So long and thanks for all the proverbial fish, Part Two

Having been visited by my parents, packed up my belongings in Dorset, finished my job, had a mad couple of days getting my car fixed, and finally moved house, I have finally got to the end of a very hectic couple of weeks. Despite being so busy, I have still managed to get out and about to see some wildlife!

w/c 12th October

Weekend with the parents over, and my last few days with Dorset Wildlife Trust commenced. However, I didn’t get much time to wander around, especially after work as I needed to dash up to London to attend the launch of the Response For Nature : England report. I was there with two hats on – first, as Matt’s plus one since he was giving one of the speeches in the marketplace, and second, as a member of A Focus On Nature. I have written a full blog post about the event for the AFON blog, but personally I had a fab time meeting people and discussing conservation – particularly with those who are interested in supporting AFON in different ways.

Another mad dash in order to get back to Dorset for my last day! Very saddening, but I have had an excellent time these last few months! After a day at the Sherborne Literary Festival, I had a super yummy leaving dinner in Weymouth where I had to say goodbye to everyone. But I am sure I will see them all again – if only when I’m on holiday in Dorset (bound to happen, how else will I see Lulworth Skipper next year?).

Then suddenly it was the weekend and time to leave Dorset! When did that happen?! Of course, I couldn’t leave without heading over to Portland Bird Observatory for some last minute chilling out and wildlife watching. I got slightly distracted from birding by a male Speckled Bush-Cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima) that was resting on the door. The others weren’t so interested, but I was fascinated. Particularly when he started grooming himself, it was brilliant to watch and learn more about the behaviour of this species.

I was moving to Cambridge via Sussex (of course!), and travelled across to Sussex via a village called Amberley as Matt had read about a juvenile Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) being seen there. We didn’t manage to spot it, but we did still have a wander around, and up to the top of the South Downs! In doing so, I managed to get two (birding) lifers – Red-Legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) and Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix)! And whilst we didn’t see the Pallid Harrier, we saw at least three birds of prey – Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). The latter is a particular favourite having spent early summer watching the kestrels at Lorton. But then, I also love Red Kites – having spent many hours watching them in Wales!

It being mid-October now, I’m going to swap into winter mode and write every two weeks. However, there may be the odd extra blog post in between – guest posts, opinion pieces, and who knows what else!

A Walk In The Woods

Festive tradition saw my family and I taking a lovely walk, in an attempt to wear off some of the calories we had piled on during the gluttony that is Christmas. Past walks, dependent on the Christmas have been along Hertfordshire fields, up onto the South Downs, the Newhaven coastline and over the pebbles of Seaford beach. This year saw us in Sussex again where we went off to someone new – Selwyns Wood, a Wildlife Trust reserve not far from Uckfield.

Naturally, we needed a few days to wallow in our self-pity from eating so much, but soon enough we were entering the wooded and muddy reserve. Luck was on our side as we strolled in the warm sunshine, discussing how I might improve my photography and laughing at our dog’s antics.

A pretty start to our walk!

A pretty start to our walk!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the dog before on this blog – a gorgeous black and white Lab-Collie cross called Toby. For him, a walk is not complete until two events have occurred. First, he has met at least one other friendly dog, though it need not be a playful one but he does like to be sociable and say hello. Since at home, he is often taken for walks with family friends and their dogs, that event is easily ticked off. Second, he does love to go into a river, or lacking that, a large puddle. He can’t swim mind, but he does like to jump about and then run around like a mad puppy after.

The handsome Toby

The handsome Toby

Fortunately, we met some friendly dogs, and there was a stream for him to paddle in before leaping out and barking at us. There was plenty of wildlife to take notice of as well, smaller birds flitting in and out of the trees. A walk across the heathland part of the reserve prompted discussions on the different plant species, with my attempting to remember the little I know about heathland plants. The gorse flowers were a sight for sore eyes, a bright yellow colour shining in the sunlight amid the green of the gorse.

Bright yellow makes the day feel even sunnier

Bright yellow makes the day feel even sunnier

The muddiness and puddles of the paths did little to deter us, rather instead they made it more enjoyable I think. I do always enjoy a good splashabout in my wellies, particularly when the dog joins in. One highlight of the walk were the two woodpeckers of unknown species. Naturally, they were either flying or on the opposite side of branches, so I failed in getting a photo. I shall just have to take more walks in woodland. We also came across a few types of fungus and spotted some pretty berries which made some nice photos.

Fungi!

Fungi!

A lovely spot of colour

A lovely spot of colour

A great finish to our outing was a rather late pub lunch – superb food and atmosphere! And a well-behaved dog, even when the horses went past!