Tag Archives: Lichfield

Double mustelids

It hasn’t been since the spring that I’ve properly used my trail cameras and got stuck into filming nocturnal wildlife with them. When I got my first trail camera it started off with filming hedgehogs in my garden, which are still visiting, then moved onto filming at a local badger sett. It then progressed to filming anywhere I thought something interesting may be lurking. This has also included otters, foxes, garden birds and so on. My favourite time to film wildlife with my trail cameras though is overnight. Partly because one of my favourite animals is the badger and it’s also fascinating to know what’s about behind the scenes.

After spending the last few years actively filming a badger sett which was quite a way from my local patch, earlier this year in July whilst exploring a woodland on my patch I was delighted to come across some strange mounds of earth and a selection of holes. Badgers! I was so thrilled to find a sett so close to my house, just a ten minute walk in fact! Unfortunately over the summer I’ve spent more time away from home then I have at home so haven’t had many opportunities to spend time setting trail cameras up at the sett or spend time sat there. However now I’m back at school, I have more time to do so.

The time I spent on Thursday evening on my patch was a bit surreal. Now, my patch isn’t the most interesting place in the world. It’s an area of woodland and farmland that is just on the outskirts of the city I live and backs onto a housing estate. Nevertheless it’s my patch and I enjoy spending time there so to find a badgers sett on it was one of the best moments ever! On Thursday night though, I set out with the intention to put my trail camera up quick then get home as it was already getting dark. Instead of walking through the woodland I decided to cut off onto the field which runs along side as visibility was getting very poor. As soon as I scrambled under the barbed wire fence and brushed myself down, a barn owl appeared in the sky above me. Amazing, the first time I’ve seen a barn owl on my patch for quite a while.

By the time I got to the top of the field and made my way into the woodland where the sett is, it was pretty dark. Whilst I glared at the tree trying to work out how I was going to sett my camera up, at the base something moved. A badger. It looked right at me. Two metres away. Our staring competition must of lasted about 30 seconds before it furiously smelt the air. This continued for about 4 minutes before it established it could relax. I stood solid. The animal sniffled around in the overgrowth around the sett then came back into my view. It was that relaxed it decided to have a wee before rolling over to scratch its belly.

This experience lasted about ten minutes before it casually returned down the sett. I continued to stand still for around five minutes, just encase it decided to return back to the surface. It didn’t so I quickly strapped my camera to the tree and trembled down the path whilst trying to be as invisible as possible. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Not until I got home and sat down did I get my heart rate back to normal.

I was up early yesterday morning to collect my camera. On my way to the sett  I spotted a Goldcrest. I don’t see them very often on my patch. Perhaps one of the first autumn visitors. I didn’t see very much on my way though. Not because it wasn’t there but because I was so eager to collect my trail camera. I do remember a Chiffchaff was still calling though!

Once I’d collected my trail camera this continued as I sprinted home, impatient to see what I’d recorded overnight. Even though I knew it would only be badgers, it was still very exciting. Are there more animals around compared to the last time I filmed them? Have I captured some interesting behaviour? What direction were the animals going off in?

Just my luck, the batteries had played up over night and only recorded five 30 second long videos. Still, I impatiently and randomly made my way through the clips. What was that? Polecat! A Polecat, I’d recorded a Polecat! I couldn’t believe it! A Polecat came into the frame, sniffed around then disappeared behind the left-hand side of the camera frame. This is the first time I’ve recorded one on my trail camera and recorded one on my patch. However I did know of them being in the area. In fact they have quite a healthy population. Quite a few times I’ve seen road casualties on nearby roads, plus I know local wildlife trail cammer’ Kate MacRae has also filmed them around her garden.

Why am I so excited to see that polecats are active on my patch though? Well only recently have Polecat populations began to increase which has resulted in them spreading across England, from Wales. North Wales was once the only stronghold of Polecats as up until the 1930s they were persecuted by gamekeepers due to being considered as a pest. So with numbers bouncing back, it’s important to celebrate a success story.

Here’s the video I got.

And a badger.

Triple figures for magic pair

I thought it would only be right to do a follow up blog post after Saturdays peregrine watch at Lichfield Cathedral.

For the best part of a year now I’ve thought about planning some sort of event celebrating these wonderful birds, my favourite bird, which are calling my local city centre their home. After a lot of umming and ahhing, and a few failed attempts of trying to contact people, I finally brought it all together. Someone I asked for advice on how to get it going was a local person, Kate Gomez, who basically just told me to just go ahead and do it!

And I’m really glad I did. My initial thought on why to do it was after watching the birds at the cathedral for the first time last year, and it occurred to me about those that don’t know these birds are here. Just ordinary people walking past the cathedral or through the town and have little idea that these fantastic birds are soaring right over their heads. The worlds fastest animal somehow intertwined into our day to day lives, the least we can do is simply appreciate this!

By 10 o’clock there was a good gathering of about ten to twenty people gazing up onto the cathedral desperately scanning for a bird. Then there one was. The female circling around the base of one of the spires. I let out a sigh of relief but I’m not sure why because I knew these fantastic birds would perform and inspire anyone who came along. As the hour went on, numbers increased until at one point there must have been about forty people spread along The Close with their eyes fixed on the cathedral. Not only this but they were sharing small anecdotes about the pair. This included whether or not they’d seen them before, knew they were here, or wondered what the strange noise was which echoed across the town!

Some were there with lenses as long as my arm getting simply amazing shots, others had their expensive binoculars, others didn’t, and some came who were complete amateurs and wanted to see what it was all about. Also, with us standing in such a public place we had a lot of passers-by and tourists asking what we were looking at. An American tourist I spoke to was fascinated and could not believe his eyes when he watched the male bird fly over.

Everyone’s reactions were very positive, a part from the few who were a bit put off about the headless pigeon the male peregrine brought in! One man told me his friend was walking past the other day and half a pigeon nearly fell on his head! A highlight of the morning had to be when the male, who had been gone for almost an hour, flew in with the headless pigeon. He squawked whilst circling the front of the cathedral a few times then went into the nest. As he did so, we could hear the chicks squabbling inside. It was magical.

Numerous people came up to me and said they’d be back as they loved the experience. They’d been mind blown! Over the two hours we estimated 150 people came and went away with some fantastic views. All of these now having a new understanding of these incredible birds and they’ll hopefully pass this on. Who would of thought, this well known three spired Cathedral would be appreciated and enjoyed for its job mimicking a cliff face to provide these city slickers with a place to breed.

Keep an eye out for the next watch morning date!

A big thank you to The Sound Approach for the scopes too!

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A ‘back of the camera’ image took of an image someone who came to the watch on

Saturday morning took.

Autumnal fun – a fungus foray

At this time of the year there’s no doubt that Autumn is fully under way. Autumn is my favourite season, I always think late August/September time is the least exciting time of the year for wildlife. There’s not as much about so when Autumn approaches and the leaves start to change it’s as though it’s all coming back to life again. In my opinion anyway!

The leaves are changing and walking through my local woodland turns into an artist painting with hundreds of different colours and shades. As well as this, the badgers I film and watch are busy preparing for the winter, which is when they become less active. I normally get some great sights of them at this time and in the past the footage I’ve recorded has been very comical.

Looking to the skies and the feeders in the back garden, everything is very exciting. For example, so far in my garden the number of goldfinches has boomed. Most mornings before going out I look out and spend ten minutes or so watching the dramas as they squabble over the nyger seeds or sunflower hearts. It reminds me a lot from when I was younger, the time when one year we had literally hundreds in the garden at one time. We haven’t had that many for a few years but the sight of them is still so special.

I’ve also been starting to notice flocks of long-tailed tits on my routes, something which I find great as they’re a bird that I don’t often get in my garden.

Over the next few weeks, as the weather gets colder and we head into winter, I’ll also look forward to seeing all the winter migrants. Already I’ve heard people reporting of redwing. I also really look forward to waxwings which I imagine shouldn’t be too long now.

Here in Staffordshire I don’t live far from Cannock Chase which has a very healthy fallow deer population. At this time of the year obviously that only means one thing, rutting! Unfortunately I haven’t seen any behaviour yet this year but I look forward to in the next few weeks. Another Autumnal spectacle.

A big factor of why I decided to write this blog is because of one of my favourite Autumn activities. It consists of looking closer into the leaf litter, or perhaps on the sides of dying trees, and is of course, fungi foraying! At this time of the year when I’m either out on my patch or elsewhere I’m on high alert for nearby toadstools or bracken. My identification skills still aren’t there yet, I have a long way to go, but I enjoy learning about what I see. Not just the name but the fascinating biology behind it.

To expand my knowledge even more, yesterday morning I went on a fungi foray with my local (Lichfield) wildlife group . It took place at a woodland about 5 minutes from where I live so it’s basically one of my local patches. When I was up there just last week I noticed the number of different species I saw and also got a few photos too. However yesterday was good as you can learn so much from other peoples knowledge and so I did!

We were out for about 2 hours and saw a whole host of different fungi. From the common and typical candle snuff and coral to (at least) two different species of ink cap. At different locations you find different types, whether that be due the vegetation in the area, weather or soil type. So every time I go on a fungus foray at another location it’s very interesting to compare what I see. There was a few species that I was looking for yesterday, some of which I saw but others I didn’t, however I did see some that I hadn’t noted before. At this site a really common species was a type of honey fungi and field blewit (which is of course edible).

I didn’t get many photos but here are a few.

fungiWolf’s Milk – Lycogala terrestre

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Contacting your local MP and the Hunting Act amendment

As I stated in my latest blog and you may have heard in the media, the free vote for MPs on the repeal of the Hunting Act is next Wednesday. This has all come very suddenly and is no doubt going to cause a lot of chaos in the next few days. Even though 80% of the public want the ban to stay in place there is that few that want to repeal it. However it’s not the public that will be voting, it’s the MPs therefore as constituents we need to make our voice heard to our MPs and make sure they vote no!

So, contacting your local MP is very important. They may be a tough nut pro-hunter and you may think it won’t work but it’s worth it and you’ve got nothing to loose. Along with this it takes no time at all to simply send an email, letter or maybe even a tweet just to see if they will be voting for or against the repeal. A few weeks back I put together a template letter which is free to use and edit if you wish, find it by clicking here.

Meeting with my local MP

A few weeks back, running up to the general election, I got in touch with all my local candidates about the issues around young people not engaging with the natural world with the blog I did for A Focus on Nature. The Conservative candidate, Michael Fabricant, got back to me and said if he was to be re-elected he would be willing to meet me. He was re-elected and I met with him this morning for an informal meeting in my local city centre. Coincidently the vote to repeal the Hunting Act is in just a few days so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask him about his views. I already knew that he wouldn’t vote to repeal it as he’d stated it on Twitter but I asked him a few questions about his points of view on this matter. What he said was quite positive and great to hear.

The planned topic was actually about the education of nature in primary schools which he was in favour of and I plan to take this further. This issue is very important to me as less children are becoming connected with nature, in fact it’s believed just 1 in 5 are. You can read more about what I’ve said in the past here – https://georgiaswildlifewatch.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/my-visionfornature/

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