Mark Hows - 2020 Wildlife Blog

Welcome to my wildlife blog - I will chronicle my exploits looking for wildlife in the UK and post links to trip reports from further afield. I have plenty of target species this year from Plants and fungi to Ladybirds and plenty of things in between and tracking these down will keep me busy. I will be doing plenty of mammal watching and there will be some twitching in the mix as well which should keep me out of trouble - hopefully! and all this will be fuelled by lots of Chips and Ice Cream.


Tuesday 30th - June Mothing

Varied Coronet Rosy Footman

Mixed mothing this month which started quite but eventually picked up towards the end of the month. Garden trapping - Small elephant hawkmoth, flame carpet, broad barred white, coronet, Green silver lines, Swallowtail moth, lackey were the highlights. I alos finally got a clearwing in the garden a red belted Clearwing.

I managed to trap a few times at work and had some nice moths, rosy footman, lobster moth, eyed hawkmoth, reed leopard, coronet, blackneck, V moth And I got 9 red tipped clearwing to lure on afternoon. I did see a couple of other people's moths a beautiful marbled and a varied Coronet both really nice moths.

Sunday 28th - New Forest Flora

Rampion Bellflower Mudwort

It was a big day out in the New Forest, but a couple of stops on the way for Good King Henry and Corky Fruited Water Dropwort. Mudwort was next on the list and I got a bit wet getting close to this tiny plant. The next plant was easier a roadside stop for the delicate Rampion bellflower then heath pearlwort, Lesser marshwort then a rather damp stop for slender cotton grass which was quite tricy to ID as well. Here a rather nice Golden ringed dragonfly along with plenty of Silver studded blues. I then popped into Hatchet Pond for an ice cream and a quick look at Slender marsh bedstraw, before battling with lesser and intermediate bladder wort ID. No sign of small water pepper so I stopped for chips before heading for home via a quick stop for pink purslane which was still in flower.

Chips - Goodies, Totton, - Battered Sausage, Chips, Pea Fritter 7/10

Friday 26th - M25 Madness

Deptford Pink Red Fox

I was heading to Hadleigh CP to see Hartwort, but the M25 was closed, so I diverted and headed to Rainham Marshes via the M11, however that was closed as well so I spent a little time nearby on the coastal scrub looking for insects until the roads were clear. A few nice ladybirds 22 spot, and round keeled the pick but not much else. I eventually made it the Hadleigh and the hartwort was flowering nicely with some Deptford pinks, job done so I headed home. Over the last couple of nights the badger has become more active and used to the lights from the moth traps and for me being in the garden and I have managed a few photos, but tonight was exceptional. A fox cub visited as well and I got a few photos and to cap it all the muntjac visited and all three were feeding in the garden at once.

Chips - Fish n Chickn, Harlow - Saveloy and Chips 8/10

Thursday 25th - Garden Goodies

Badger Red Belted Clearwing

I spent the afternoon at home due to the heat and popped out the CUL lure and finally got a red belted clearwing my first garden clearwing. Later I popped out to check on the Moth traps about 10.30pm, I walked out into the garden where a badger was feeding happily. I backed up got my camera and returned and the badger tolerated me getting close enough for some nice photos with my 180mm macro lens (the other lens was in the car). Badgers have been visiting the garden for the last month and I now put food out for them and I assume that they are using the pond for water in these dry conditions. I watched it for quite a while before my cat spooked it.

Wednesday 24th - Breckland Bugs and Botany

Ant Nest Ladybird Fly Honeysuckle

I headed to the Brecks after work in what was searing heat. I popped into Lakenheath RSPB for a short wander it was too hot for the full circuit. There were lots of warblers, a cuckoo and the usual birds on the wash. Emperor dragonfly, red admiral, large skipper the insects of note. A quick look at Smooth rupturewort before heading to Cranwich Camp for some ladybird surveying and came up trumps with several species, 7, 14, 16 spot along with pointed keeled ladybird and ants nest ladybird A nice oblique striped moth but plants were in short supply as half the site is still being grazed despite not a plant being visible, no idea what is going on here but no Spanish catchflys anywhere and only a few field mouse ears and purple milk vetch of note along with Scarab and Bordered Shieldbugs. I popped in to see the Fly honeysuckle which was flowering nicely before heading to check another site but only had a pointed keeled ladybird and forget me not shieldbugs also a Breckland wormwood of note. A quick check of one last spot but nothing of interest and I headed home to rehydrate.

Monday 22nd - What a Beauty

Beautiful Marbled

I was luck to be able to visit a locally trapped Beautiful Marbled moth and it was in perfect condition and sat nicely for photos. I stopped at a few sites on the way home for some more Elm micro species, Burred, Huntingdon, Coritanian, Moss's and Cambridge Elms

Friday 19th - New Forest For Flowers

Small Red Damselfly Wild gladiolus

An early start with a detour to Kent for Varied Coronet and yellow Bartsia. The destination was the New Forest but first a visit to Noar Hill for the orchids, musk, common spotted, chalk fragrant, common twayblade then a quick stop for Bee orchid var Belgarum before heading into the forest .
First some heath spotted orchids, then lesser butterfly and early marsh orchid including lots of the lovely var ochrantha. And a cracking silver spotted skipper it was pristine and must have emerged recently.
The weather then became perfect for insects with southern damselfly, small red damselfly keeled skimmer and beautiful demoiselle all seen within a few yards on a small stream.
It got a bit wet with a heavy downpour but the Wild gladiolus still looked amazing, particularly compared to the bog orchids at the next stop, supported by pale butterwort. The weather was not good for insects so it was time to head home with a quick stop in Hampshire for marsh Helleborine including several var ochroleuca

Wednesday 17th - Top Twitching

Desert Warbler Blyth's reed warbler

A very early start to drive through the fog to Holy Island where on arrival at 7am a dozen or so people were watching the Desert warbler which showed very nicely for a couple of hours. The Marsh helleborines were not out yet but were close, but the Common spotted, Early Mash and Northern Marsh orchids were out in force including some hybrids. The next stop was Grindon Lough, a site I visited several years ago for a Red Necked Phalarope and today also it was for a Red necked phalarope and apparently it si believed to be the same individual returning every year. A drake American wigeon was also present. Nosterfield Nature reserve was next for the rather camouflaged Lesser Yellowlegs that took a bit of finding. Then it was into the heart in the industrial North East where some rather nice Northern Marsh orchid var altara along with some nice hybrids. A quick stop at Greatham Creek for grey and common seals followed by another quick stop at Salthome RSPB for a Great white egret and 7 spoonbills. Luck started to run out with no sign of the Rose coloured starling or red footed falcon. But some nice views were had of the feeding Blyth's reed warbler not singing as it has been to some and that was time to head home after a very busy day.

Tuesday 16th - Breckland Blast

Forget Me Not Shieldbug

I headed out to the Brecks in search of the Grey carpet moth which despite all the time I spend in the Brecks I have yet to see and my quest will continue as I drew a blank at two sites. But it was not all doom and gloom a cuckoo, skylarks, forget me not shieldbugs, Adonis ladybirds, small tortoiseshells the pick of stuff. A quick visit to another site for Russian cinquefoil finished the morning and I headed to work.

Sunday 14th - Kent Korkers

Bee Orchid var Cambrensis

I headed out for a quick trip to North Kent to see the very rare Bee Orchid var Cambrensis there were several of these stunning plants in perfect condition. Next I visited nearby Ranscombe Farm allways a pleasure to visit and today had stunning displays of poppies and rough hawksbill along with some very nice Rambur's Pied Shieldbugs Next was a quick look at some grass poly and pale flax before heading home.

Saturday 13th - West is Best

limestone woundwort

It was a very early start to the West Country for some very rare plants first stop was Eype for the Slender Centaury only two plants were in flower so I had timed my visit a fraction too early, dune tiger beetle and seaside brooklime were of note at this site on a glorious morning. Two very small fox cubs were in the road as I left the village but were to quick for the camera. Conditions changed as I made it to Berry Head where a few spots of rain and some gusty winds were less than ideal wildlife conditions but my target was incredibly small so was not affected too much. The tiny small hare’s ear was located after a short search which was interrupted several times by nosey dog walkers. I had a nice wander looking at some of the commoner plants before heading north. I had two stops the first a very brief stop for Starved wood sedge which I quickly found and then to the tiny reserve in Gloustershire for limestone woundwort which was flowering nicely. Then it was time for home.

Friday 12th - Listless Lizards

Lizard Orchid

I popped in to see the Local Lizard orchids on my way home but they were in a sorry state the recent conditions had not been kind to them and they were looking pretty poor. A few Pyramidal orchids were present but far less numerous than in previous years and the other wildflowers on site were also looking pretty poor hopefully the recent rain will help.

Thursday 11th - Awesome Orchids

Bee orchids var fulvofusca

I was heading the Dancers end to have another try for wood vetch after being rained off the other day, but got a tip of about some nearby bee orchids var fulvofusca. So that was my first stop and after a short search this lovely orchid was located. Plenty of other orchids present in very good numbers but mostly stunted I assume due to the recent dry conditions, common twayblades, common spotted, greater butterfly, pyramidal and chalk fragrant orchids. A very nice visit despite the tricky photographic conditions (wind) but the rain held off. I quickly located the wood vetch at Dancersend before heading home.

Tuesday 9th - Broken Breckland

Forget me not shieldbug Maidens pink

I headed to the Brecks after work first stop was the Feltwell area, here I had two turtle doves, a roe deer and a selection of nice butterflies. Next was Cranwich Camp but the gate was locked for some reason it was academic anyway as the site has had all the wildflowers grazed off so a waste of time visiting. I tried Cranwich Heath but that is currently being grazed! So no access, but in the surroundings on the disturbed ground I found some small toadflax and white ramping Fumitory. I popped in to see some Perennial and annual knawel and also found some nice green eyed flower bees. A quick look at some maidens pinks coming into flower before a search for grey carpet which was unsuccessful, but I did find two forget me not shieldbugs. I called it a day and headed home.

Monday 8th - Lee Valley Ladybirds

Red Rumped Scymnus Green oak tortrix

I spent the afternoon in the Lee Valley with Andrew Jewel for a bit of a ladybird hunt, It appeared that we were in between generations for most species as there were lots of larva. But we did record some conspicuous adults, 7, 14, 16 and 24 spot, adonis and pine ladybirds. Only a couple of inconspicuous ladybirds Litura and possibly new for the area a red rumped scymnus ladybird. Plenty of other insects pied, brassica and red legged shiedlbugs and a larger beetle Phaedon cochleariae and a couple of nice Green oak tortrix moths. Emperor dragonfly was nice to see and we found a group of oak processionary caterpillars before calling it a day.

Sunday 7th - West is Best

Somerset Skullcap

The weather was much better in the west so I headed to Somerset first thing to see the rare Somerset skullcap and I found a few nice plants of wolfsbane. I made an unsuccessful stop in south Bristol but did have a nice scarlet tiger moth. The major stop was near Stroud where I managed to find several Cistus moths the main target of the visit. Conditions were perfect and I had some nice butterflies as well including small blue, Marbled white and dark green fritillary, the only other things of note were tortoise shieldbugs. I headed home via a spot in the Chilterns for Green houndstongue a few plants still in flower. My last stop was for wood vetch but torrential rain stopped play a short way into the search, some nice Greater butterfly orchids and bush vetch of note. I will have another try soon.

Chips - Mr Chips, Dunstable - Saveloy and Chips 8/10

Saturday 6th - Local

Prickly Poppy

With dodgy weather I stayed locallish, first stop Barton le Cley for some arable plants in a field margin the pick few flowered fumitory and rough poppy (I had been tipped off about them they weren't just lucky finds). A quick look at some broad leaved pondweed then back towards home for some of the local Elm micro species (Sowerby's, Leathery leaved, Exeter, Round leaved Elm) while dodging the showers.

Tuesday 2nd - Oh my Ochrellouca

Early Marsh orchid var ochrellouca

headed to the small fen that holds the beautiful Early Marsh orchid var ochrellouca there were over 30 in flower all in perfect condition, this is the largest number I have seen there and I had it all to myself in beautiful conditions a totally amazing start to the day. A quick stop in Bury St Edmunds, then off to a roadside reserve for crested cow wheat, none at my first stop, but my second site had plenty although they were suffering from the effects of the hot dry weather. My last stop was in the Brecks for ladybirds and shieldbugs only 7 and 16 spot ladybirds and only hairy and Brassica shieldbugs. then it was off to work.

Monday 1st - Mega Mammals


An exciting evening, the cat brought in a small mammal which shot under our bed, I got a few glimpses of a mole! We could not relocate it, but kept checking and unfortunately found it dead an hour later. I was checking out my new toy a thermal imaging scope in the back garden and had a large heat lump under the bird table which was a badger. We watched it for a while eating the food I had been putting out every evening for it. Every other night two foxes had been helping themselves to the food so this was excellent, the foxes did put in an appearance I caught them on the trail camera footage later.



Sunday 31st - May Mothing

Grey Dagger

A pretty poor trapping few week's that has picked up recently, some of the highlights are Figure of eighty, coronet, lychnis, pale tussock, dwarf pug, privet hawkmoth, poplar hawkmoth, lime hawkmoth, Grey dagger, purple bar, Buff tip

Saturday 30th - I Seek him here, I seek him there, I seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven or is he in hell? That demned elusive Pimpernel!

Blue Pimpernel Salsify Small Blue Poppies

I was up early for a visit to Kent to search for the Blue pimpernel, but first I headed to Rye Harbour for a walk before the crowds arrived, I timed it perfectly and only met a couple of people during my whole walk. Plenty of Sandwich terns, avocets, oystercathers and a few nice plants ,b>yellow horned poppy, sea pearlwort, sea kale, salsify. Then some quick stops for sea clover, stinking hawksbeard, and sand catchfly before trying my luck for ox tongue broomrape probably too early as the bristly ox tongue was only just getting going, but I did have some nice butterflies, small blue and wall brown the pick. But the main focus of my day was at Ranscombe Farm where I was searching for the elusive blue pimpernel, a species that I had missed a couple of times before. It was hot and there were a few people around which I managed to avoid. The poppies were out in abundance and my search focussed on this area, scarlet pimpernel was flowering everywhere and I found several flowering Venus's Looking glass before eventually locating a lone blue pimpernel nicely in flower. Plenty of other plants of interest including corncockle, field pansy, corn salad sp and common broomrape. An ice cream was in order along with a cold drink before my last stop, I headed across the river to Hadleigh country park where I tracked down some Bithynian vetch before Chips and home.

I put some food out for the foxes (the badger has not returned) but saw a hedgehog in the garden, the first for a while.

Chips - Cyprus Fish Bar, Braintree - Battered Saveloy and Chips 7.5/10

Friday 29th - Awesome Orchids

Early Marsh Orchid

I popped in to Fulbourn Fen on the way home to see the awesome display of Early and Southern Marsh Orchids all in fine condition.

Thurdsay 28th - And Even more Brecks

Tortoise shieldbug

Once again it was an afternoon in the Brecks mainly for ladybirds and I had several species, hundreds of 16 spot, but a few others, low numbers of 10 spot, cream streaked, striped, 24 spot, pine, pine scymnus. I also had some nice Tortoise shieldbugs. Birdwise cuckoo and woodlark were the pick on a rather hot afternoon.

Wednesday 27th - Breckland Bashing

Thracian Birthwort

Once more into the Brecks for the afternoon where the Thracian Birthwort was flowering but the hot weather has not been kind to the flowers and only a couple were in good condition. My next stop was for ladybirds mostly 16 spot well over a 100 and singles of pointed keeled, 24 spot, 10 spot and cream streaked. I then headed to see the Military orchids just starting to flower nicely. I had a few pine ladybirds here and a tree pipit but not much else.

Tuesday 26th - North Norfolk

May lily Three spined stickleback

I headed to North Norfolk after work, first to Salthouse for the May lily, the first few were starting to flower, but it looked as some may suffer with the very dry conditions. Target done so I had plenty of time and headed to Beeston common for a wander, plenty of nice sights, southern marsh orchids, bogbean, ragged robin, lesser stitchwort in perfect condition. I watched some three spined sticklebacks in a stream including a male guarding a nest. A small slow worm succumbed to a magpie, some muntjac and a nice Keeled skimmer All finished off with an ice cream before heading home.
I went to bed early being on early shift at the moment, my wife woke me about 1am, a badger was in the garden illuminated by the moth traps very nice.

Sunday 24th - Dorset Dash

4 Spot Chaser

I spent the day in Dorset well away from the crowds looking for insects rather unsuccessfully. I did find some hairy, brassica and woundwort shieldbugs, 14 spot ladybirds, goldenrod crab spider, pointed keeled ladybird, dock bug, cocksfoot moth Other sightings included a cracking barn owl a cuckoo, an adder, common lizard and two slow worms and 4 Spot chaser. I found an ice cream on the way home and made a brief stop near home to see the local white helleborines which were just starting to go over.

Friday 22nd - Pre Work Wander


I had a quick look round for ladybirds pre work in the Brecks, 5 species 7, 14, 16, 24 spot and Pointed Keeled ladybird and A rufous-shouldered longhorn beetle was a nice bonus despite the far from ideal conditions. Fine leaved sandwort, small alison and slender thistle of botanical interest, but the pick a bit further afield was some henbane in perfect condition.

Tuesday 19th - Bugs,Butterflies, Voles and Vipers

Minstrel Shieldbug Field Vole

A quick photo shoot with a rescued field vole before its release, before I headed to the Lee Valley before the crowds arrived. With no one about I quickly found my target, the recently discovered Minstrel Shieldbug. I headed off hopping over the river into Kent where I had a couple of hours looking for butterflies small and common blues, dingy and grizzled skippers, large white, brimstone, green hairstreak, small copper. There were plenty of day flying moths to add to the mix lace border the pick and a couple of nice adders basking in the shade, all very nice shame I had to drag myself off to work I could have stayed all day.

Sunday 17th - Aquatic Antics

Large Red Belted Clearwing Water Shrew

After a nice lie in it was off to Norfolk where I was hunting for the large red belted clearwing. I hung up some lures and waited but nothing so I relocated to another area. A cuckoo, roe deer and grass snake kept me entertained as I waited for the clearwings to come to my lure, but come they did and I eventually managed some photos. I headed to Norwich where water shrews have been performing. One put in an appearance and I had some nice views of this insectivore missile. Supported by grass snake and water voles it finished off a nice afternoon.

Saturday 16th - An Orchid Orgy

Duke of burgundy Ochreluca fly orchid

After work I once again headed to the Brecks for a couple of hours. A mixture of ladybirds and botany was on the menu. A nice selection of plants included parsley piet, field mouse ear, spring beauty, common houndstongue. But ladybirds were harder to come by, cream streaked and pine the only ladybirds found. But it was lovely to be out and about on a beautiful afternoon. An early start and I was in Kent, it was a 15 species Orchid fest, starting with the uber rare Ochreluca fly orchid along with Greater butterfly (in bud), fly, lady, common twayblade, common spotted (in bud), white helleborine and early purple. Monkey was the next target and they were just breaking into flower. The next stop added Late Spider and Man then early spider at another site along with my first common blue of the year and a slow worm on one of the tracks. With Duke of burgundy next on the menu the sun co-operated and conditions were perfect, half a dozen seen easily including some still in nice condition. Plenty of moths present including the cracking white spotted and wavy sables and slow worm and common lizards seen. Another woodland stop to add Lesser butterfly and broad leaved helleborine (just leaves) to the list. A roadside stop added Lizard orchids (still in leaf) and then onto Marden Meadow for the Green Winged orchid spectacular to finish. A cracking day.

Friday 15th - Back to the Brecks II

Cream Streaked Ladybird

After work I once again headed to the Brecks for a couple of hours. A mixture of ladybirds and botany was on the menu. A nice selection of plants included parsley piet, field mouse ear, spring beauty, common houndstongue. But ladybirds were harder to come by, cream streaked and pine the only ladybirds found. But it was lovely to be out and about on a beautiful afternoon.

Thursday 14th - Back to the Brecks

Gorse Shieldbug

With lock down easing I headed to the Brecks after work, somewhere I usually go to a lot as it is only 15 mins from work. I picked secluded places that hardly anyone else would go to, apart from some quad bikers illegally riding! At my first stop I was ladybird hunting but had no luck but did get gorse shieldbugs and Adela reaumurella moths. My second site was more productive with pine and cream streaked ladybirds and a and juniper shieldbug. My third stop produced Pine Scymnus and red headed ladybirds and some corn spurrey. Next I took a walk along a forest ride where I have seen green hairstreak before, I had no luck but did see the first small coppers of the year, a Pammene rhediella and several pretty distant muntjacs and roe deer. My last stop was in Lakenheath where the chip shop was open so I took advantage. A very productive afternoon in the pleasant sunshine.

Chips - Historic Fish and Chips, Lakenheath - Saveloy and Chips 7/10

Friday 8th - Weekly Sightings

Pygmy ShrewTreble Lines Henslow's Goldilocks Buttercup

Again mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of sightings. Mostly muntjac they seem to be everywhere as I drive home at dusk. In my little nature reserve its a chorus of birdsong, plenty of chiffchaffs and blackcaps, insects are abundant, the holly blues have finally allowed me some photos. Plenty of camera trap sightings of badger, fox, polecat and muntjac. I put a few mammal traps down in my reserve and had a good catch, 4 bank voles, 3 wood mice and a common shrew

The cat brought in a pygmy shrew unhurt, which was rescued and released safely. And a cuckoo in the garden was a nice surprise.

Moth trapping in the garden has again been dismal just Garden carpet, brimstone, common marbled carpet, treble lines, brindled pug of note. Plenty of local plants coming into flower poppy, wild clary, Swedish Whitebeam, broom, gorse and a few goldilocks buttercup micro species



Thursday 30th - Weekly Sightings

Early Purple Orchid Toadflax Brocade

Again mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of sightings. Mostly muntjac and but a tawny owl one evening was the highlight. In my nature reserve its been a quite week although the camera trap highlights continue with lots of badger, fox, polecat and muntjac. Moth trapping in the garden has again been dismal just toadflax brocade, shuttle shaped dart of note. Local plants were again all common species but Early Purple Orchid, Vipers bugloss, wild mignonette, biting stonecrop the pick.

A couple of local walks produced 14, 16 spot, harlequin, cream spotted, pointed keeled ladybirds along with a red legged shieldbug.

Friday 24th - Weekly Sightings

Wood Mouse 10 Spot Ladybird Midland Hawthorn

Again mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of sightings. Mostly brown hares, muntjac and fallow deer but a tawny owl one evening was the highlight. In my nature reserve whitethroats have arrived and green veined whites and hairy dragonflies have emerged. The camera trap highlights continue with lots of badger, water vole, fox, and muntjac but a tawny owl with a mouse and another polecat sighting have been nice.

Moth trapping in the garden has been dismal just red chestnut, Hebrew character, brindled beauty, common pug, muslin moth, powdered quaker and pebble prominent. Local plants were again all common species but greater celandine, lords and ladies, thyme leaved speedwell, midland hawthorn were of note.

Soprano pipistrelles are now quite noticable in the village at dusk with several about most nights, and I caught a wood mouse in my garage.

A local walk produced three 10 spot ladybirds along with a Western conifer seed bug, dock bug, box bug and hairy shieldbug.

Friday 17th - Weekly Sightings

Soprano Pipistrelle Orange Tip Forestier's Ladybird

Incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of sightings. Lots of brown hares, muntjac and fallow deer but a water vole was the highlight. In my nature reserve blackcaps have arrived and a nice selection of butterflies present comma, brimstone, orange tip, small tortoiseshell, large white, holly blue, speckled wood and peacock. The first large red damselfly have emerged and at dusk common and soprano pipistrelle have been present. The camera trap highlights were badger, jay, water vole, fox.

Moth trapping in the garden was very quiet, early thorn, small quaker, common quaker, clouded drab, red chestnut, twin spoted quaker, brindled beauty and pebble prominent. Local plants were all common species but yellow archangel, primrose x cowslip hybrid were of note.

Some ladybird hunting proved fruitful with 5 species found within a couple of hundred yards from my house including a nice Forestier's Ladybird which I had not seen locally before. A Soprano pipistrelle was found in my drive unhurt but severly underweight, I fed it glucose solution and took it to a local bat carer and I will keep an eye on its progress.

Friday 10th - Weekly Sightings


Again mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of nice sightings. buzzard, red kite, kestrel the highlights. In my nature reserve blackcaps have arrived and comma, brimstone, orange tip, small tortoiseshell and peacock and at dusk common and soprano pipistrelle. The camera trap highlights were badger, jay, water vole Moth trapping in the garden was quiet, streamer, common quaker, clouded drab, common pug, small quaker. Local plants Garlic mustard, greater stitchwort, alexanders, ragwort, sow thistle, yellow archangel, sow thistle, germander speedwell, cowslip, wall speedwell, field madder, charlock.

Friday 3rd - Weekly Sightings


Mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work but plenty of nice sightings. Barn owl, muntjac, fallow deer, brown hare, buzzard, red kite, kestrel the highlights. Also a sign that it is warming up was a soprano pipistrelle hunting in the garden on Thursday evening. But the best sighting of the week was a glimpse of a polecat in the private nature reserve I look after. I was working in there on Monday afternoon and disturbed it. So I put up a couple of trail cameras to see if I could confirm the ID, and I got some nice photos and 4 more mammals into the bargain badger, rabbit, muntjac and fox..



Read my latest article in the Spring Edition of Mammal News

Mammal News - Spring 2020

Friday 27th - Fordham Woods


My pre-work walk was in Fordham woods a stone's throw from my work, the weather was spring like and the butterflies were in abundance 5 species in total, speckled wood, brimstone, comma, peacock and red admiral. Abundant birdsong was interrupted by the cronk of a raven as it flew over. scarlet elf cups were still fruiting alongside flowering marsh marigold in the spring sunshine.

Thursday 26th - Lower Woods


A pre work walk in Lower Woods which is on my commute, oxlips were starting to flower and the rides had sweet violets, greater stitchwort, dogs mercury, barren strawberry, wood anemone, lesser celandine all flowering nicely. great spotted woodpecker, chiffchaff the avian picks, the pond had spawning frogs and the only mammal was a grey squirrel in what was a pleasant walk.

Estonia - March 2020

Saturday 21st - Last Hoorah

Red Squirrel Kashmir Goat

Possibly my last non local day out for a while, I kept well away from people and the only person I interacted with was in the chipshop in Bala and they had distancing precautions. Although I went to North Wales and Snowdonia I went to places not popular with tourists and did not even see anyone at 3 out of my 4 stops let alone interact, that is proper social isolation. First stop was the Great Orme no one was about and the feral goats were just sitting by the side of the road at several points as were a pair of chough. Next stop was at Aberffraw that had a couple of dog walkers but they were quite some distance away, here I was searching for the tiny early sand grass, it was a little easier than I expected which was a relief. I popped into the Maltreath red squirrel feeding station, the car park was closed so I parked elsewhere along the road and had the place to myself, three nervous red squirrels visited along with a nice jay. Last stop was at Ganllwyd where at the waterfall there was no one so I had the Tunbridge filmy fern at this beautiful site to myself and headed home via Bala for chips.

Friday 20th - Lovely Lackford

Bank Vole

With our new Covid-19 working patterns I had the afternoon to myself, so I headed to some local roadside nature reserves and eventually located some grape hyacinth along with plenty of other roadside plants. Next stop was Lackford lake which was quite busy but I kept well away from the famalies. I was here for bank voles and they obliged along with some grey squirrels. Birdwise marsh tit and snipe the highlight of my walk round. Last stop was at Weeting for some mezereon which was in full flower a nice finish to the afternoon.

Wednesday 18th - March Moths

Common Quaker

I finally got one of my moth traps out overnight and had a few moths in this morning of just 3 species hebrew character, small quaker, common quaker

Sunday 12th - Happy Herps

Common Toad

The toad crossing in my village has been quiet only a few toads crossing but last night it got a bit busier with plenty of toads along with a common newt and great crested newt all safely transfered to the local pond.

Saturday 14th - A bit Peaky

HutchinsiaCotswold Pennycress

I spent the morning in the Peak district first stop was Miller's dale, here two dippers were on the stream but I was here for plants, it took a while but I eventually found some alternate leaved golden saxifrage amongst the more plentiful opposite leaved golden saxifrage. There was plenty of butterbur and some other early plants. My next stop was Monsal head, here last year in a terrible storm I managed to find Hutchinsia but did not manage a photo due to the conditions, the weather was better this morning and eventually I managed to find some for photos amongst the rue leaved saxifrage and hairy bittercress. Mandarin ducks and sparrowhawk of note here. My last stop of the morning was at Winnat's pass but I could not find any wall whitlow grass, probably too early. I headed to Oxfordshire for a family get together, stopping briefly for some cotswold pennycress on the way.

Chips - North Sea Fish Bar, Chesterfield - Burger and chips 8/10

Wednesday 11th - Cherry Hinton Check

Musk Storksbill

I was given the location of musk storksbill a plant not rare that I had not managed to find so after work took a look. I found it easily only one plant still in flower. There were lots of other plants including some nice Balkan anemones.

Sunday 8th - Incredible Inkpen

Spring Crocus

I was visiting family and combined it wih a visit to Inkpen crocus fields, this small nature reserve was full of spring crocus a super show of purple. A few white one present as well were nice to see and it was well worth the effort to visit.

Saturday 7th - Fallow Fowlmere

Fallow Deer

I had to go to Fowlmere and it was full of fallow deer must have been almost 100 including a few white individuals. A Kingfisher was the only other sighting of note.



Sunday 23rd - Dodging the Downpours

Grey Squirrel

I Popped in at Stocking Springs Wood on my way home the wild daffodils were just starting to flower another week they should be much better. I just missed one deluge and they were quite difficult to mphotograph in the strong wind. I headed to Letchworth for lunch and for a quick walk to see the melanistic grey squirrels. Two put in an appearance as I photographed a few spring flowers and as the rain fell once more I headed home.

Friday 14th - General Sightings

With the poor weather and weekend working it has just been incidental sightings to and from work and at my work feeding station but there have been some nice ones, the best was a weasel complete with vole sp crossing the road one evening. grey squirrel, rabbit, brown hare and muntjac the only other mammals.It has been productive bird wise, little egrets in good numbers at work and large flocks of winter thrushes dodging the resident sparrowhawk. Barn owls, red kites, kestrels and buzzards are very visible at the moment on my commute.

Monday 3rd - Windy Welney

Bewick's Swan

I had to go to Welney for another reason, but after I popped into the reserve. It was cold and windy a few Whooper swans present and as the water levels have dropped a bit since my last visit and the exposed mud attrated some waders and a water pipit. As I headed for home I spotted some whooper swans with a single Bewick's for company. Brown hares and a barn owl also spotted.



Friday 31st - Radnor Rocks

Radnor lily Great Grey Shrike

With news that the Radnor Lily was in flower I headed to mid Wales, as I arrived on site so did the rain but as the small group headed up the reserve path it stopped and the sun made the briefest appearance. There were three lilies in flower but only one really open, there was little else in flower apart for lesser celandine in the woods. I headed to Stratton where it was now raining heavily. The Great grey shrike was showing well in the small quarry/rubbish tip when I was soaked I called it a day and headed home.

Chips - Greedy's, Stow on the Wold Burger, mushy pea fritter and chips 8/10

Saturday 25th - Oh Otters!

Otter Water Rail

Finally out and about after working lots this month. I was out later than I wanted and the weather was dull and overcast. I headed to the Brecks starting at Santon Downham, muntjac on the approach. Here the trees were full of siskins and I flushed a mandarin on the river. It was not long until I spotted two young otters on the bank and they were joined by their mother shortly after. I followed them for an hour until they entered one of their holts and had a bonus lesser spotted woodpecker and kingfisher as well not a bad couple of hours. I popped in to Lundford but it was a noisy family fest so I got some lunch bewfore heading to Lakenheath RSPB another muntjac on the access road. The reserve was quiet a few whooper swans and a great white egret the pick. I stopped at the feeders as I left to get a few photos of the water rail and headed for home, two muntjac a short way down the road in a field.

Chips - Historic Fish and Chips, Lakenheath - Saveloy and Chips 7/10

Friday 17th - Wonderful Work!

Little Egret

Apart from the 5th when I was ill I have been working solidly since the 2nd Jan so all my wildlife sightings have been during my drive to and from work and at work itself, despite that I have had some nice sightings. Muntjac, brown hare, kestrel, buzzard along with both tawny and barn owls. At work the little egret flock has grown to 12, while marsh tits, grey squirrels and rabbits are coming to my feeders.

South Africa - November 2019

Wednesday 1st - Wet Welney

Whooper Swan

I popped to a rather flooded Welney for a couple of hours on what was a rather misty and murky start to the year. The lunchtime swan spectacular feed had a total of 5 swans 2 of which were whoopers. There were plenty of Whoopers on Lady Fen and tree sparrows on the feeders and plenty of birds scattered about 51 species of bird and two mammal species, roe deer and grey squirrel seen in the few hours out and about.

No Chips on New Years Day they always seem to close up.


2019 Review



A pretty standard year and the first for over a deacde that I did not see 50 species in the UK only seeing 49 this year. Some nice encounters with a stoat, and a Leisler's bat were worth mentioning and I won't try for 50 this year as I think I have demonstrated that 50 species in a year is now easily acheivable if you want to, but I will keep a list as always.


Tengmalm's Owl

Not a bad year with 230 species seen, considering how much effort I put in on other taxa. Some highlights were a flock of over 40 common cranes, waxwings, ivory gull, blue winged teal, black duck, pied billed grebe, white billed diver, buff breasted sandpiper to name a few. New species I caught up with were Brown Booby, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Paddyfield pipit and the cracking Tengmalm's Owl.

Other Wildlife and Trips

Snowdon Lily Salmon Horseshoe Ladybird

Following up on my other areas of interest I had a great year with some nice new Ladybirds the highlights were Horseshoe and Scmitts Scymnus, other highights were a Striped hawkmoth, Clifton Nonpariel. My 100 new plant project went well seeing well over 100 new species such as Pedunculate sea purslane, sea dafodil, heath lobelia, spreading bellflower, Snowdon lily and many more and I will try to do this again.

Trip wise it was busy with three weeks in South Africa where we had over 300 species of birds and 64 species of mammals, including some crackers like Serval, Cape Mountain zebra, Denham's Bustard, White Fronted Bee-eater and many more. .

A week in Scotland mainly for local specialities such as One flowered wintergreen, Purple Oxytropis and Azure hawker.

I also joined the Dutch Mammal Group for a survey trip to Bosnia where Parti Coloured Bat was the highlight.

We had a long weekend to Sicily where the orchids were the highlight. And a weekend to Gran Canaria for a few of the endemics.

Catch up with the 2019 blog


2020 Targets

Green when Seen

  • Weather Earthstar
  • Elegant Earthstar
  • Somerset Skullcap
  • Thyme Broomrape
  • Small Cow Wheat
  • Alpine catchfly
  • Pipewort
  • Pyramidal Bugle
  • Scottish Primrose
  • Scarce forrester
  • Marsh Carpet
  • Woodland Grasshopper
  • Large Red Belted Clearwing
  • Cepero's Groundhopper
  • Dusky Ladybird
  • Daisy Earthstar
  • Green Hound's-tongue
  • Isle of Man Cabbage
  • Cornish Moneywort
  • Limestone Woundwort
  • Wish List

    Green when Seen

  • Ladybird Spider
  • Arctic Sandwort
  • Red cage Fungus
  • Norwegian Mugwort
  • Iceland Purslane
  • Radnor Lily
  • Field Cricket
  • Alpine Catchfly
  • Drooping Saxifrage
  • Teesdale Sandwort
  • Strapwort
  • Slender Centaury
  • Perennial Centaury
  • Sallow Clearwing
  • 13 Spot Ladybird
  • Bee Beetle
  • Large Marsh Grasshopper
  • Scaly Cricket
  • Purple Coltsfoot
  • Yellow Oxytropis
  • 2020 UK Mammal List (No Target This Year)

    Green when photographed

  • 1 - Grey Squirrel
  • 2 - Roe Deer
  • 3 - Brown Rat
  • 4 - Muntjac
  • 5 - Otter
  • 6 - Rabbit
  • 7 - Weasel
  • 8 - Fallow Deer
  • 9 - Bank Vole
  • 10 - Feral Goat
  • 11 - Red Squirrel
  • 12 - Polecat
  • 13 - Soprano Pipistrelle
  • 14 - Common Pipistrelle
  • 15 - Water Vole
  • 16 - Wood Mouse
  • 17 - Common Shrew
  • 18 - Pygmy Shrew
  • 19 - Water Shrew
  • 20 - Field Vole
  • 21 - Hedgehog
  • 22 - Badger
  • 23 - Mole
  • 24 - Red Fox
  • 25 - Common Seal
  • 26 - Grey Seal
  • 27 - Wild Boar
  • 500 UK Birds

  • 481 - Western purple swamphen
  • 482 - Siberian Accentor
  • 483 - Forster's Tern
  • 484 - Blue Rock Thrush
  • 485 - Elegant Tern
  • 486 - Cedar Waxwing
  • 487 - Moltoni's Warbler
  • 488 - Grey Catbird
  • 489 - Stejneger's Stonechat
  • 490 - Tengmalm's Owl
  • 491 - Brown Booby
  • 492 - Paddyfield Pipit
  • 493 - Eastern Yellow Wagtail
  • 494 - Asian Desert Warbler
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  • 100 New Plant Species Photo Project

    100 New Plants Gallery

  • 1 - Radnor Lily
  • 2 - Perfoliate penny-cress
  • 3 - Alternate-leaved golden saxifrage
  • 4 - Musk Storksbill
  • 5 - Early Sand Grass
  • 6 - Tunbridge Filmy Fern
  • 7 - Little Mouse Ear
  • 8 - May lily
  • 9 - Procumbent pearlwort
  • 10 - Lesser Water Plantain
  • 11 - Thracian Birthwort
  • 12 - Sea Pearlwort
  • 13 - Blue Pimpernel
  • 14 - Bithynian vetch
  • 15 - Lesser Water Plantain
  • 16 - Few Flowered Fumitory
  • 17 - Somerset Skullcap
  • 18 - Wolfsbane
  • 19 - Green Houndstongue
  • 20 - Slender Centaury
  • 21 - Small Hare's Ear
  • 22 - Limestone Woundwort
  • 23 - Starved Wood Sedge
  • 24 - Seaside brookweed
  • 25 - Grass Poly
  • 26 - Pale Flax
  • 27 - Marsh St John's Wort
  • 28 - Pale Butterwort
  • 29 - Royal Fern
  • 30 - Pillwort
  • 31 - Yellow Bartsia
  • 32 - Hampshire Purslane
  • 33 - Pale Forget me Not
  • 34 - Alternate Water-milfoil
  • 35 - Round-leaved Crowfoot
  • 36 - Skullcap
  • 37 - Upright Spurge
  • 38 - Tasteless Water Pepper
  • 39 - Greater Dodder
  • 40 - Pink Purslane
  • 41 - Intermediate Bladderwort
  • 42 - Lesser Bladderwort
  • 43 - Slender Marsh Bedstraw
  • 44 - Leser Marshwort
  • 45 - Heath Pearlwort
  • 46 - Rampion Bellflower
  • 47 - Mudwort
  • 48 - Good King Henry
  • 49 - Corky Fruited Water Dropwort
  • 50 -
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  • 2020 Bird Race

    No Particular Order

  • Cancelled for 2020

  • The Chip Count

    Chips 8
    Battered / Sausage 1
    Saveloy 5
    Spring Roll
    Pickled Egg
    Cheese and Onion Fritter
    Mushy Peas / Fritter 2
    Spam Fritter
    Burger 2
    John Bull
    Onion Rings
    Ice Cream 2

    2019 Total
    Chips 42
    Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites