This morning I got up and packed my bags, ready for a day out with Kate MacRae (also known as WildlifeKate) at her local patch in Lichfield.
I have been following her wildlife blog for years now, so it was very strange to actually visit her patch and see all her projects in the making. It also surprised me how similar our gardens were, adjacent to fields and enclosed by a mature hedge. However, there are just a few more wires running down the side of her garden than in mine…leading to the various wildlife cameras she had positioned around her garden, in bird boxes and lots of other feeding stations.
She has a bird watching hide in the centre of the garden, which allows her to get incredibly close to the birds visiting the feeders. I managed to get a few nice shots, especially of long-tailed tits, which are definitely more transient in my garden than in hers! Our shed is a little run down now, but over the summer I may try and create my own little birdwatching hide!
These are just a few examples of the unclose images you can get in a hide, without the birds even knowing your there! Blue tits are one of my favourite UK bird species, and I think they're often over-looked. I voted for them in the 'Britain's National Bird' competition. I often limit myself to taking photos of the birds on the feeders, however Kate gave me the idea of using natural forms, such as branches, for the birds to perch on, resulting in a more natural, realistic representation of the birds.
Long-tailed tits are such a interesting bird to photograph, as they have cheeky personalities and very unique colouring. There long tail makes them very easy to recognise from a distance, however the hide meant that they were so close we could probably touch them! Thats the great thing about glass, the suns reflection of the glass means that the birds outside probably see nothing but the reflection of trees, allowing you to get some amazing shots.
Kate also keeps hens on her patch. They have an enclosure with a roof at the end of her garden, hence why the lighting in the picture below is so dark. I still like it though!
Her patch made my mind explode with so many ideas for my own patch. Apparently there is a great deal on at Morrison's at the moment, where they're selling wildlife homes and bee hotels for really cheap. I will have to go and buy a few of them ready for the summer holidays! As you can probably see, I keep repeating 'summer' quite often, because I don't really have much time at the moment due to revision for GCSE's starting in May. I will therefore be giving my blog a break until they're over, which will only been a few months! But for the meantime, keep an eye on my Twitter as I'm sure I'll have time to make the occasional tweet….hopefully!
In the image below, you can see the wildlife flower turf just starting to grow. It is much more effective than planting regular wild flower seed, so I might have to invest in some at some point!
As I received a Bushnell trail camera for my birthday, and Kate is an avid user of these trail cams, she showed me how to set things up, using the colour playback screen which is only available on the current top model. I'm really looking forward to setting the camera up at school again. Hopefully this time I may actually capture some badger footage, fingers crossed! Overall, today was an amazing experience, and I hope to visit Kate again in the Summer holidays and maybe even visit Yew View.