning the corner into another field, I came face to face with this doe.  She stood and looked at me briefly before turning and trotting away.  I love having chance encounters with mammals when out and about.  It does worry me that she didn’t run as soon as she saw me, I was only ever going to take her photograph, but who knows who else she could run into! 

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 20

When you spend a lot of time amongst nature one of the many things you can do to give back is to volunteer.  Now most people think of volunteering as volunteering your time at a nature reserve or at a specific event.  These things are great to do but if you are like me and have to work funny hours at a moments notice or don’t have a reserve that is particularly close to home; citizen science is another great way to give back. 

You can take part when you have time or just as and when you ‘find’ something to record.  ‘Something’ can be anything in the natural world.  I often stumble across ladybirds when I’m at work; a quick photograph taken on my phone and in a few clicks I have sent the data off.  When more time is available, a garden bird watch or mini bioblitz helps you not only explore your very local surroundings but also helps you get to know your feathered or mini beast neighbours.   

There are places to record your data no matter the subject and I have included some of the ones I use below.

iRecord enables you to log anything and everything! You can either do this via their app or on your PC via their website.  All of your data feeds into the Biological Records Centre which is then also available to local record centres and national schemes and societies. There are also specific apps that feed directly into iRecord, some of these are iRecord Butterflies, iRecord Ladybirds, Mammal Tracker and iRecord Grasshopper.  A full list can be found on their website.

You can also submit records directly to your local records centre of any flora and fauna.  For my local centre I have downloaded their spread sheet and keep a copy in my car!  If I see something while I am driving, I often get a passenger to fill in the form with all the basic details, I then add the grid reference at a later date.  I transfer this data to the PC and every few months email off the form to the centre. 

BirdTrack is run by the BTO in conjunction with four other organisations to monitor the distribution and movement of birds in Britain and Ireland.  If you have been out bird watching you can add your lists to their database.  They like complete lists so everything you have seen or heard but casual records of an individual sighting is also of relevance, it all builds up a picture of the movement and distribution of our feathered friends.  You can add data via their website or an app on your phone.

Anything badger related gets recorded with the Badger Trust.  They collect data via a confidential report system on road casualties, sett locations and crime & suspicious incidents.  Over 50,000 badgers are killed each year on our roads, they use the data we submit to identify hot-spots and then petition our local councils to try and make the roads safer for all of our wildlife.

Every record we submit to any of these organisations helps inform research into all aspects of our natural world and helps restore and protect our natural environment.  Have you seen anything you can record today?