Made in October 2011 [VIDEOS], three great things to look out for this month: acorn crazy Jays, Rutting Fallow Deer & fun looking Fungi!
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Apologies for the inaccuracies in the Fungi video; pronunciation of hallucinogenic and apparently you can eat Amethyst Deceivers – but it is better to be safe than sorry! (No matter how good a recipe sounds!)
Two years ago my friend Jamie Wyver and I visited the wonderful Welney Wetland Centre, near Wisbech in the east of England (Norfolk). We were there filming for episode five of our TV series, The Wild Side, which was commissioned and broadcast by Cambridge TV (now called That’s Cambridge). The main subject of course, was the beautiful Bewick’s and Whooper Swans, as they migrate there each year in their thousands from Artic Russia and Iceland. You’ll see in the last part of the episode (below), I was given the amazing opportunity to perform a floodlit feed!
The now classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, UK Amber and Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, Eurasian Curlew are still holding on at Upton Warren in the landlocked county of Worcestershire in the West Midlands region, and they can be seen throughout autumn and winter, roosting at The Flashes most evenings.
For waders they’re large and tall, approx the size of female a Pheasant – making them the largest European wading bird. Their haunting call (‘Cur-lee’) is unmistakable – it’s one of my favourite bird calls – it can be heard from February through to July on its breeding grounds; wet grasslands, farmland, heath and moorlands. From July onwards coastal numbers start to build up and peak in January.
Curlews feed on worms, shrimps and shellfish. The largest concentrations of them are found at Morecambe Bay, the Solway Firth, the Wash and the Dee, plus, the Severn, Humber and Thames estuaries. Their greatest breeding numbers are found in north Wales, the Pennines, the southern uplands and east Highlands of Scotland and the Northern Isles.
The agricultural intensification (e.g drainage and reseeding) of upland farmland and moorland – plus the afforestation of moorland – is a big factor in the decline of their breeding population.
Joined up with midlands naturalist Adam L. Canning for a trip over to Hilbre Island, Cheshire yesterday for a winter fix of waders and sea ducks. A total of 7hrs was spent on the island with Adam, resulting in a number of notable species: Purple Sandpiper, Common Scoter, Rock Pipit, Brent Goose (ssp. hota), Common Eider and an unseasonable Northern Gannet to name but a few.
The perfect lighting gave way for some ample photographic opportunities of the wintering Purple Sandpipers on the island, I’ve uploaded several onto the blog. Hopefully you’ll be able to make out the purple iridescence which gives them their name.
So, it’s February and quite a lot of us are seeing signs of spring. But what wildlife is there to see? Well, here are my four short fact filled informative videos; on some cool bird species you should look and listen out for this month!
From Friday 18th to Sunday 20th I attended the 29th annual Birdfair – if you don’t know what that is and haven’t read my post from two years ago: click here!
Due to prior commitments I didn’t attended last year and this year I almost never went. If you remember my post about Birdfair two years ago, you may have worked out that this makes it my 6th year at this remarkable wildlife festival/convention! It has been a busy few months leading up to the fair, with my new conservation qualification – so it was somewhat a last minute decision to go. My three day e-tickets weren’t purchased until the beginning of the week! Missing another year would not sit right with me.
On the Friday I didn’t arrive until 2.30pm, happily receiving my yellow wristband, late, I know – which was due to finalising camping arrangements at Wing Hall. 😛 We never plan it, yet it always happens, every time I arrive the first person I bump into is Mike Dilger! Mike made me feel so welcome at my first ever Birdfair back in 2010 and he has been quite encouraging about my wildlife presenting career. For those that don’t know, I co-presented a 5 part series called The Wild Side on Cambridge TV. 🙂
Nowadays I have people to hold my coats / jackets for me. . . I’m kidding! 😉 Shortly afterwards, whilst making my way to Marquee 8, I saw my good friend and co-presenter, Jamie Wyver. 😀
Just as we were catching up and letting Gary know what to expect etc (as he had never been before), our friend Stephen Le Quesne plus our Twitter & Birdfair pals, Paula and Gail bumped into us! I had my picture taken with Stephen as we’ve not had one since 2011! (At the WWT London Wetland Centre!).
Mine and Stephen’s pals, Paula and Gail didn’t get in on the photo sadly. It was really nice seeing them since my absence! 🙂 Then it was off to Marquee 8, to pay a visit to the A Focus On Nature (AFON) stand to say hi and show my support for their new campaign Now for Nature, at the time the stand was manned by Ryan Clark and Andreas Fopp.
After a bit of a wander around the other marquees, I saw my first talk which was Brexit & the Environment: the way forward – chaired by Rob Lambert, it was really good. Everybody on the panel pretty much agreed with one another on the issues raised, and to summarise; they strongly believed that conservation NGOs have to work closely with farmers and DEFRA for a sustainable and environmentally friendly future. My sentiments exactly.
Before the fair I had came across some work by the Butterfly Brothers and saw that they were putting together the very first show garden at this years Birdfair, to go alongside their stand. So of course I had to pay them a visit. They were inundated with admirers and enquirers, understandably so. It was great meeting them and having a good old chin wag about wildlife gardening and how it is gradually becoming accepted as a ‘thing’ and how it’s fashionable now. It was fantastic to discover they won Best Stand in Show! 😀
Over the years, there has certainly been a shift in the way people garden, and this was very apparent at this year’s BBC Gardeners’ World Live. There were lots more naturalistic designs and wildlife-friendly show gardens, which is great inspiration to help people continue to think differently and take wildlife into consideration with their planting choices. For two years I have been advocating nature friendly gardening whilst I’m there and interviewing the garden designers, Editor of the magazine and the TV presenters. 🙂
You may not find my last photo of the day funny, but I do, it was taken at The Urban Birder stand (Marquee 8).
Just before I was leaving, I saw Lucy McRobert and it just seemed natural for us to embrace after a full on day, her’s more so than mine! ❤
The day before, I arrived late and broke with tradition – which is visiting and catching up with Kate MacRae first thing, on the Bushnell stand (before or after bumping into Mike, of course). So as soon as I arrived for day two, I sought out Wildlife Kate and we had our overdue catch up. I was hoping to get a photo with her, as like with Stephen, only one photo of us together existed. Before I could ask we noticed there were customers looking like they needed a hand, so like the professional Kate is, she went and helped them out and I left her to it. 🙂
Next stop was the Events Marquee to see Mike Dilger’s talk, So you want to be a wildlife presenter?! Everything he discussed I somewhat related to, and it was nice seeing clips from the packages he has done for the BBC’s The One Show – some of them I saw first on the show’s broadcasts. Sometime afterwards he and I had a wee catch up.
There were a few familiar faces in the audience. (Which you can’t see in the above photo). Megan and I had never met before, so I said hello to her after the talk and it was a must to get a picture together, wearing our fabulous animal themed clothing etc.
Gary and I wandered around the various marquees again, before it was my mate Jack Perks‘ talk – Freshwater Fishes of Britain, which honestly was very interesting! I had a wee catch up with Jack before hand. It was great seeing him and Josh Jaggard again, plus meeting Cain Scrimgeour. Straight after Jack’s talk, it was time for the annual A Focus On Nature (AFON) members photograph and the end of the day! Ben Eagle was kind enough to introduce himself to me after the photo was taken.
After the first two days, I needed a late start, so it was decided I wouldn’t arrive at the fair until a few minutes before a talk by the one and only Bill Oddie!
It isn’t just you, people often think the above is a family photo – as far as I know we’re not related, unfortunately. . . aha! It is Mr. Oddie who inspired me to get into wildlife film-making and presenting, with the various series he has presented, one of them being Springwatch. Bill Oddie is essentially the father of Springwatch, without him it would not exist today! Of course I love Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries, but it was Bill who felt more like an on screen grandfather to me, teaching me and maintaining my love of British wildlife. ❤
The last talk I saw was Simon King‘s and as ever, we heard about his recent wildlife film-making and he gave us a much needed reminder and awakening. In short, it was to get us to think about our shopping habits and how it is affecting the countryside – meaning our demand is influencing how the rural landscape is farmed, thus intensive farming is causing the loss of our wildlife through destruction of its habitat. Simon suggests we go back to eating seasonally and reduce the amount of dairy products we consume, this will lessen the pressure on farmers and in turn, the land!
I apologise for the quality of the photo, but you can just make out what the table is telling you.
As I mentioned in my last blog post – a few years ago I made a series of short videos which were featured on the Reader’s Digest Magazine website, entitled Wildlife Monthly.
Each video is around a minute or more, detailing flora and fauna (mainly fauna) for you to look out for; below I have included one video from my June 2012 edition and three from my 2011 June edition – each with a coastal theme.