Mark Hows - 2018 Wildlife Blog

Me
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 Whitebeams 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.
 

April

My latest article in The Mammal Society's Magazine - Mammal News Spring 2018

Mammal News Spring 2018 - Finding the Fossorial

Sunday 4th - Thawing Thayers

Fallow Deer

A full English set me up for the day as I headed from Reading down into Hampshire, first stop in the New Forest where ponies and fallow deer were foraging in the snow. All three colour forms of fallow deer were present, a creamy white one, several dark ones and a couple of spotted versions very nice to see all together. I headed to Burley where I located the distant Great grey shrike, I tried to get close but the place was in full melt and it was a swamp so I gave up and headed to Blashford lakes the final destination of the day. Here a small group were waiting for the Thayers gull, in the meantime we saw ring billed gull, several med gulls and a yellow legged gull. Eventually the Thayers was located at the far end of the gull roost and it was time to head home.

Chips - Poulner fish & chips, Ringwood - Battered Sausage, pea fritter and Chips 7.5/10

 

March

Saturday 30th - Soggy Squirrels

Black Squirrel

With poor weather the last two days I have been doing other stuff but a few incidental sightings of common field speedwell and sweet violet keeping my plant photo project ticking over. I popped in to see the melansitic grey squirrels at Letchworth as I was passing but little else.


Wednesday 28th - Follow the Star

Yellow Star of Bethlehem

I popped to Waylands Wood after work and dodged the showers to find some flowering yellow star of Bethlehem. I found about 20 or so flowering nicely with plenty more to come. I took a wander and found a few other plants flowering, primrose, early dog violet and barren strawberry and I made it back to the car before the heavens opened.


Sunday 25th - Musselborough a must

Buzzard

I was up at dawn, rechecking the bays again without any sign so about lunchtime I headed south. I made one stop at Musselborough where the White winged Scoter was showing distantly with a couple of velvet and common scoter but no sign of the surf scoter. I made it back home 1600 miles later but no walrus, still he who dares Rodney!

Chips - Cafe Central, Dunbar - Haggis and Chips 8/10

Saturday 24th - Where's Wally!

Red Deer

I chanced my arm and headed to Caithness to search for the Walrus, spotted there off and on over the last week. The uneventful drive took me into Sutherland where I stopped for 3 nice red deer stags shortly after dawn. I hit the coast and checked out every bay and beach on the OS map from Bettyhill to Amadale when news from Friday was it had been seen at Freswick. So there was my next destination but no sign so I searched south to Wick and then back north to Armadale. I searched along the coast to Wick for Chips stopping at Freswick once more and bumped into some locals looking for the walrus without any luck. A few nice common seals during the day and a few nice birds such as hooded crows, whooper swan and genuine rock doves

Chips - Henrietta's, Wick - Haggis and Chips 8/10

Sunday 18th - Forest Flit

Wild Boar

I popped into the Forest of Dean on the way home. Plenty of snow on the ground and loads of tracks shut. I met up with Ben and we headed for a wander to find some wild boar. No sign of wild boar but a brief flyover Goshawk was nice. We took a drive round and found a small herd of fallow deer and a small sounder of boar. Time was against us and we headed off after our brief visit.


Saturday 17th - Gusty Gower

Yellow Whitlow Grass

I was staying on the Gower peninsular and spent a few hours in the afternoon doing a bit of wildlife watching. First stop Pennard Castle home to a scarce plant yellow whitlow grass which was flowering nicely, maidenhair spleenwort, navelwort and danish scurvey grass also present, all difficult to photograph in very strong winds. I braved these at Worms Head where a wander brought me a short eared owl but little else of note.


Wednesday 14th - Mad Mothing

Common Quaker

I found the only warm evening of the last few weeks to put the moth trap out only 3 moths but nice to get something. Common Quaker, With a few toads and common newts out as well spring looked to be on the way.


Israel - February 2018

Saturday 10th - Trap Happy

Pygmy Shrew

I had set 35 traps at a rather rainy Fowlmere RSPB reserve the night before. A wildlife explorer group assisted me in opening them in much drier conditions. We had 8 captures not too bad considering the time of year. wood mice of course the most common 5 of those and 2 field voles are always nice to see, but the pick was a lone pygmy shrew allowing me to show all three types of small mammals. Not a bad morning.


Sunday 4th - Thawing Thayers

Fallow Deer

A full English set me up for the day as I headed from Reading down into Hampshire, first stop in the New Forest where ponies and fallow deer were foraging in the snow. All three colour forms of fallow deer were present, a creamy white one, several dark ones and a couple of spotted versions very nice to see all together. I headed to Burley where I located the distant Great grey shrike, I tried to get close but the place was in full melt and it was a swamp so I gave up and headed to Blashford lakes the final destination of the day. Here a small group were waiting for the Thayers gull, in the meantime we saw ring billed gull, several med gulls and a yellow legged gull. Eventually the Thayers was located at the far end of the gull roost and it was time to head home.

Chips - Poulner fish & chips, Ringwood - Battered Sausage, pea fritter and Chips 7.5/10

 

February

Wednesday 28th - Work Wonders

Bird Feeders

My new feeding station at work has been in place for a couple of months and has been very busy. My colleagues are even taking an interest keeping the feeders stocked when I am away. This has a nice selection of birds visiting marsh tits, jay, moorhen, red legged partridge and a trail camera has added a few mammals brown rat, wood mouse, rabbit, muntjac, fox. But today a stoat came visiting probably after rabbits or mice but very nice to see.


Monday 12th - Barney Burwell

Barn Owl

My last visit to Burwell was cut short by the pouring rain, so I spent a few hours this afternoon making up for the lost time. Plenty of roe deer but with no short eared owls there are hardly any people present and I spent some time with the Barn Owls 5 in total on the fen, they were often mobbed by kestrels. It was a lovely evening to watch them quartering over the fen as the sun set.


Saturday 10th - Brr well

Roe Deer

I spent a few hours wandering round Burwell fen, with no Short eared owls this winter it was much quieter than usual for a Saturday morning. Plenty of roe deer everywhere was the theme of the day with over 340 seen in several small herds. Birdwise it was a bit quiet somwhooper swans and a couple of sightings of a kingfisher the highlights. I made it back to the car before the rain set in and was eating chips as the downpour started before heading for home.

Chips - Rumbles, Exning - Battered Sausage and Chips 8/10

Saturday 3rd - Back to Birding

American Horned Lark

Despite the rain and my hangover I headed out to Staines to see the American Horned Lark which was showing considerable better than my last visit despite the poor weather. I showed well for a while then became flighty. I caught up with the black necked grebe and the scaup but no water pipit. I added the first flowers to my 2018 wildflower photography project befire heading to the car to dry out. After a cup of tea I headed to Walthamstow where the little bunting was elusive and only showed briefly a kingfisher was showing nicely as I headed for home.

Chips - Fish n Chick n, Harlow - Battered Sausage and Chips 8/10

 

January

Saturday 27th - Boaring

Wild Boar

The weather forecast I had seen was clearly different from reality and I arrived at Arlingham in torrential rain, I found the area the Richards pipit favoured and even found a pipit but it vanished into thin air without calling and I headed back to the car to dry out. I headed into the Forest of Dean first stop was an unsuccessful look for the great grey shrike who was probably sheltering from the wind and rain somewhere dry. I tried my luck with wild boar and a group rather tame boar of four showed really well. Another go for the shrike was again fruitless but a couple of fallow deer were showing distantly on the tree line. A quick look at Cannop pond for mandarin and raven but little else and as time drew on I headed for home.

Chips - Blakeney Chip in - Burger, chips, mush peas pickled egg 5/10

Tueaday 16th - Breckland Beauty

Otter

I have been very busy with work and other commitments so have not had the chance to do much recently. But I joined Ben, Connie and Kevin in the Brecks for the morning in search of otters. It was a chilly but bright morning but the sun was in the wrong place for most of the time making it tricky to get decent photos. But we did see two otters the first only briefly but the second allowed us to follow it for over and hour and a half before it gave us the slip. I had to work and had an evening commitment but I had a nice muntjac, Fox and Barn owl on way home.

Saturday 13th - Nasty Nikon, Wonderful WEX

I had to send my D500 back to Nikon, one of the strap lugs was very badly worn, excessivly so, the other had no wear so clearly something is wrong on a 10 month old camera. My old D300 and D7000 both which have had more use and have less wear on the lugs in fact they are almost unworn. So I assumed a warrenty repair - oh no Nikon claim wear and tear which I disputed but they would not budge and want 100 pounds to repair what a con. WEX who I bought the camera from supported my argument but with stiff opposition from Nikon could not do much to sway them, they however kindly offered to split the cost of the repair with me.

WEX 1 - Nikon 0 and I have just ordered a nice new expensive lens from WEX and it was not a Nikon.


Saturday 6th - Whisby Wonder

Black Headed Blue Tit

I had to go up north for a birthday party and with little about I headed into Lincolnshire to Whisby Nature Reserve just south of Lincoln. A arrived just before 9 in what was horid conditions. I settled into the shelter which offered som protection and waited for my target. The feeders were busy with a few common species blue, great and coal tits, robin, chaffinch, blackbird, jackdaw a couple of grey squirrels but it was the brown rats or big mice that some passers by noted that kept me entertained in the biting cold. Eventually the black headed blue tit that I had come to see arrived and showed nicely for a while and I had to leave. The black headed blue tit is a recessive genetic mutation that occurs occasionally in the area.

Monday 1st - Home

Happy New Year, I had a lazy day at home with just garden birds to watch I have one project this year to photograph 365 UK plant species in flower, you can see how I get on with the list on the sidebar.
 

2017 Review

Mammals

Beaver

Another good mammal year with some amazing encounters yet again fantastic Wild Boars and brilliant beavers, a mole crossing a road in Cumbria was a lucky find and local leisler's bats were worth mentioning. Probably the best encounter was a rather acrobatic stoat in Gloustershire that really put on a show. A total of 50 species in total (47 photographed) which makes the 10th year in a row exceeding 50 species, I won't try for 50 this year as I think I have demonstrated that 50 species in a year is now easily acheivable, but I will keep a list.

Birds

Cedar Waxwing

Another average bird year with 238 species seen some highlights were parrot crossbills, Coue's Arctic redpoll, ptarmigan, pine bunting, American Horned lark, white rumped sandpiper, bee eater, scops owl, Caspian Tern, Great Reed warbler, red breasted flycatcher, bluethroat and dotterel to name a few. New species were a bit thin on the ground and I only caught up with Cedar Waxwing and Elegant tern

Other Wildlife and Trips

Thistle Broomrape Mole Cricket

Following up on my other areas of interest I had a great year with some nice new Ladybirds the highlight was Platynaspis luteorubra, other highights were a Bedstraw hawkmoth, Lesser Emperor, currant clearwing, tansy beetle, mole cricket and finally catching up with Queen of Spain fritillary and Silver Washed Fritillary var valesina. Only one Whitebeam now eludes me after finding three this year the best the very rare Motley's Whitebeam. Several broomrapes and a whole selection of nice plants and a few rares such as Woodstock x Fly orchid hybrids, purple toothwort, alpine saw wort Sickle-leaved Hare's-ear, Bean broomrape, Thistle broomrape and bedstraw broomrape. Trip wise it was a bit quite and we had to cancel our main holiday due to unforseen circumstances a week in Ireland and Scotland for local specialities such as Dense flowered orchid and few days in Fuerteventura for the Fuerteventura stonechat and Algerian hedgehog and some nice houbara bustards.

Catch up with the 2017 blog

 
 

Upcoming Trips

  • Sri Lanka - April 2018
  • Scotland - July 2018
  • My Flickr Photos

     
     

    2018 Targets

  • Llangollen Whitebeam
  • Alpine Speedwell
  • Corsican Speedwell
  • Gentian Speedwell
  • Thrift Clearwing
  • Ladybird Spider
  • Orange Tailed Clearwing
  • Yarrow Broomrape
  • Bedstraw Broomrape
  • Ox Tongue Broomrape
  • Greater Broomrape
  • Thyme Broomrape
  • Cheddar Pink
  • Deptford Pink
  • Hyperaspis pseudopustulata
  • Scymnus schmidti
  • Scymnus nigrinus
  • Sand Catchfly
  • Early Gentian
  • Field Gentian
  • 2018 UK Mammal List (No Target This Year)

    Green when photographed

  • 1 - Grey Squirrel
  • 2 - Brown Hare
  • 3 - Brown Rat
  • 4 - Muntjac
  • 5 - Otter
  • 6 - Red Fox
  • 7 - Roe Deer
  • 8 - Fallow Deer
  • 9 - Wild Boar
  • 10 - Lesser Horseshoe Bat
  • 11 - Greater Horseshoe Bat
  • 12 - Stoat
  • 13 - Wood Mouse
  • 14 - Field Vole
  • 15 - Pygmy Shrew
  • 16 - Red Deer
  • 17 - Common Seal
  • 365 Plant Species Photo Project


    365 Plant Gallery

  • 1 - Red Dead Nettle
  • 2 - White Dead Nettle
  • 3 - Daisy
  • 4 - Snowdrop
  • 5 - Fox and Cubs
  • 6 - Smooth Hawk's Beard
  • 7 - Dandelion
  • 8 - Chickweed
  • 9 - Lesser Celandine
  • 10 - Greater Periwinkle
  • 11 - Shepherd's Purse
  • 12 - Maindenhair Spleenwort
  • 13 - Danish Scurvy Grass
  • 14 - Navelwort
  • 15 - Yellow Whitlow Grass
  • 16 - Gorse
  • 17 - White Butterbur
  • 18 - Yellow Start of Bethlehem
  • 19 - Barren Strawberry
  • 20 - Early Dog Violet
  • 21 - Primrose
  • 22 - Common Field Speedwell
  • 23 - Sweet Violet

  • 2018 Bird Race

    No Particular Order

  • 1 - ????

  • The Chip Count

    Chips 6
    Chip Butty
    Fish Cake
    Fish
    Battered / Sausage 3
    Battered / Burger
    Nuggets
    Saveloy
    Spring Roll
    Pickled Egg 1
    Cheese and Onion Fritter
    Baked Bean Fritter
    Mushy Peas / Fritter 2
    Spam Fritter
    Haggis 2/br> Burger 1
    Macaroni Pie
    King Rib
    Onion Rings
    Ice Cream

    2017 Total
    Chips 62
    Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites