Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A nocturnal visitor a national icon and dedication.

Hello and welcome to my latest blog, I hope you have all been enjoying the summer although the weather has somewhat worsened  from the glorious sunshine we had all naively become accustomed to. I was recently delighted to have this blog added to the UK and Eire Natural History Bloggers site, by following the link on my homepage, you can also read the other fine work of fellow enthusiasts of the natural world. Regular readers may remember in previous blogs features on the wildlife we are lucky enough to have visit our garden. The latest species to see the garden as a potential food source however may well have caused the most excitement amongst the household yet, more on that later. As always any feedback on improvements you think could be made or suggestions for what you would like to see included are most welcome I hope you enjoy this edition.

A very special visitor.

A while ago I believe I mentioned a chance encounter in our garden between my brother and a Badger feeding on slugs and any other morsels it could find. Since then however thanks to the providing Hovis sliced loaf and Tesco's trusty crunchy peanut butter, we have become privileged enough to have some truly remarkable encounters.

It's approaching 10 o'clock and the last of the light is just beginning to fade. The bread and peanut butter laid on the lawn is soon to be devoured. Suddenly a rustle of branches announces the arrival of our first nocturnal visitor, cautiously to start with, the Badger begins to appear, firstly only its trademark black and white facial markings visible in the gloomy darkness. Soon however, the lure of the peanut butter is to much, the smell wafting up the nostrils of its highly sensitive nose and the search is on. The peanut butter never stood a chance each mouthful consumed with even more relish than the first and all the time the Badger comes closer, ever closer to us sitting in the conservatory trying to keep noise to an absolute minimum, as our garden guest continues to feast on our offerings all the time growing in confidence.  A few minutes later and we our almost within two feet of the Badger and completely captivated by it's beauty and then another appears, far more nervous but again the smell of Tesco's peanut butter is irresistible. Searching for offerings which have so far escaped the attentions of the first Badger its keen sense of smell working overtime in now almost complete darkness its snuffling as the feeding intensifies clearly audible . Eventually with peanut butter well and truly demolished, they move on in search of more natural food sources in the garden and then in other parts of the local area. These encounters which happen now almost every night are truly incredible, and we are privileged to have the opportunity to witness some amazing creatures from such a close distance.

Photo: Same time, same place every night now,  our lovely badger friends. Too busy eating to mind us.
Photo taken by Mary Wykes

And on the subject of garden wildlife....

Please be sure to leave a bowl of fresh water in your garden through the summer this could prove to be an invaluable source of refreshment for our wildlife such as the charismatic Hedgehog. This lovable species has recently  been named Britain's National Species winning a poll organised by BBC Wildlife Magazine with 42% of the vote. The Badger finished the poll in second with the Ash tree completing the top three in third.  With the species in decline this is a fantastic boost for the species.

World Ranger Day.

Today is World Ranger Day a day where the hard work, bravery and dedication of so many inspirational people around the world is given the recognition it deserves, without these wonderful people, our wildlife would be exposed and terribly vulnerable to the greed of poachers.
For further reading on this subject which has deservedly gained Royal attention follow this link:
http://www.iucn.org/?13478/IUCN-celebrates-World-Ranger-Day-as-Prince-William-salutes-park-rangers-brave-and-tireless-work


Trails and Tails Travel

Looking for a truly wild and wonderful adventure? want to see some natures most amazing natural creations ? Trails and Tails Travel offers a wide range of once in a lifetime opportunity to visit some of the most amazing locations on the planet run by Nicole and Matthew, you can loo at their website by following this link http://www.trailsandtailstravel.com/ you can also connect with them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/george.wykes?ref=tn_tnmn#!/TrailsAndTailsTravel?fref=ts.

Twitter

You can follow me on Twitter @ReallyWildWykes where I will be posting regular sources of wildlife news, images and of course my blog updates direct to my Twitter account.
That is all for now everyone thank you for reading and all the best,
George.

That is all for this week I hope you enjoyed the blog and thank you for reading, all the best,
George

Friday, 5 July 2013

Wildlife highlights and animal behaviour.

Hello and welcome to my latest blog I hope you are all well and looking forward to read this latest edition. While on the train (again) on Monday, I was lucky enough to witness one of my favourite sights, a beautiful adult Buzzard flying effortlessly across the field next to our train the sunlight catching perfectly both its stunning colours and awesome muscular power. As I have set before this is surely one of the most iconic sights of the countryside and it got me thinking what are my top five wildlife encounters so far? after a lot of head scratching I have produced what could be my top five wildlife moments, however by the time you read this my mind may of been changed again ! Also featuring in this blog amazing animal behaviour whether it be unlikely alliances or fascinating behaviour adapted over a period of time unique to a species or even an individual these glimpses into the natural world are sure to fascinate as always I hope you enjoy the blog.

My top five wildlife encounters.

1) An encounter with a speedster.
My visit to South Africa produced numerous highlights which could of featured in this list but I wanted to limit my African experiences to only one space and this ultimately produced one of my hardest decisions. I was incredibly lucky with the wildlife I witnessed, Black Rhinos and African Wild Dogs being two sightings which took our breath away. Top of my list however goes to a species which from a young age captivated me with its beauty and subsequently had me glued to many a nature documentary. When two male Cheetahs emerged from the early morning gloom their elegant frames mere silhouettes at first, but as they approached our research vehicle their beauty was visible for all to see and left me barely able to contain my excitement as the fastest land animal on the planet melted away back into the bush, the Cheetah must top my list.



Image taken by Author.

2) Stealing centre stage.
On a school trip at the age of six, our class was taken to a local theatre to watch a production this particular theatre has a rather stunning sea view directly behind it however, and on a warm, sunny afternoon a marine coleuses was about to steal the limelight. Mid-way through a scene and a gasp of amazement from the crowd followed by excitement which rippled through the audience brought everyone’s attention to the cause of it all. A large fin had broken the surface of the calm waters and now as the crystal clear sea allowed an amazing view of the entire giant the cast began to realise they were fighting a losing battle. Of course this incredible creature was a basking shark and it soon became clear there was another also patrolling the warm upper layers of the water feeding on tiny prey. Everyone seemed to be spellbound by the sheer elegance of these animals despite their size and it remains to this day the best view I have ever had of these magnificent sharks. This was a sight that I am sure will stay with all who were there for many years to come.

3) A wild deer chase.
On a family holiday to Exmoor we all harboured hopes of seeing the Red Deer for which the region is famous for. This was to prove easier said than done however as despite reassurance from the locals we would see them and taking advice and visiting many of the favoured areas for the species, it looked like our luck was out as we went into the final day of our trip. On one of the final drives it was suggested we stopped for a picture, my brother and I exchanged looks at this suggestion the field behind us looked remarkably similar to the many other ones we had just driven by. Except as we got out the car it became apparent there was one very big difference, our movements startled a group of female Red Deer which until this point had remained perfectly hidden in the long grass, as they broke cover we were able to catch a glimpse of them disappear into further cover but we had finally done it! Ironically that evening we were to go on and see many more Red Deer the highlight being a young male strutting right onto the path in front of us. These encounters left us in no doubt they were certainly magnificent, beautiful and elusive !

4) Secretive but clumsy.
When I think of a Badger words such as secretive, mysterious and shy come to mind what doesn't come to mind however is clumsy but this is the exact trait which betrayed this individuals presence and presented me with still my only sighting of a wild Badger. On an evening stroll in the woods again with my brother, a cracking of branches alerted us to the presence of an animal in the near vicinity. Following the noise and limiting as much as possible our own disturbance, the culprit soon became visible, foraging for food, oblivious to our presence a Badger was happily going about its nights work and doing its best to give the impression that Badgers have a tendency to be a little un coordinated, which actually gives me and the individual in question something in common! It was a unique experience however to be able to watch an animal normally so secretive for such a long period of time and definitely not something to be forgotten in a hurry!


5) Fast Falcon.
The Peregrine Falcon is a bird I have been fortunate enough to see on a few different occasions however every viewing is just as special as the previous one. Much like the Cheetah, this bird captured my imagination with its unique speed, beauty and uncanny gracefulness in which it goes about its daily activities. My ninth Birthday is a viewing which stands out in my mind on a coastal walk, our attention was caught by an individual soaring ever higher into the sky, even from such a distance its power was obvious illustrated through the use of binoculars its stunning colours also became clearer it certainly was a fantastic Birthday present.


Amazing animal behaviour.

1) In western USA during late summer, pairs of Coyotes will hunt co-operatively with Sandhill Cranes in freshly cut hay fields. The Sandhill Crane benefits by feeding on grasshoppers flushed out by the Coyotes while the canine predators carefully watch out for rodents such as voles making a break for safety under the Cranes feet.
Source BBC Wildlife July 2013.

2) It has been discovered that Crocodiles swallow large stones which remain a permanent feature of their stomach contents. It has been suggested the reason for this behaviour are so they can be used for ballast whilst diving.
http://www.livescience.com/11346-10-amazing-animals.html

3) Bower birds are amazing Sir David Attenborough explains this stunning behaviour far better than I can ever dream of writing about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPbWJPsBPdA

4) Prairie Dogs have different alarm calls to warn each other of different predators including Coyotes, Hawks, Humans and Dogs. Their calls even contain detailed descriptions of the threat for example the body size of the human and the colour of their clothes.

5) Orcas are highly intelligent, efficient predators this footage shows the ingenious hunting techniques they have developed and perfected over a period of time  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPge_0lea3o .

Trails and Tails Travel


Looking for a truly wild and wonderful adventure? want to see some natures most amazing natural creations ? Trails and Tails Travel offers a wide range of once in a lifetime opportunity to visit some of the most amazing locations on the planet run by Nicole and Matthew, you can loo at their website by following this link http://www.trailsandtailstravel.com/ you can also connect with them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/george.wykes?ref=tn_tnmn#!/TrailsAndTailsTravel?fref=ts.

Twitter

You can follow me on Twitter @ReallyWildWykes where I will be posting regular sources of wildlife news, images and of course my blog updates direct to my Twitter account.
That is all for now everyone thank you for reading and all the best,
George.