Saturday, 16 July 2011

*** B R E A K I N G N E W S ***

July's news is as follows:

** Exams all passed!!! **

** Got involved with the draft of the Danbury Ridge Living Landscapes document **

** Found 4 dormice during a survey at Norsey Woods **

** First day of decent butterflying at Thorndon Country Park **

** Garden wildlife habitat "maturing" **

** Back in the rat race **

Ok, so they're the headlines.  Clearly I'm delighted to have passed all my exams and I can't wait to get back to college in 9 weeks...!

Whilst waiting for our exam results, Michelle and I got involved in writing a small section of the Living Landscapes document with Essex Wildlife Trust.  We wrote about lotic ecosystems and the importance of protecting such habitats.  It's not been published yet, but once it does I will post a link to it here. 

The next week we went along to help out at Norsey Woods in Billericay with their monthly dormouse survey.  They have a number of boxes throughout the wood and it took about 10 of us 3 hours to check them all.  The very first box that I opened had a dormouse nest so I was delighted, and quite excited by the likelihood of seeing one of these elusive creatures.

Dormouse nest
 Whilst Michelle and I were looking at slow worms in an open area of the woodland some of the other volunteers found a dormouse.  We abandoned the little legless critters and ran towards the nest box.  Sure enough here was the cutest mouse you could ever hope to see (although harvest mice are up there too...)  The picture below does not do him justice.  He was popped into this little bag to be weighed quickly and then he was carefully put back in the box.  We saw another three dormice during the survey.  One of which escaped out of the box as we tried to remove him - ran up my sleeve and jumped off my shoulder into the tree.

The very first dormouse

A couple of weeks later, on a beautiful sunny morning Joel and I set out for a walk in Thorndon Country Park.  We didn't have too much time and we'd never been there before so we thought we'd just have a brisk walk round and then head home.  I didn't count on catching a glimpse of what I believe was a Silver-washed Fritillary.  It was beautiful but just didn't stay around long enough to get a proper view, not did it settle so that we could get a picture!  However, we ended up spending a lot of time standing at the edge of the paths looking into thickets of bramble and nettle at the other species around.   A beautiful female Meadow Brown and a gorgeous chocolatey brown ringlet.

Female Meadow Brown


Trying to keep the garden an attractive place for wildlife whilst what we want to do with it.  So here is a glimpse at our wild flower meadow..... with the recent addition of a new bird table.  Essentially we have just left a strip of flower bed at the side to grow.  We've got some lovely plants: feverfew, wood dock, pink-sorrel, sneezewort, self-heal, red dead nettle, opium poppies and a variety of grasses.  The sparrows are loving the new bird table as well.  Looking out at them now and they've just scattered as Alfie the Jack Russell next door has frightened them off with his barking. 

Our "Wild Flower Meadow"

Sadly, I only get to look at my nature garden now at weekends as I have re-entered the world of work.  Back in HR at another advertising agency for the summer.  Hopefully the money earned here will go some way to funding my continued studies...

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