Previous Seasonal Wildlife News 2014
Winter 2014 Wildlife Report
On a recent frost-covered dawn walk, it felt as though I had wandered into Narnia. The world began to look and feel ethereal and not a little magical. Charming Robins appeared at intervals on frost covered branches, tilting their heads to one side to eye the ground in their search for food.
A misty dawn at Thrupp Lake © Jo Cartmell
Robin © Jo Cartmell
On another misty dawn, as I stood on the
Northern shoreline of Thrupp Lake looking at a view which could only be described as one of breathtaking, Turneresque beauty, I became aware of the high pitched call of a Goldcrest https://vimeo.com/113888960 and was delighted to see it searching for insects on one of the lake's trees that I was beneath. My delight was heightened by the sight of a Treecreeper, as the light rose, using its curbed beak to probe for insects on the same tree https://vimeo.com/113888961. These were amongst a troupe of acrobatic Long-tailed Tits which never cease to fascinate me with their ability to withstand our freezing conditions despite being such small birds.
Long-tailed tit © Mark Chivers
The trees around Thrupp Lake and the Radley Lakes wetland areas are very important habitats for birds to roost in their ivy covered branches, giving them protection from winter's harsh nights, as well as being a source of food, whether insects or berries. One of the delights of winter is to find flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing enjoying berry-laden hawthorn. My eyes constantly scan them for signs of wildlife at all times of year and sometimes there is a surprise, such as a heron or a buzzard perched high in the treetops surveying his kingdom or a Little Egret flying over them.
Fieldfare © Mark Chivers
Thrupp Lake began to freeze over in the recent frosts and gave me a chance for a closer look at some of the overwintering duck which pooled closer than usual in unfrozen areas. There were quite a number of Amber listed Widgeon which at times flew in a flock around the lake making their distinctive wheeling call; strikingly beautiful Amber listed Teal with their sharp peeping call, Amber listed Gadwall which sound almost like humans talking indistinctively at a distance and comical Amber listed Tufted duck, all of which are always determined to give human visitors a wide berth apart from coot and even they scootle away nervously from the shoreline. There was also a lone male Shoveler, another Amber listed duck and a sad indictment of humanity's attitude towards wildlife habitats worldwide which are almost always destroyed in favour of development for economic reasons, as these lakes almost were and it is thanks to you that they are still here in their resplendent beauty for our wildlife. These species are on the Amber list due to a concern in a decline in breeding numbers http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/status_explained.aspx
A lone heron surveying Thrupp Lake © Jo Cartmell
There is now much talk of beaver reintroductions to increase wetlands which will alleviate flooding and increase biodiversity. They are already on the River Otter in Devon http://www.devonwildlifetrust.org/devons-wild-beavers/ and are expertly hydro engineering the landscape into biodiverse wetland. They are much loved by local people who enjoy watching them. I hope they will be reintroduced on the River Thames before too long, as it was once their home which they will begin to rewild again. It is urgently needed. I can't wait for my first glimpse of a wild beaver! My very sincere thanks for treasuring and supporting our local, wild spaces and wishing you all a Happy New Year!
Tufted duck © Jo Cartmell
Autumn 2014 Wildlife Report
John Keat’s “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!” is with us, again. Autumn quietly arrived earlier this year and has now woven its beautiful tapestry through summer’s vibrant greens into golden and brown hues and leaves tinged with red. Brambles are resplendent with blackberries. I have delightedly watched a bank vole, wood mice and water vole feasting on them, also many butterflies and birds visiting them, too! See film of the bank vole on https://vimeo.com/104861605
Bank vole © Jo Cartmell
Water vole © Jo Cartmell
Bramble is one of our native shrubs which provides the highest biodiversity, offering overwintering habitat for solitary bees in their hollow stems and other insects, blossom in the spring for bees and many other pollinators, nesting for many bird species including our much loved Nightingale with its strident, melodic song and then autumn’s berry crop! It is not known exactly how many species rely on bramble to survive, but the list is undoubtedly a long one. It looks as though Redwing and Fie