Mark Hows - 2021 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.


Thursday 15th - Wonderful Woodland

Backs Goldilocks Buttercup

I made a couple of local visits in search of the goldilocks buttercup micro species, The Backs, Keddington and Comberton all giving an idea of their locations a few other plants seen some nice Slender speedwell and yellow star of Bethlehem going over. Several nice encounters with the local hares and a couple of barn owl sightings of note.

Sunday 11th - Mammal morning, Plant PM

Chinese Water Deer Pasque Flower

I disturbed a polecat from my front garden (new garden tick) as I left at 5am, followed by some fallow deer at the edge of the village. I added rabbit, brown rat and muntjac before reaching Woodwalton Fen for first light. An almost pure white barn owl passed the car but it was too dark for anything other than a blurry record shot. I headed into the wood A muntjac was on the ride along with some ducks as I approached I could see that they were two mandarins and two wood ducks totally unexpected. I was almost run over by two hares running at full speed. I found a couple of Chinese water deer in a clearing and then another dozen or so in the fields behind the main reserve. On my walk round there were a dozen more Chinese Water deer scattered through the reserve two water voles and 5 more hares. Avian highlights were bittern one in flight and three booming. I added grey squirrel as I was leaving. I stopped in at Ferry meadows but could not find the yellow figwort but did see a common shrew. Barnack was rammed with dog walkers but I found a couple of quieter spots to photograph the pasque flowers and rare spring sedge which I later found out was spring sedge doh! Another visit needed. I popped in to Fineshade woods to see the English White Elm before heading to the Brampton Valley way where Brian Laney had kindly given me a couple of locations to try for wall whitlowgrass the second of which has plenty of plants in flower.

Thursday 8th - Wonderful Woodland

Suffolk Lungwort

I made a pre work visit to a small woodland in Suffolk, here I was after the rare Suffolk or unspotted lungwort, the wood was carpeted in annual mercury and garlic mustard was just about to flower, primroses in the rides along with my target, hundreds of Suffolk lungwort plants flowering nicely.

Monday 5th - Awesome Otters


I returned to Santon Downham, a little later than on Saturday, I met two birders and as I approached them a lesser spotted woodpecker appeared, very nice. They had seen an otter so after a while I wandered off in search of one. A roe deer on the path but little else in the snowy conditions but I did locate three otters one went downstream and I followed the other two upstream for a while until they disappeared into a holt and I wandered back to the car. I encountered a rather large flock of crossbills on the way. I headed for home as the sun came out.

Saturday 3rd - Breckland Bash

Brown rat

I was in Santon Downham before light and did not find any otters during my walk but did have lesser spotted woodpecker which was very nice, there were plenty of birds in the area kingfisher, siskin, redpoll, crossbill, grey wagtail, mandarin. A few mammals were encountered muntjac a water vole and a roe deer. The walk back to the car turned up some displaying woodlark and I headed off for Chips. I spent the afternoon at Lakenheath RSPB, it was pretty quiet bird wise with garganey the pick of the sightings, although nice to see sand martins and swallows and displaying marsh harriers on my rather long walk. The feeders had a couple of brown rats under them picking up the scraps.

Chips - Historic Fish And Chips, Lakenheath - Saveloy and Chips 8/10

Friday 2nd - Garden Owl

Tawny Owl

I spent the day at home doing some gardening etc. and taking it easy. But some alarm calls in the garden roused my interest and I found a roosting tawny owl, I only managed one dodgy photo before the blackbirds drove it off.



Wednesday 31st - Woodland Wonders

Cyclamen Daffodil

A brief late afternoon visit to a lovely wood that had carpets of wood anemone but I was here to see the stunning display of cyclamen daffodils, I had the place to myself and it was idyllic in the spring sunshine. A wonderful evening.

Monday 29th - Breckland Botany

Yellow star of Bethlehem

With cracking weather I headed to the Brecks after work, Grape Hyacynth was not quite flowering at its natural site but in Thetford they were flowering nicely in peoples gardens. Breckland and fingered speedwells were starting to flower along with Thale cress and early forget me nots. I made a stop for Yellow star of Bethlehem and spent some time watching brimstone, comma and peacock butterflies in the spring sunshine, very nice until a couple of noisy families' spoilt the tranquillity so I headed off with a brief stop for stinking hellebore and merezeon. A few boxing hares were too distant for photos as I ate my chips but a nice finish to the afternoon.

Chips - Historic Fish And Chips, Lakenheath - Saveloy and Chips 8/10

Saturday 27th - Walrus Wow!


With news of the walrus reappearing I hopped into the car and headed off, I made it to the lifeboat station before nightfall to finally see the roosting walrus, my sixth attempt at this species, awesome!

Friday 26th - Local Catchup

Fallow Deer

Miserly mothing this week, just a handful of species early grey, clouded drab, small quaker, common quaker, Hebrew character. Very little plant wise locally danish scuvygrass everywhere along the roadside was quite spectacular. A wood mouse and brown rat rescued this week and a nice herd of fallow deer summed up a quiet week locally.

Thursday 25th - West Country Wander

Northern Mockingbird

The west country gave up the northern mockingbird and sand crocus just starting to flower along with some sea mouse ear during a brief visit.

Sunday 21st - Local catchup


Finally red kite over the garden was a very overdue garden tick, a few toads and a frog this week at my toad crossing. Flower wise sweet and hairy violets in flower. A few nice moths in the trap now the weather has improved, oak beauty, early grey and shoulder stripe the pick.

Sunday 14th - Local catchup


Two birds of note in my little nature reserve this week, marsh harrier which do occasionally wander from nearby Chippenham Fen, and a nice but brief kingfisher. Little else of note apart from Coltsfoot was found in flower, a new plant for site.

Sunday 7th - Local catchup

Common Quaker

Although I have lots of camera trap records of otter in my little reserve I finally saw one this week. I ran the moth trap one night but only a comon quaker and a hebrew character. The first toad of the year on my crossing but apart from that not much else of note.



Sunday 28th - Local catchup

10 Spot Ladybird

A quiet week, several brown hares of note locally. I have run the moth trap a few times and had a few moths common quaker, hebrew character, march moth, Agonopterix heracliana/ciliella but it was still very quiet. I found some common lungwort in flower locally and a 10 spot ladybird but not much else.

Sunday 21st - Local catchup

Common Whitlowgrass

This week the local highlight was a raven in the village the first I have seen here, apart from that very little has changed, I found some cut leaved dead nettle and common whitlowgrass in flower at work, the highlight here currently is the redpoll flock.

Saturday 20th - Camera Trap catchup


Camera trap catchup - in my small nature reserve nothing of real note, the usual mammals badger, fox, muntjac, brown rat, grey squirrel are all still regular visitors. Impressed with my latest camera trap Wildgame Innovations Micro.

Sunday 14th - Local catchup

Yellowhammer Buzzard

It has been pretty quite locally over the last two weeks but I have had a few nice local sightings. Plenty of redwing and fieldfare along with the resident buzzards and kites showing nicely. The yellowhammers and reed buntings have been in the garden pretty much full time. Pretty much the same dozen or so flowering plants still in flower but I have added yarrow and winter aconite to the list. My commute to a from work has yielded plenty of rabbit sightings along with a herd of fallow deer and a muntjac. Brown hares are in some of the local fields just starting to do a little boxing.



Sunday 31st - Local Wander

Bank Vole

A local wander round the village and surrondings was a little disapointing bird wise, plenty of redwing and fieldfares aling with a buzzard and two red kites the highlight, but I did find over a dozen species plants in flower. I found a bank vole in the house probably brought in by the cat and took a few photos before safe release.

Saturday 30th - Weekly Roundup

Jelly Ear

A roundup of the week, a nice woodcock flushed in my little nature reserve, incidental sightings of brown hare, red fox, muntjac, buzzard, red kite on my commute. The camera traps in my little nature reserve had badger, red fox, brown rat, muntjac, roe deer, grey squirrel and a few birds but only jay of note.

Sunday 17th - Out and About

Jelly Ear

Finally able to get out again after my illness, I took a local walk to the next village only 2 miles, it was bitterly cold and very boggy underfoot. There was very little about apart from large numbers of fieldfare and redwing and a nice green woodpecker. A few common plants were found groundsel, white and red dead nettle, sweet violet, shepherds purse, creeping buttercup some nice fungi and a 7 spot ladybird rounded off the walk.

Saturday 16th - Camera Trap Catchup


The usual suspects on the nature reserve camera trap, several jays were new to the camera trap area but they are present in the reserve. But the best capture was an otter, fairly regular on the reserve but alway nice to see. I have added another camera to replace the Little Acorn which did not survive being submerged by the floods at Christmas.

Sunday 12th - Backyard Beauty


Finally after 18 years a brambling has shown up in my garden I get lots of finches and have had siskin and lesser redpoll but never brambling, I was very happy to have this visitor. I get some nice birds in my garden yellowhammer, reed bunting, tawny owl. Some garden visitors have now gone such as turtle dove, corn bunting and tree sparrow so it is nice to get some new additions.

Thursday 7th - Camera Testing Over

WiFi Camera Fox Video

For the past month I have been testing a home made camera in my garden, and it has performed well, with just a couple fo tweeks during its first month of operation. It is a Wifi camera that runs of rechargable batteries, ideal as I did not want to put power up to the top of the garden and being battery powered I can move it anywhere in the garden. I placed the camera in a waterproof box and added a solar pack to help charge the camera so I can leave it in place for longer, and although these are inside the case reducing effeciency, so far it lasts for a week before it needs recharging. It communicates with an app on a smartphone.

Camera features
The camera send alerts when battery is low
The camera send alerts when it is triggered
It records video to a micro SD card and these videos can be viewed via the smartphone app
It is sensitive enought to detect mice and sparrows close foucs is about 15cm from the lens. But best of all you can watch the camera in realtime via the app, I have even watched it from work.
There are some downsides the app is pretty basic and I get quite a few false trips but apart from that I am pretty pleased with the result.

I have been waiting for alerts from the comfort of my armchair then watching live on my phone and sometimes going to see the visitor in person. It works both day and night and the total cost to build was less than £ 80.

Saturday 2nd - My Little Nature Reserve

Flooding Flooding

I have mentioned my little nature reserve quite a bit but have never really described exactly what it is. It was good to visit during the lockdown and I spent quite a bit of time there. It is a small private reserve (approx. 1 hectare) on the site where I work near Newmarket, there is no public access. The site is a mixture of wet woodland and marsh, it is surrounded on 3 sides by a river which loops round the site and the final side is a flood defence bank from where the site is accessed. There is a circular path round the site and a clearing near the entrance. The site floods regularly in the winter as the photos show from Christmas eve. I have run a few moth traps, run camera traps and this winter a bird ringer who works on site and I have set up bird feeding stations in the wood and he has been doing some bird ringing. But it is the mammals of this site which is my real interest as I have recorded 23 species in this small area and more bat work to do . It is quite diverse with over 170 moth species, 17 butterfly species, 10 dragonflies and I started a botanical list during lockdown with over 100 plants currently recorded. Plans for the future are to install more bird and bat boxes, do more moth trapping and do more bat detecting.

Friday 1st - Rodent Rescue

Wood Mouse

I was woken at 6am by noises in the house, it was the cat that had brought in a wood mouse. I rescued the mouse and put in a tank with some food and released it a couple of hours later.


2020 Review


Northern Bottlenose Whale

A very different year as expected, no bat work at all and I only managed to connect with 35 species of mammals this year. Some nice encounters with the Northern Bottlenosed whales, and Badgers turned up in the garden were worth mentioning, 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.


Lanceolated warbler

Not a bad year with 205 species seen, considering the situation this year. Some highlights were Caspian Tern, Nightjar, Hoopoe to name a few along with the new species I caught up with were White's Thrush, Siberian Thrush, lanceolated warbler, Pallas's grasshopper warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Taiga Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, Lammergeier, Asian Desert Warbler, crag martin.

Other Wildlife and Trips

Radnor Lily Minstrel Shieldbug Beautiful Marbled

Following up on my other areas of interest I had a great year with some nice new Shieldbugs the highlights were Down and Minstrel shieldbugs, other highights were a Lunar Hornet and Sallow Clearwings, Dark Crimson Underwing, ringed border, Beautiful Marbled and large conehead. My 100 new plant project went well seeing well over 100 new species such as Radnor Lily, Somerset Skullcap, Small Hare's ear, Starved wood sedge, Alpine catchfly, Upright spurge, Alpine Bartsia, Wall Germander, Whorled Solomon's Seal, Isle of Man Cabbage, Dune Wormwood, Water Germander and many more and I will try to do this again this year. I also managed to catch up with some cracking fungi Lion's mane fungus, Anenome stinkhorn.

Trip wise everything apart from a brief trip to Estonia was cancelled.

A week in Shetland mainly for migrant birds was very sucessful with some good birds White's Thrush, Siberian Thrush, lanceolated warbler, Pallas's grasshopper warbler, Tennessee Warbler but sightings or orca and otter were nice.

Catch up with the 2020 blog


2020 Targets

Green when Seen

  • Weather Earthstar
  • Elegant Earthstar
  • Boat Bug
  • Thyme Broomrape
  • Ornate shieldbug
  • Pipewort
  • Pyramidal Bugle
  • Scottish Primrose
  • Scarce forrester
  • Marsh Carpet
  • Small restharrow
  • Oblong Woodsia
  • Field Cricket
  • Cornish Moneywort
  • Sand runner shieldbug
  • Blue Shieldbug
  • Scarce tortoise sheldbug
  • Greater Streaked shieldbug
  • Dune spurge bug
  • Chater's Elm
  • Wish List

    Green when Seen

  • Ladybird Spider
  • Arctic Sandwort
  • Red cage Fungus
  • Norwegian Mugwort
  • Iceland Purslane
  • Cryptic Leatherbug
  • Barometer Earthstar
  • Heather Shieldbug
  • Drooping Saxifrage
  • Teesdale Sandwort
  • Strapwort
  • Cow Wheat shieldbug
  • Perennial Centaury
  • Highland Cudweed
  • 13 Spot Ladybird
  • Bee Beetle
  • Blue Heath
  • Scaly Cricket
  • Purple Coltsfoot
  • Yellow Oxytropis
  • 2021 UK Mammal List (No Target This Year)

    Green when photographed

  • 1 - Wood Mouse
  • 2 - Grey Squirrel
  • 3 - Muntjac
  • 4 - Brown Hare
  • 5 - Bank Vole
  • 6 - Rabbit
  • 7 - Roe Deer
  • 8 - Fallow Deer
  • 9 - Red Fox
  • 10 - Brown Rat
  • 11 - Otter
  • 12 - Walrus
  • 13 - Chinese Water Deer
  • 14 - Polecat
  • 15 - Common Shrew
  • 16 - Water Vole
  • 500 UK Birds

  • 494 - Asian Desert Warbler
  • 495 - Lammergeier
  • 496 - Tennessee Warbler
  • 497 - Whites Thrush
  • 498 - Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler
  • 499 - Lanceolated warbler
  • 500 - Siberian Thrush
  • 501 - Taiga Flycatcher
  • 502 - Rufous-tailed scrub robin
  • 503 - Crag Martin
  • 504 - Northern Mockingbird
  • 100 New Plant Species Photo Project

  • 1 - Suffolk Lungwort

  • 2021 Bird Race

    No Particular Order

  • ??

  • The Chip Count

    Chips 1
    Battered / Sausage
    Saveloy 1
    Spring Roll
    Pickled Egg
    Cheese and Onion Fritter
    Mushy Peas / Fritter
    Spam Fritter
    Mac n Cheese bites
    John Bull
    Onion Rings
    Ice Cream

    2020 Total
    Chips 36
    Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites