Reptile Refuge.

Reptiles like young grass snakes and small lizards need to find safe hiding places if they want to avoid being eaten by predators. But where would they hide?

This small grass snake has found a hiding place in the bark of a tree trunk
Good Hiding Place.

 

This lizard hasn’t found the safest of places to hide – it’s tail can still be seen!
Not The Best Hiding Place.

Lizards have a trick though. They can delibarately lose their tail to avoid getting caught by a predator. Amazingly the tail will grow back again.

The Lizard below has lost it’s tail.
Tailless.

A lost tail will start to grow back.
New Tail.

Fence posts make great hiding places, good for basking in the sun and the cracks in the wood make quick hiding places.
I Can See You.

All the above images taken at Woodwalton Fen nature reserve.

 

Posted in Nature Reserve, Reptiles And Amphibians, The Great Fen | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rothchild’s Sunflower.

‘Rothchild’s sunflower’ was originally planted to re-introduce Large Copper butterflies to the Woodwalton Fen nature reserve. Unfortunately Large Copper butterflies didn’t return but Bee’s and other insects are attracted to the large yellow flowers .

Bee On A 'Rothchilds Sunflower'.

The reserve was onced owned by Charles Rothchild hence the name ‘Rothchild’s Sunflower’ It is rumoured that Charles Rothchild himself planted these flowers.

Bee On A 'Rothchilds Sunflower'.

The plant is actually called Heartleaf Oxeye and it flowers for a couple of weeks during the summer.

Rothchild's Sunflower.

Heartleaf Oxeye is a perennial herb that is part of the Daisy family. It grows to a height of 60-200cm and flowers in July and August. It certainly adds a burst of colour to the nature reserve.

Starting To Open.

Posted in Insect, Nature Reserve, The Great Fen, Wildflower | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Trio Of Orchids.

There is a nature reserve in Cambridgeshire called Woodwalton Marsh. Basically it’s a small field next to the east coast mainline and is maintained by the local Wildlife Trust. Most people visit to to look for Grizzled Skipper butterflies but there is more to this field than meets the eye. Amoungst the wild grass and flowers my favourite wildlflower can be found – the Bee Orchid. These orchids can be seen every year although this year there didn’t seem to as many as usual. While I was looking for a Bee Orchid I discovered a Pyramidal Orchid and a Common Spotted Orchid all within a few metres of each other -amazing what you can find when you start looking!

Bee Orchid.

Bee Orchid.

Pyramidal Orchid.

Pyramidal Orchid.

Common Spotted Orchid.

Common Spotted Orchid.

Posted in Nature Reserve, Wildflower | Tagged | Leave a comment

I Spied A Spider.

Summer is a good time for photographing spiders. Spiders aren’t too nervous so if you’re careful you should be able to get close enough to get some great closeup shots.  Below are photographs of some of the spiders found at Woodwalton Fen at the moment.

 Nursery Web Spider.
 In the summer you will find this spider sunbathing on leaves. These spiders use strength and speed to catch their prey rather construct a web.  The female carries her eggs in a ball shaped egg sack, just before the baby spiders hatch she builds an enclosed silk web and put’s them inside for protection. I will be posting a photograph of a Nursery Web spider with an egg sack in a later post.

Nursery Web Spider.

 

Common Fox Spider
This spider does not spin a web instead it waits to ambush it’s prey. I watched this spider catch the fly it’s eating in this photograph. Once it decided to pounce it moved at lightening fast speed.

Common Fox Spider.

 

Crab Spider
A strange looking spider when seen from the front, this is another ambush predator that doesn’t spin a web either.

Crab Spider.

 

Long-Jawed Orb Weaver Spider
There are loads of these spiders around at the moment. They are easy to identify due to their long legs. They catch their prey by spinning webs.

Long-Jawed Orb Weaver Spider.

Posted in Insect, Nature Reserve, The Great Fen | Tagged | Leave a comment

Chinese Project.

I have an ongoing project to photograph and film Chinese Water Deer. They’re not easy animals to photograph, they generally spend the day in a reedbed coming out to feed in the early evening just when the light is fading. You can sometimes grab a shot during the day if you are lucky.  They have excellent hearing, if they hear the shutter of your camera fire they will run for the reeds.  If you are completely still they don’t seem to notice you but they are very sensitive to movement. There is a healthy population of Chinese Water Deer at my nearest nature reserve – Woodwalton Fen in Cambridgeshire. I have a lot of photographs of these deer so I have started to try and capture them on video.

Chinese Water Deer.

Unlike ‘traditional’ deer they don’t have antlers, instead they have tusk-like teeth that protrude from their mouth

What Big Tusks You Have.

A male Water Deer photographed at Woodwalton Fen

I will post regular updates on my Chinese Water Deer project, so come back and have a look to see how I’m getting on.

Posted in Mammal, Nature Reserve, The Great Fen | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mink Menace.

I went to Woodwalton Fen nature reserve for an evening walk. Right by the entrance I came across this Mink. It didn’t run away straight away, we stood staring at each other for a while which gave me the chance to get a couple of photo’s.

Mink.

I must admit I’m not a lover of Mink due to the damage they can cause to our native wildlife. A Mink will prey on small mammals, birds and fish so can be a real menace. They are actually American mink that escaped from fur farms and have bred. Mink prefer to live by water so Woodwalton Fen is an ideal habitat for them. There is a European species of Mink but we’ve never had these in Britain.

Mink.

I believe Natural England who maintain Woodwalton Fen will check for signs of Mink and trap them. Typically a Mink raft is used to capture these mammals.

It looks like this Mink has got a serious infestation of ticks!

Posted in Mammal, Nature Reserve, The Great Fen | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Went To A Coronation.

Had an afternoon out at Upwood meadows in Cambridgeshire. The meadows are one of sixty meadows across the country that have been designated as a ‘Coronation Meadow’.

Upwood Meadows

This is a project led by the Prince Of Wales that will take seed and green hay to recreate new meadows. Meadow habitats have decreased by 97% in the UK since the 1930’s so this is an important project.

Upwood Meadows Buttercups_1

Upwood meadows are awash with wild flowers during the spring and summer. There are also three ponds but one has dried out completely and the water levels on the other two are extremely low – just shows how little rain we get in Cambridgeshire.

Upwood Meadows Buttercups_3

After a walk around meadows taking a few photographs me and my wife settled under the shade of a tree for a dose.

Some Of The Wildlife At Upwood Meadows

Common Blue Buttefly.

Common Blue butterfly

 

Specked Brown Butterfly.

Speckled Brown Butterfly

 

Cardinal Bettle

Cardinal Beetle

If you want to visit the meadows yourself click on the link below for more information:-                                                                                                                                 Upwood meadows

 

Posted in Insect, Nature Reserve | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment