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.


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

WiFi Camera Fox Video

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
  • 3 - Muntjac
  • 4 - Brown Hare
  • 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
  • 100 New Plant Species Photo Project

  • 1 -

  • 2021 Bird Race

    No Particular Order

  • ??

  • The Chip Count

    Battered / Sausage
    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