I was trying to find a Garden Warbler in our garden so I was sitting outside with my chair against the fence. Suddenly I heard a scrabbling on the fence above me so I looked up and there, 30cm away, staring right into my face was a Red Squirrel! If I was in Northern Scotland or in one of the very few places that you can see them in England I would have been mildly surprised but I am pretty sure that there are no Red Squirrels in WEST SUSSEX… Until now that is. It went all the way round the garden to the front garden and we followed. It then climbed surprisingly well up a Monkey Puzzle tree then jumped from that to an Oak. It then sat on a branch close to the trunk and stayed there for 20 minutes continuously looking down on me. It then went down the trunk of the tree into a laurel bush where it continued it’s journey through next door’s front garden. We think it might of come from the British Wildlife Centre 5 miles down the road but it is still an awfully long way to walk. Or maybe there was a secret population in Sussex all along…
I put the Identification on Ispot, a website where you can post any photos, possible IDs, whereabouts etc. of an animal that you are not sure about. I have not got a reply from another member of Ispot yet but I will keep you updated.
My dad's Red Squirrel photo
My Red Squirrel snapshot
On the way there we listened to the beautiful song of a Blackbird in the forest and saw a tiny Goldcrest hop about in the Birch. In the field a Green Woodpecker flew over our heads and towards a flock of 7 Carrion Crows. When we got to the lake I could see the Mute Swan family was on the shore feeding and the same Canada goose was preening itself. While we were walking to the end of the lake I heard the hum of wings above me and we saw 15 Canada Geese land on the lake. There was then a group of 9 Canada geese followed by another 15 and a flock of 23. As a surprise a group of 29 Greylag Geese then came to land on the lake. Before the was just 1 Canada Goose and now there are 100+ Geese to keep him company! When I finished my snack I went to look at a field of corn nearby to the lake when I saw a Speckled Wood butterfly next to the path and I got quite a few good photos.
Speckled Wood Butterfly
I was walking past the large Oak tree when I noticed that the entrance to the nest box had been blocked up by cobwebs so I decided it was time to clean out the nest box. I got my dad to take it down and we opened it up. Inside we saw two huge House Spiders and a thick blanket of webs unfortunately there was 7 eggs inside a thick nest which belonged to a pair of Blue Tits. This was strange as the other nest box hadn’t been occupied yet there were lots of juvenile Blue Tits on the feeder!
Unfortunately it was raining today so we couldn’t walk there so we drove there. As soon as we got there we could see that the Mute Swan family, a Canada Goose and lots of Mallards were already on the shore being fed bread. As I walked along the lake I could only see one Great Crested Grebe – immature – and it was diving frequently. When I got to the end of the lake I saw two tiny, vivid blue birds flying really quickly along the reeds. When they went around the corner I recognised them as Kingfishers, the first time I’ve seen them there!
I haven’t been to Hedgecourt for a long time so it was good to go there. There is a long woodland path to get there but you see most of the wildlife down at the lake. Hedgecourt is our nearest reserve and I love going there but today I saw 3 new species since I could remember! We saw 2 Comma Butterflies sunning themselves on the path on the way there and Wrens and Robins were also common sights in the leaf litter. When we got to the lake there was a big group of Mallards on the edge of the lake and there was also a small flock of Blue Tits in a Tree. As we walked along the edge of the lake I saw a House Sparrow take off from its perch on a wall and some Common Gulls soaring overhead. At the end of the lake we accidentally spooked some Moorhens but they only half swam/half flew a few metres before they relaxed again. When we got back to the other end of the lake I was delighted to see that there were 6 Great Crested Grebes on the lake, a family of 2 Mute Swans had joined the Mallards and a female Mandarin Duck was also with the Mallards! It was my first Mandarin Duck and I have looked everywhere for it, Heever Castle, WWT centres, RSPB Reserves and lots more places but I never thought I would find it there!!
I recently watched Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival and it is really good! When Gordon Buchanan went to try and find the Scottish Wildcat I found out that he went to a place called Ardnamurchan. I was amazed because it was only a week ago that I went there! He also set up a Camera Trap to film the Wildcat but all he got was a Pine Marten. But guess what I got on my Camera Trap there… A Pine Marten! After watching the bit where Ellie Harrison woke up early to hear the Dawn Chorus I decided to wake up early tomorrow and hear it myself. I woke up at 5:40 the next morning and got up and sat by the window. There wasn’t much of a Dawn Chorus but I did see 8 Cormorants fly over (probably heading to our local nature reserve just down the road, Hedgecourt nature reserve) and a Robin and a Blackbird doing their early morning errands!
So much happened at Glenmore cottage, Ardnamurchan that I couldn’t write the whole thing, so I just did highlights. Here they are:
I left peanuts out one evening to attract the Pine Marten then I put the Trailcam (another word for Camera trap) by it. Luckily I put it in the perfect position so every time the two Pine Martens came to the peanuts I would get a photo or video of them. They seem to love peanuts and came back 8-9 times and they don’t seem to mind the trailcam, one jumped right at it! Any hopes of seeing it with my own eyes would have been fruitless as it came from 3am-5am.
As we were driving along a road in a mountainous grassland area I saw a flash of red and found some Linnets perched on a fence post and Skylarks chirping their melodious song as they flew upwards.
As we walked back to the cottage after a rather depressing walk on a really boggy island dodging dried up jellyfish a sight of a tiny Goldcrest made our spirits high again. There are a few Conifers bordering the cottage so I think it might of made a nest/hatched in them.
We went along the same road as we did when we saw the Skylarks and Linnets but we didn’t see any this time, we saw something just as good, our first Red Deer! It started off with a group of 3 hinds and then another group of 3 hinds. We then came across a group of 15 plus hinds which was good. No stags yet though.
We were waiting at a pier for a ferry to arrive to take us to the Isle of Mull when I looked over the edge. There was a group of 40 or more jellyfish (alive) and at least 3 different species, one of which was a moon jelly!
When we got back from the Isle of Mull we decided to go to Sanna. Sanna is a town with a lovely beach and luckily the weather was perfect for us so we could really enjoy it. On the way down to the beach I saw a Eurasian Wheatear, my fist ever, just hopping about in the short grass!
When we went to Ardnamurchan natural history centre we went into the exhibition first. All the exhibits were engrossing but one stood out from the rest. There was a glass pane backing onto a real wild pond but the glass also went under the water! We saw a really long Eel that was at least 40cm long swim past! It was the highlight of my day!
At dinner we saw another special animal in the bay. My mum first saw a head poking out so she called me and I called my dad and we all were really excited about it… An otter!
Today we went whale watching and we saw lots and lots of wildlife. The first interesting creature we saw was a pair of Harbour Porpoises, very shy and calm. You can usually tell the difference between Dolphins and Porpoises because when they need to breathe the Dolphins do a full on breach while the Porpoises fin and back are the only thing in view. We usually saw Guillemots drifting past us in pairs. Razorbills did the same. I only saw one Puffin and it was running in the water, about to take off. We also saw a few large flocks of Gannets focused on stealing the fish from fishing boats. A nice treat were some tiny Manx shearwaters, I never realised how small the actually were! We drove into a channel by Coll to have some lunch. We saw lots of Common Seals on the rocks and only 1 Grey Seal. One Common Seal came really close! We also saw some Comic Terns diving for small fish in the shallow water. ‘Comic Terns’ is the name most ornithologists give to Common and Arctic Terns as even the best birders can’t tell them apart. As we left Coll a really exciting thing happened. One of the other passengers spotted a fin in the water! It was chaos as people started yelling ‘Basking Shark!’ and it was! There wasn’t just one Basking Shark, there were eight! The biggest one that was approximately 10m long came so close that we could make out it’s giant mouth and it’s nose popping out of the water! We saw some Fulmars in the open ocean as we left Coll. They were gliding so quickly yet so effortlessly! Later on the driver said he saw a Minke Whale. My dad said he saw it first but he was on his way to the driver to say ‘I might have seen a whale’ but he was interrupted by someone yelling ‘WHALE!!!’ rudely. It was quite big but not as big as the Basking Shark!