My Patch – February 2019

February 1st – I managed to get to work in all the snow and at lunch they decided to send everyone home.  Of course I didn’t go home I went straight to the patch – I wasn’t going to miss using ‘free time’ to check out what’s going on even if it was snowing!  I headed out and over by the copse found deer tracks and found a robin in the brambles.  I really liked the monotone colour of the field with the snow falling the carrion crow added to the artistic feel.  There were not that many birds on the ground though I did hear a buzzard and overhead 8 lapwing, a black-headed gull and a cormorant all flew over while I was out.  I was looking at the trees when a small movement caught my eye, a wren was at the base of tree trunk looking for food in the little bits of ground there where not covered in snow.   

Once back at the house I sat and watched the birds on the feeders: 2 blue tits, 1 great tit, 5 starlings, 1 robin and one bird that made me look twice – a reed bunting!  I have never seen one in the field or the garden before so it took me a while to recognise it as I just didn’t expect to see one.     

February 2nd – Today was a beautifully sunny day.  I had to go out in the field as we don’t get many days like this a year!  The only footprints in the field were mine, fallow deer, fox, brown hare and rabbit. No other humans had been there.  It’s good to know the creatures of the field don’t get a lot of disturbance.  I know people walk down by the river as there are sometimes dog walkers but generally they only seem to be there at weekends. When I reached the copse I could hear a redwing calling, I finally located it at the top of the trees in the hedgerow just opposite.  

I walked along my normal route down the side of the copse what I hasn’t notice when i walked across the field was the fallow deer led down along the side of the trees, they were really well camouflaged against the brown of the tree trunks.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find them there as they were in the same location where I had noticed the snow had been disturbed yesterday.  

I didn’t want to disturb them so I walked in the next field over on the other side of the copse.  The sun shining through the trees looked really pretty.  It was hard work walking down to the river as the snow seemed to be deep on this side of the trees, in some places it was half way up my calves!  

As I reached the river I noticed three cormorants sat in one of the trees further downstream.  I wouldn’t have normally seen them as I wasn’t technically in my patch.  I have seen the odd one fly overhead so its nice to know there is more than one passing through.  There were lots of hoof prints down by the river, the deer must use the copse to get to the river to drink.  It is actually really useful to go out in the snow when no other humans have been about as the animal tracks have given me a much better idea of how they use the features of the field.  

I haven’t really got to grips with the river yet and this summer I would like to spend some more time there (though I might need to tame some of the vegetation so I can actually see the river!).  I heard a moorhen, saw a blue tit on one of the trees, two pairs of mallard swam by and four long-tailed tit worked their way along the bank from tree to tree.  There are large gaps between each tree so maybe there needs to be a couple of extras added for them.  I felt like a rabbit at one point as shadows moving along the ground caught my eye, thankfully in my case it didn’t mean danger just two grey heron flying over.

I decided to walk all the way around the field so not to disturb the deer on my walk back to the car.  It looks as though they generally only venture to the copse, the river and the ‘island’ which I believe was a meander in the river which had been altered to straighten the river once more.  I do however think this could also be the reason the river bank is eroding and the trees are leaning in the river as they loose their stable ground.  According to the land owner the river is much wider now than it was when he was a child.  

As I walked along the far edge I noticed fox prints, there were more towards the barn and I think it may have caught something as the snow was all scuffed up but there were not any signs of what it might have caught.  It looks like it could have been hiding in the hedge and pounced out.  I noticed a bird box on one of the trees which I haven’t seen before, they have cleared the ditch so I guess that’s why it’s visible now.  I wanted to check to see if had been used but I don’t know who has put it there and didn’t want to interfere.  One of the trees was old enough, to be large enough, for me to stand against its trunk, I liked the shadow the sun was casting of it on the snow.  

I had reached the barn but had to be conscious of the deer that were still relaxing on the other side of the field.  I didn’t want to spook them so moved slowly and stopped regularly to check on them and take more photos 🙂 

February 14th – 20:25 no owls heard – none heard all week

February 17th – The swans have returned 🙂 There were three in the field down by the river. I wonder if they will stay; there were numerous feeding on the crop shoots last year. 

This evening I cleaned out all of the nest boxes ready for this season.  I know last year a great tit started to build a nest in the starling box, what I hadn’t realised was it made a full nest; I don’t think it raised any young, though now I’m not sure and wonder if I missed the signs.  The sparrow terrace had a nest too!  Last year there were no signs of nesting in it at all and I was expecting to have to relocate it this year.  Seeing there has been some success all the boxes were put back in the same locations.  Fingers crossed for more nests this year…

February 22nd  – I spent the day in the garden cutting back the hawthorn hedge.  The birds were not happy with me; a) because I was in the garden and they didn’t want to go to the bird feeder on the left side (their favourite feeder) and b) I was cutting down their favourite place to sit before they dart onto the feeder!  I have promised them that once the fence has been jet washed and painted I will make sure there are some shrubs in pots put next to the feeder that they can use as additional cover.  The great spotted woodpecker kept landing in the goat willow tree, then I noticed another land close by, they seemed to have a disagreement and one flew off.  If I sat quietly on the garden bench, one would come down and feed on the feeders a few meters away.  Later on I heard drumming in the distance.  I spotted my first 7-spot ladybird on one of the plants and a bumblebee was buzzing around but I didn’t manage to locate it to find out what it was.  

It does worry me that the insects are out already, that its going to be warm all weekend and it could possibly get cold again.  What worries me more is the majority of people don’t see this as worrying.  Colleagues at work were talking about how nice the weekend was going to be and that soon they will be able to get the BBQ’s out etc, I mentioned the insects and they sort of went quiet (I often feel like the odd girl in the corner that doesn’t talk about normal things!).  A couple of people engage with talking about their gardens and planting some flowers for the insects – a couple is better than none.

I know there is a lot more in the news about the issues we face but I’m not sure people really see what’s going on around them or how everything interacts – I guess they just aren’t interested.  I managed to convince my office to be more aware about crisp packets; to collect all their empty packets so they can be sent off for recycling.  I was known as the ‘girl collecting crisp packets’ for a while after my office manager agreed I could have a box behind my desk for them, but now people from other departments sometime drop off used packets too!  In my mind any packet collected is better than it ending up in landfill.  I’m just not sure how we convince everyone to care about it!  I think they have to see the effects with their own eyes to understand how it actually effects them.   

February 25th – 19:55 no owls – none heard all week

February 27th – there were 19 fallow deer in the field at sunset.  The long-tailed tits wanted to get to the fat balls to feed, they weren’t happy I was stood in the way watching the deer, they were shouting at me from the hazel tree, I moved so they could feed.  Two tree sparrows were following each other through the jasmine looking for bugs, they flew off together, I hope they find one of the nest boxes nearby, though last year some did nest in the roof space just above the jasmine so fingers crossed.  

The mute swans didn’t stayed longer than a couple of days, hopefully they will come back when the crop is more suitable for eating!

My Patch – June 2018

So June’s blog is a little late! July’s will probably be a little later still! 

I have to say that I have spent a lot more time in the garden than I have out in the field because 1) the edge of the field was over grown and extremely difficult to walk around 2) the garden needed lots done to it 3) I’ve been working long hours at work and 4) 30 Days Wild happened 🙂

June 6th – I saw a Jay in the garden for the first time, it was a very fleeting visit but it was nice to see.  There are lots of fledgling birds about at the moment.  Starlings, great spotted woodpeckers, rooks and this evening I watched the house sparrows leaving their nest from under the roof tiles.  

June 11th – I heard the cuckoo again so he’s still here at the moment 🙂

June 12th – Seeing the slugs and snails have been making a meal out of the seedlings in the garden I decided they would be moving home, into the field! I found a brown garden snail and what I think is a white-lipped banded snail and a grey field slug – happy to be corrected if I’m wrong as I’ve not identified snails and slugs before! 

June 13th – I put the camera out last night to see how the fox is getting on in the field.  She’s still about and takes full advantage of any food that is put out for her 🙂

June 18th – For 30 Days Wild today I went out into the field to see what flowers were about, I found; Soft-brome grass, Corn Chamomile, Curled dock, Field Forget-me-not and of course Stinging nettles. 

June 25th – there was a Roe deer in the field first thing, a male.  I didn’t get a photo as only his antlers were visible in the rape!

June 26th – The cat showed his colours today – two dead birds, one juvenile robin and a blue tit.  There hasn’t been a ‘kill’ left on the doorstep for a while so not sure why its happened today.  

June 28th – Today I found my first Tiger Cranefly (Nephrotoma flavescens), I was looking at the plants in the raised beds and it caught my eye.  

June 29th – I was stood in the front garden and ‘something’ landed on a nearby tree – a Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus).  

I do seem to be writing about more insects this month; 30 Days Wild has started me looking for the smaller creatures in my patch and as I mentioned the field was a little difficult to get around so my attention diverted to what I could easily get too 🙂

I hadn’t heard the cuckoo since the 11th so I can only assume he’s left again for another year – safe travels little chap, hope to hear you again (and maybe see you!) next year…

Foxes in the garden

A friend has fox cubs that have started to visit their garden; so of course I HAD to go and see them.  I was told they turn up at dusk, so I made sure I was there by 20:30 and settled into a garden chair.  I was slightly surprised when a face appeared out of the hedgerow at 21:26.  This was quite a bit earlier than expected.  Initially there was only one cub, who stayed close to the hedgerow. 

He disappeared for a while and then I saw him sprint across the bottom of the garden, he worked his way round the back of the garage and was later spotted using the cat flap to get to the cat food in the shed!  The owner is now fully aware that it’s not the cat eating the cat food!!!

Another cub stuck his nose out, and then a second joined him, after a few minutes they ran off; there was some quiet barking from behind the hedgerow.  What we believe was the vixen wandered into the garden followed by one of the cubs, they moved off and out of the bottom of the garden.  In total there are three cubs and both parents.

I went back again a couple of days later – they are only cubs for a short while and I wanted to see them again before they go their separate ways.  They were a lot more wary tonight, I’m not sure why as I did exactly the same as the night before, the only difference being the cat that was wandering around a bit.  They did come out of the hedge but only slightly and didn’t hang around.  I retreated into the house and sat just inside the back door; they then ventured out further into the garden but didn’t stay about for long. 

I went back again the following night.  They were out in the field at the bottom of the garden.  There are often rabbits in the field so I guess it is a good hunting ground for them.  A dog fox walked across the field, we don’t think this is the father of the cubs, but what I did notice is that he doesn’t look quite right, his snout looks short? 

I guess he must be doing okay as he looks quite healthy but I’m not sure what would have caused it, I guess he could have been born like it. There were a lot of people out in their gardens which didn’t seem to bother them while they were in the field, but they didn’t come very far into the garden until it was dusk and I had retreated to the kitchen.  I guess it’s a good thing that they are wary of people as it will help them survive longer.  I don’t believe there are any hunts in the area thankfully and the parent foxes have been visiting this garden for a couple of years now and this is their second litter of cubs that we know of.    

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 14

I knew today was going to be a day where I wouldn’t have much time to get out in the wild, so last night I put the trailcam out in the field with some left over cake! Yes I know not the best thing for the fox but they don’t get given it very often, its normally chicken carcass or eggs.  She has however, been helping herself to next doors new guinea fowl!!  They saw her watching them the other week but I’m assuming didn’t put them behind the electric fence with the other chickens so they went ‘missing’.

I think we can safely say she also likes cake!!  Over a period of 3 hours she squirreled it away to various locations nearby.  I’d cut it up a bit so it didn’t fall apart as she carried it off.  I don’t know if that was just to hide it from anyone else that might want the steal it or because she seemed a little weary of the camera, though she hasn’t worried about it before.  I wondered if she had cubs nearby… I hope she has cubs 🙂 

My Patch – April 2018

A year ago this April was my first visit to my patch and my first blog about it.  The year seems to have flown by far to fast! 

Now daylight saving has occurred and Spring has finally arrived, my evenings are filled with visiting the patch or garden after work when time allows – the garden has been top of the list because I want to get the wildflower seeds in!   

April 5th – The starlings and jackdaws were all collecting nesting material and flying up to the roof. I need to try and locate where they are all nesting in the roof. I’m sure the jackdaws are using the chimney and facia boards as they did last year but need to do more research on the exact location of the starlings. 

April 9th – Two mute swans flew in to graze and a rook landed on the bird feeder. It’s the first rook I have seen land in the garden area. I am surprised that the mute swans are still about, although low in numbers now.  Last year they didn’t stay as long, though it was a different crop in the field.  I can only assume they will visit as long as there are shoots to graze on. 

April 10th – I put the trailcam out last night after thinking I had identified hedgehog feceas in the garden, I was correct 🙂 There are also loads of baby snails in the garden; feasting on the cyclamen leaves.

April 12th – I went to put some food out for the hedgehog and discovered that he had already found some! 

There are definitely jackdaws in the roof, you can clearly hear them chattering through the ceiling of one of the bedrooms 🙂 the occupant of the room isn’t so pleased about it!  I wish I lived there, it would be lovely to wake up to them chattering every morning. 

The trailcam footage from the garden showed that the hedgehog feeding station isn’t really working…

At least we now know that a fox is visiting the garden! It explains where the cat food dishes have been disappearing too!  

April 19th – The deer were in the field first thing, barely noticeable in the rape. 


April 20th – I took a short walk in the field this afternoon, to be honest it was a bit too warm to be doing so.  The oil-seed rape has sprung up since the weather has improved which does mean it looks very pretty now.  Along the field margins are many wildflowers; dead red-nettle, etc The stinging nettles which are now great in number are camouflaging the rabbit holes rather well! I know this as I managed to put my foot down one, thankfully it had been dug out at an angle and not a direct drop! I may have to tie ribbon to the hedgerow to mark out where they are! There were bee-flies, and numerous butterflies; brimstone, small tortoiseshell and peacock all of whom didn’t want to sit still for long enough for a photograph, when they did they kept their wings firmly shut! There were also some white butterflies in the distance but I couldn’t clearly identify them. I could hear the pheasant calling down the bottom of the field, he is quite vocal these days. In the hedgerow I could see house sparrows and blue tits, while woodpigeon’s and crow’s were flying over overhead.  On my walk back I didn’t fancy my chances with the rabbit holes so walked along the track just the other side of the hedgerow, the deer were grazing in the next field over 🙂  

April 24th – there was a toad in the garden. 

April 25th – a starling took a leaf under the roof tiles, a different location to where I noticed them the other day. 

April 30th – a jackdaw was sat in the tree with a beak full of fur! I heard my first cuckoo of the year 🙂

My Patch – February 2018

February has been a much more successful month in the field, with Spring finally on its way I have seen many more goings on…  

February 12th – I noticed this morning a Jackdaw looking in the chimney. They nested in it last year so hopefully it is a good sign that they will nest there again. 

February 13th – there were 32 mute swans in the field this morning. It’s nice to see they are still visiting in good numbers. 

February 15th – 10 starlings were sat on the roof chattering.  I noticed one sitting on the guttering near one of last years nest sites, it then popped in under the roof tile – looks like they are revisiting last years nests 🙂 The crows were also up on the chimney again.

February 20th – this morning there were 30 mute swans and a pheasant in the field. I know pheasants are around the field but this was the first time I had seen one at the top end of it. I had a quick visit to the garden tonight, I discovered fox scat in the flowerbed!

February 22nd – this morning there were two male pheasants in the field. They were closer to the garden and I am starting to wonder if they are picking up bird food that might have been dropped over the fence. Also 21 mute swans 🙂 

February 23rd – I put the trailcam out in the garden over night to see if the foxy visitor returned. Unfortunately nothing but plants swaying in the wind.

February 24th – the trailcam was put out over night in the field, the plan was to try and find out what was using the holes in the field as home (I assume rabbits).  Nothing came out of them, there were however a few visitors that passed by – fox, roe deer and possibly 2 badgers… or one that walked the same route a couple of times!  

February 25th – I decided seeing it was a sunny afternoon to head out in the field to look around.  Now I don’t normally see any other humans at all, however it being a Sunday afternoon I saw three!! Which might explain why I saw less than the normal amount of wildlife! Note to self – only go on the weekend if its really early! Along the north hedge I saw more than normal (no other humans there!) 5 starlings, 2 house sparrow and a blue tit, there were other small birds flitting around but they were hard to see darting into the hedge so I can only assume they are more of the same.  I know that there are tree sparrows in the area but I am yet to see any here.  

Walking passed the copse I again spooked the roe deer, 6 of them ran out the other side and settled in the next field over, through the trees I could also see where all of the mute swans have slowly disappeared to 🙂  Along the edge of the trees as I was walking down to the river I saw a bird running along the hedgerow, 99% sure it was a red-legged partridge.  I’ve not seen one in the field before.

Walking along the river I saw 2 of the humans, 2 mute swans and I heard both a moorhen and robin.  I still haven’t been able to have help to go and collect the litter, good news is its still there and hasn’t washed away! I’m still unsure if the ‘land’ its on is actually stable to stand on! 

On my walk back up I’m sure I saw a tawny owl sat on a tree branch on the edge of the copse, it flew off as soon as I saw it so I didn’t have a good view, but it looked owl like in flight, it flew back into the copse.  

February 26th – 5 mute swans and 11 roe deer near the copse this morning 🙂

February 27th – 1 pheasant and 2 mute swans in the field with 5 long-tailed tits on the feeder and a robin pottering around in the flowerbed. The mute swans have reduced in number over the month, but at least I know they are just in the next field over 🙂

My Patch – November 2017

If I thought October was a bad month for me out in the field, November was even worse.  Once the clocks had changed the only time I could see anything was in the morning before work but due to the not so favourable weather and travel times increasing I had even less time, if any at all in the morning.  I did however have a few encounters…

November 2nd – When I’m late leaving work I sometimes stop by the field and listen in the dark.  Tonight I was lucky enough to hear two tawny owls having a chat 🙂 I’d love in the spring to be able to find them, I assume/hope they nest somewhere nearby. 

November 17th – It was another frosty but bright morning.  I just needed a herd of roe deer to wander across to the field to make it even prettier!   

November 21st/22nd – I put a TrailCam out to see who might be wandering about in the dark.  I wasn’t surprised to see Mr Fox, I say Mr it could be Mrs but its good to know that there is one about.  It looked to be the same fox in each clip.  I need to start documenting facial features to see if there is more than one about.

November 30th – I was on route home, about 2 miles from the field when two barn owls flew together across the road in front of me illuminated by my car lights.  It was the same location where I spotted one in June, its good to know there is more than one.  I have never seen two together before, it was a brief but very special sight.

30 Days Wild 2017 – Days 1 – 5

This year I want to blog about 30 Days Wild more regularly. I’m planning to post a blog every 5 days, I will do my best to keep to the schedule but it might change and adapt as we move through the month. I take my hat off to the amazing bloggers that manage to post everyday. I am Tweeting everyday so if you want to follow along there, as well, you can find me @_HannahBaker  

Day 1 – ‘Spot a wild mammal’ – I decided to go out and look for rabbits to photograph. I drove down the farmers tracks along side my patch, so I could cover a bit of ground. I did find a couple of rabbits but they were out in the open on the track itself. I walked towards them but they were very skittish and ran off very quickly. I went to another nearby field where out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a Pheasant, but reversed to have a better look. I was so please to see a Brown Hare. It was far enough away that I could get out of the car and get a little closer. It was sat eating either crop or actually I think it was eating the grass growing along the edge of the crop. It didn’t seem bothered by me so I took a few photos and watched it for a while. I drove further down the track and disturbed another Hare that darted into the crop but then came back out. I again was far enough away to be able to get out of the car but as it was closer this time I was very weary not to spook it. I moved extremely slowly round the car.  Again it didn’t seem to mind me being there. I didn’t want to disturb it too much so took a few photographs and moved on. I hope to go back another day to see if they are there regularly. 

Day 2 – 30 Days Wild was a complete surprise. I was driving to work when a bird caught my eye. It wasn’t obvious to me what it was so I pulled over to look properly, it took me a few seconds to realise it was indeed a Barn Owl. I sat watching it and only when it was flying away did i think to grab my phone to take a photo. I so wish I had had my camera with me!

Day 3 – Today I decided to ‘Read a wild book’.  Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel has been on the book shelf for a little while now, a present from my Mum.  Today it was calling to me and I’m glad it did.  I am two chapters in and am finding it a very interesting read.  I was excited to learn about Tithe Maps which were drawn up between 1836 and 1852 and they are a great source of information if you are interested in field names.  I wonder if ‘my patch’ has a name other than being referred to as ‘the field’?

Day 4 – We put a TrailCam out the in garden every few days to check on the night time garden visitors.  We regularly see two to three Hedgehogs, a Mouse and we think we have two different Foxes that visit (one seems bigger than the other).  Last night we had two Hedgehogs, a Fox and a Mouse.  Generally the Mouse is just seen as two little eyes shining out of the flower border; so far the neighbourhood cats have been unsuccessful at catching it thankfully. The Hedgehog and Fox seem happy to feed together although the Fox did seem a little jumpy and moved away from the Hedgehog to start with.  

Day 5 – All it has done today is rain! The garden however is now covered in Slugs and Snails.  We never put down any repellent because of the Hedgehogs, we let them tidy up the garden; they will have a good meal tonight 🙂 

RSPB Arne – August 2015

As bad as it may sound, I had not heard of RSPB Arne. I have been to Dorset more times than I can remember and never knew it was even there! So at the beginning of August I took a day off from work and headed down to the Dorset Coast.

RSPB Arne is situated 4 miles East of Wareham, overlooking Poole Harbour.

We started the day by taking the walk out to the hides on Coombe Heath.  There is wonderful heathland to walk across with a variety of butterflies and birds to see, along with the ant hills! I happened to have my parents with me on this visit and I have discovered they don’t mix well with hides! If there is nothing to see straight away, they want to move on! However, they did manage to settle for a while at a screen not far from the hide.  With us being the only people there, they were happier being able to talk at a normal level, with me explaining what we were looking at.

After lunch we headed along the other trails towards Shipstal beach.  The trail is quite undulating but a very pleasant walk looking out over the harbour.  On our route back, we were entertained by a number of dragonflies and lucky enough to spot a Sika Deer amongst the trees.

I am planning to visit the site next year along with a trip to Brownsea Island to see the red squirrels.