Monday, 4 January 2016

2015 Wildlife Highlights

This is the first time I've done a summary blog about my year's wildlife highlights but, having read other wildlife enthusiasts' blog posts, it seems like a easy way to convey my interests and projects to new readers. So, 2015 has been a BUSY year, with GCSE's taking up a lot of my free time - but somehow I managed to top last years 34 blog posts with 37 this year! Over the year I've met up with many fellow wildlife lovers, including Kate Macrae (aka WildlifeKate), Jack Perks, Sorrel Lyall, and many more, especially at this year's Birdfair. My bird box projects in my patch are gradually getting more and more ambitious, with five broods fledging throughout the breeding season. I'm going to go through each month to ensure I don't miss too much out…

This year was the first time I took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch ran by the RSPB. I spent exactly one hour, between 8am and 9am, recording all the species which visited my patch at any one moment. I recorded 11 different species, with an estimate of 88 individuals, most of which being wood pigeons! To take the investigation a step further, I asked a friend in the suburbs of Nottingham to take part in the bird watch, allowing me to compare the two sets of data. The rural location (my patch) received a higher amount of individual visits, 88 compared with 50, but the same amount of species diversity - both locations had 11 species visit in the hour duration. I uploaded the graphs I made illustrating this data onto my Twitter (in February)…and of course, where graphs go, Chris Packham follows! 

This month was relatively quiet, however I did have the opportunity to join Jack Perks at Attenborough Nature Reserve for a photography workshop. We spent the day exploring the reserve, photographing kingfishers, great crested grebes, oystercatchers, and some very tame robins! It was lovely to meet Jack and chat about our similar interests; we've bumped into each other various occasions since. 

The month of my birthday. Not only did I receive some fabulous wildlife-related gifts, including a Bushnell trail camera, I also journeyed to Staffordshire to meet with Kate Macrae at her incredible wildlife patch, packed with cameras to film any wildlife spectacle which takes place. Her patch is so inspiring, and I left at the end of the day with so many ideas for my own patch that my brain could have exploded with excitement! Her latest project is building an artificial badger sett at a site in Worcestershire which I'm incredibly envious of…


The real beginning of spring in my patch. The nest boxes are becoming occupied, and there is a certain atmosphere created as new life begins in it's various forms. Two of my nest boxes (both with cameras installed) were being used - one by a blue tit couple, and the other, a great tit couple. Here is an extract from my 14th of April blog post describing last year's bird box project: '...but I have also got an exciting new bird box this year, which is homemade. A Blue Tit pair has been building their nest in this box which I am thrilled about. One of the pair has very distinct black markings on its face, possibly caused by loss of feathers, or something similar, allowing me to identify it individually. This bird box has got a glass back, and is mounted on my shed. This lets me get incredibly close to the action.'


The month of my Silver DofE Expedition, Wildlife Magazine excitement and the peak of the breeding season. Firstly, my expedition took me, and a group of school friends, to the Brecon Beacons national park for a 3 day expedition. The terrain was tough, and the gales were strong, but overall the experience was very enjoyable, with ample wildlife seen along our 60 km route. During the month I met up with fellow enthusiasts at an exhibition in Nottingham, displaying the work of the year's students - those doing the Biological photography and imaging course at Nottingham university. The event was very inspiring, with Kate giving a talk during the evening. 

I woke up one morning with fabulous news that I was the BBC Wildlife Magazine's blogger of the week, having posted a blog illustrating my latest project: a 'spy in the pod' style Mallard camera! The contraption was remote controlled, had a Gopro mount for close up shots both above and below the surface, and an external microphone. I have experimented with it multiple times since, but I'm still reining the design!

May, in my patch, is the busiest month regarding breeding birds. During the month the eggs were incubated, the eggs hatched, the chicks developed and the chicks fledged. To see my full blog post click here.

June saw the beginning of the #30DaysWild challenge ran by the Wildlife Trusts. This challenge encouraged members of the public to do something 'wild' every day of June. This could include going on a woodland walk, picking fresh flowers from the garden, going on a bug hunt, building a den etc. What did I choose to do?

Made a hedgehog ramp to assist the passage of hedgehogs throughout my patch. 

Took some snaps of garden mushrooms using a homemade photography booth.

Made some mint tea using fresh mint leaves from the garden!

In June I also began my 'Want to help nature?' blog series where I gave tips about how to encourage and sustain wildlife in and around your patch. This was well received with lots of good feedback! Anyway, that's it for this blog post. The review of months July - December will be up shortly, including TV appearances, work experience tales and global rallies in aid of elephants!