Back From My Break

You’ll have noticed I have had a bit of break from blogging, initially due to exhaustion  / depression (thanks for the kind words), then finding out that I need to move house and thus beginning the stress of finding somewhere new, packing and such. So I have been a bit distracted lately! I haven’t yet moved, but am using writing as a distraction technique from the moving stress.

Now, what do we need to catch up on? A couple of things, for sure.

  • BBC Wildlife Magazine – I was Highly Commended in their Wildlife Blogger Awards 2015 which is super exciting and so wonderful to get such amazing feedback on my blog. Full details of Winners and other Highly Commended bloggers on the BBC Wildlife website.
  • We got a cat! And one of the feline variety, rather than a moth caterpillar as is the normal way for us (well, me). She is called Mowgli, she is three (ish) years old and we got her from a local animal shelter. She is very funny, though not always keen on being affectionate.
  • I got a moth cat.! It was found in Kent just after Christmas, and I will admit to being a little anxious about it. The last green caterpillar I picked up and tried to rear died on me, but the online Lepidoptera community identified for me as an Angle Shades caterpillar (Phlogophora meticulosa). It has now made its cocoon and is pupating. Updates will follow.  Other wildlife was also photographed in Kent, though I don’t know what they all are – i.e. the fungus.

 

I still haven’t had a chance to properly get out into the parkland of Wimpole and discover what wildlife lives there, but I hope to do so soon. Nonetheless, I have of course been keeping track of the wildlife I have seen. My Wimpole bird list is steadily increasing, with the most recent species added to the list being Greenfinch (Chloris chloris), Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus), Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) and Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris). The usual bird suspects have of course been seen on a regular basis, plus some other wildlife – Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae), Mottled Umber moths (Erannis defoliaria) and Two-spot Ladybird (Adalia bipunctata). The Winter Aconites (Eranthis hyemalis I think) in front of the restaurant are looking good, and the Snowdrops (Galanthus) in the garden too apparently (though  I haven’t seen them yet).

I also found a very interestingly-coloured feather (see below). The iridescent blue / green colour isn’t due to the photo, it’s the actual colour. What do you think it could be?

In addition to keeping track of my own wildlife sightings, I have obtained a diary for 2016 that can be used by other members of the Visitor Welcome Team to note down what they see. I hope to collate the data and send it off to the local records centre and the county recorders. I am also encouraging other staff, volunteers and visitors to add in their sightings too, through word of mouth and writing a small piece for the Wimpole Herald (the in-house newsletter). I have had great fun creating it as I have cut out pictures of British wildlife from some old BBC Wildlife Magazines, and have stuck them in and annotated them. Good learning experience for me, and hopefully others will enjoy flicking through it during the quiet moments at work.

A last note on Wimpole. I had my first lunch break in the restaurant this week, and it was delicious! Sitting with the Head Gardener and his wife, they informed me that the soup was made from squash they had grown. How wonderful! Plus the homemade foccacia and cheese scone were scrumptious! I should treat myself to lunch there more often!

One freezing day, we decided it would be a good idea to visit RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes. It was lovely, but I am not particularly good at standing still in the cold waiting for a Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) to appear. I went for a wander instead to keep warm and to practice my bird identification skills.

Last but not least, I want to share the good news that I have already completed one of my 2016 Wildlife Resolutions! I took part in the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt, although I will admit that Ryan Clark had to help with the identification of many of them. I did recognise a good few though, such as the beautiful Blackthorn flower (Prunus spinosa), plus some other wildlife about. A male Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) taking a break from hunting and a group of Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus). Sadly I only have blurry photos of the last, the combination of amateur photographer, fast-moving birds and poor lighting does not work well.

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15 thoughts on “Back From My Break

  1. Your cat looks sweet. I have a black cat too. She is also a rescue. She took a while to settle in but is now ( 2years later) best friends with the dog. You have some very springy pics there. Winter has arrived for sure in Lancashire. Snow here now. Have seen my first barn owl too….last week. It was amazing! Hope your feeling better. x

    • It was interesting at the shelter as they were saying that black cats typically take longer to home, since they are still deemed unlucky by some people!

      Yes, it has been very spring like here, although we had a sprinkling of snow this morning!

  2. Are you going to start a list of all the species your new cat ‘brings home’?
    I’ve never understood naturalists who have a cat when we all know how much devastation they cause to their local wildlife populations. Darwin was right when he said the ownership of a cat has great implications on the local wildlife: the cat kills the small mammals so there are none of their nests for bumblebees to use, with a knock-on affect of less pollination of wild flowers and fewer wildflowers means fewer other insects and fewer seeds for the finches et al in winter…and so the cycle continues.

    • I shall indeed be keeping a record. We don’t know yet if she is hunter, since we’ve only just got her and thus she hasn’t been out yet. Of course, I am hoping she isn’t into hunting, but it would be unlikely I know. I’m hoping that a collar with a bell on will reduce the casualties.

      I got a cat because (a) I love cats (and animals in general), and (b) I have volunteered for an animal welfare charity previously. There are thousands of cats (and other animals) in shelters across the country. If I can do my bit to help even just one cat find a home, I will do so.

  3. Mowgli is gorgeous! So glad you’re back blogging and feeling a bit better – have missed your blog posts and congrats on the Wildlife blogger of the year award!! 😀

  4. Pingback: Owl have some of that! – Barcode Ecology

  5. Pingback: Wildlife Resolutions of 2016 – Barcode Ecology

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