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.


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
  • 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 - Tengmalms Owl
  • 491 - Brown Booby
  • 492 - Paddyfield Pipit
  • 493 - Eastern Yellow Wagtail
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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
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  • 2020 Bird Race

    No Particular Order

  • 1 -

  • The Chip Count

    Chips 3
    Battered / Sausage
    Saveloy 1
    Spring Roll
    Pickled Egg
    Cheese and Onion Fritter
    Mushy Peas / Fritter 1
    Spam Fritter
    Burger 2
    John Bull
    Onion Rings
    Ice Cream

    2019 Total
    Chips 42
    Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites