I heard my first Swifts of the years today (first in Northants was on the 25th), but other than that it's all quiet on the wildlife front.
Cooler over the past few days, so the newting has been poor, in fact single figures for the past four or five days.
Welcome to my wildlife website
This page is my "diary" of wildlife sightings and adventures mainly from my home patch, Little Irchester in Northamptonshire, and elsewhere when we manage to get away. Please explore the links on the left too.
You can contact me by e-mail at
12th September 2013
What? September already?! Had a busy summer, which I hope to put highlights of here at some point. Hopefully things will slow down a bit now and I can maintain this better.
Today I will be checking my new newt trapping site in Bedfordshire, followed by birdwatching with years 5 and 6 from Irchester Primary School in Irchester CP. Looking forward to it immensely, and hope to report on it later!
3rd July 2013
Where the hell did June go!!!!
Busy all June with handyman work and also a bit of ecology for Grontmij. The newt trapping finished and the supervision of contractors started in the areas which are particularly sensitive. I was on site today and was delighted to see a number of White-legged Damselflies. They are quite well-known in the Ise Valley near Finedon, but this may be a new site. The ditch they seem to be emanating from has escaped the bulldozer as it's in a newt sensitive area, so a "lighter touch" is being applied.
26th May 2013
Beautiful day spent outside. Local Buzzards over the garden, a couple of Red Kites drifted west and, bet of all, a couple of Hobbys were zooming around for most of the day.
25th May 2013
Last "classroom" day of the Bird Song course today. Sunny and warm at times, cold and overcast at others, but at least no rain. Scores on the doors for the before and after test of bird song...
...an average improvement of 65% (don't stats make things sound brilliant!).
21st May 2013
Sadly, I didn't get the job at Froglife, but what a lovely bunch of people they are!
Make sure you visit the Froglife website to see all of the exciting work they're involved in!
19th May 2013
After a couple of days of rather cold and grey weather, the sunny warmth of today was most welcome! A couple of GC Newts were under refugia. There was also a rather grumpy little visitor to one of the bucket traps in the shape of a Mole.
The buckets do have "mammal ladders" - sticks to enable small mammals to climb out if the fall in, but Moley couldn't manage it. Fortunately, being a larger small mammal, and as there were a few worms ion the bucket, he was quite comfortable. He did bite me when I lifted him out, but as I had my gloves on he didn't draw blood. Hopefully it made him feel better!
I have a job interview at Froglife tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!
16th May 2013
Second part of the Birdsong course this evening. Very little singing except Robins in the rain, although after everyone had left a Cuckoo started calling at 9pm!
14th May 2013
TTNFCSLDARDNT No.2 - Small mammals - Whilst checking under one of the many refugia (carpet squares) today I found not only an immature Great Crested Newt, but also a pile of freshly cut grass stalks, probably stowed there by a shy Field Vole.
13th May 2013
Only one Common Toad today, but a brief check under some nearby corrugated metal sheet revealed another Grass Snake.
12th May 2013
Update on the "skipper" - confirmed as Grizzled Skipper by the County Recorder, Doug Goddard. A first for me (really need to do more butterflying)!
Things that benefit from carpet squares laid down as refugia during newt trapping (TTNFCSLDARDNT)
No.1 - Small mammals - Field Voles and Common Shrews are frequent finds underneath refugia. This picture below shows a vole tunnel network. I've also found vole nests with youngsters in earlier in the season.
11th May 2013
A 5.30am start to check the newts traps followed by being at Lings House by 7.45 for the first part of my birdsong course. I've got a great bunch of people (again) and it promises to be a good course. It's hard work as it's very repetitive, but hopefully everyone will come away with a foundation in common birdsong.
After everyone had left, I had a great few minutes watching Blackcap, Dunnocks, Coal Tits and a Nuthatch. The irony of this won't be lost on the group!
10th May 2013
Sixteenth wedding anniversary (silver hollow-ware apparently). All quiet on all fronts today. Looking forward to meeting everyone on the birdsong course I'm running tomorrow. Just have to check newt traps first, so an early start beckons!
7th May 2013
Yet another beautiful day and, whilst all quiet on the newt front, there were one or two interesting things around. The first came in the shape of a tiny butterfly, which I initially took to be a day-flying moth, but which may be a Grizzled Skipper (club antennae for a start!).
Grizzled Skipper? during the only moment it settled before vanishing
Underneath one of the carpet square refugia associated with the newt trapping I discovered a slumbering Grass Snake, which I quietly re-covered and left in peace.
Sitting out in my back garden as I write this I've been treated to 3 Buzzards together (probably local breeders) a Little Egret and a Yellow Wagtail flying over. Great spot to be!
6th May 2013
Another beautiful day spent, after newting, on the allotment and in the garden. It was a good day for raptors with 7 Buzzards, 5 Red Kites and a Hobby all drifting southward over the afternoon, with a peak of 3 Buzzards and 2 Kites in the air at the same time at 15.15. Total of 33 bird species for the day in Little Irchester.
4th May 2013
Not wildlife related, but environmentally focussed, was the crisp packet that I found in one of the newt pitfall buckets today.
3rd May 2013
The lovely weather we've been having tempted me to put the moth trap out over night. Temperatures, especially at night time, haven't exactly been balmy, but I gave in to temptation. Sadly, this morning, I was greeted by a single Early Grey. Never mind. Tonight might be warmer so I'll try again.
Learned yesterday that me presence won't be required at the Priory CP (Beds) Dawn Chorus Walk. Unfortunately they haven't got enough people to justify 2 leaders. Its a shame as, although leaving your warm bed at some ungodly hour is a wrench, that time of day is quite magical. Best wishes to all going on DC walks this weekend!!
30th April 2013
A Jay over the road near Finedon was an interesting sighting.28th April 2013
22nd April 2013
A break from from newting today enabled me to complete 3 sections of Breeding Bird Surveys in the Nene Valley SPA. Highlights, albeit non-breeders in this area, were 4 Little Egrets together, a single Black-tailed Godwit and, best of all, a female Marsh Harrier heading up river towards Summer Leys.
21st April 2013
Took the opportunity to get the moth trap going overnight. The result - a rather modest haul depicted below.
L-R - Common Quaker, Early Grey, Hebrew Character, CQ, and HC.
Zero amphibians following another cool night, but a sunny morning and a flyover Yellow Wagtail made things better! Tiny Toadlet from an earlier trapping was still around - see below (my gloved fingers on the right in case you wondered).
20th April 2013
A real springy day today, although the overnight cool meant that only 1 GC Newt had ventured into the traps. All around birds were singing - lovely.
The afternoon in the back garden was also rather good - 31 species of birds in, over or heard, including a new record for Little Irchester - Mediterranean Gull!! Full summer plumage adult, shining white in the sun, with a big black hood. Unmistakeable as it was only at rooftop height heading for the Embankment!
14th April 2013
A bright but windy day today. A few migrant birds around where I was working (Fieldfare, Chiffy, Mipit) but the "herptiles" continued to amaze and astound.
I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye which turned out to be a Grass Snake. It was a bit cornered, so proceeded to his at me and strike in a most menacing way - absolutely brilliant! After taking a few pics I left it in peace.
Spring is definitely in the air, and the Toads are leading the way!
13th April 2013
A few pictures from the past few days of the amphibians I've been seeing.
Male Smooth Newt
Toads in formation
Great Crested Newt male - note crest flopped along back
Great Crested Newt female
10th April 2013
Blimey! Time flies when it's cold and dreary! Hopefully the warmer weather is with us now?
Today I've been outside a lot. I'm doing some Great Crested Newt "work" near Finedon which allowed me to spend the morning outside. During this time I heard my first Chiffy of the year and flushed a party of 9 Snipe from a wet patch in the filed I was working in.
The "warmth" of the evening meant that we sat outside (albeit with a small bonfire) until 7.45, during which time I copped my first Sand Martin of the year. More amazing was the tight flock of 40 Meadow Pipits that headed north at about 7.30. Looking at the Portland website often gives a good indication of what's coming our way in the mass migration field, and it's true today.
Looking forward to what tomorrow brings!
9th March 2013
Down in the valley on a sunny day in the week I had loads of Reed Buntings in song. Today, with snow apparently on the way, two crisp, summer plumaged males were feeding on grain in next door's garden.