Mark Hows - 2019 Wildlife Blog

Welcome to my wildlife blog - I will chronicle my exploits looking for wildlife in the UK and post links to trip reports from further afield. I have plenty of target species this year from Wildflowers to Ladybirds and plenty of things in between and tracking these down will keep me busy. I will be doing plenty of mammal watching and there will be some twitching in the mix as well which should keep me out of trouble - hopefully! and all this will be fuelled by lots of Chips and Ice Cream.


Monday 11th - Stevenston Smasher

Ivory Gull Ivory Gull

Finally finished my weekend working so have more time for wildlife and I started by driving overnight to Scotland, after a brief nap, I found myself at Loch where a nice redhead smew was present but the ducks were nervy and with no cover along the Loch the chance for photos was minimal so I headed off to Troon. Here was a nice selection of pipits showing nicely apart from the water pipit. Eventually I located it and in between the dog walkers, and other beachgoers I managed a couple of photos. I headed off to the main event the release of the Ivory gull. About 100 people had congregated at Stevenston Point for the release of the recuperated adult Ivory gull. It hopped out of the box onto the grass before flying round then flew into the bay. The resident gulls gave it a bit of a hard time and we got some more flyby views before things settled down and it preened in the bay until I left.

Angel Lane Chippy, Penrith - Haggis, Chips 8/10

Saturday 5th - Bleak Brecks


I took a pre work walk for an hour or so in the Brecks, the weather was poor and the only thing of note was a hawfinch.

Sunday 3rd - Breckland Butcher


I spent the morning at Santon Downham, here a rather nice Great Grey Shrike was present but I first took a wander and manged to locate a lesser spotted woodpecker and several water rails. Mandarins were of note but not much else so I headed for the Shrike which showed very nicely just north of the railway. I spotted some annual knawel plants on the walk back to the car so will need to pop back when it is in flower. I went home via Bury St Edmunds where the small group of waxwings showed nicely, however urban birding always has its issues and there were some complete tossers clearly not happy at the presence of 4 birders.

Chips - Codfather, Bury St Edmunds - Spring Roll, chips 7/10



Leafy Goosefoot - Semi Discovery in Kent

Kent Botany 2018

I am very lucky to have my joint discovery of Leafy Goosefoot described in this report and it features on the cover (not my photo). I was given the site for another plant dwarf mallow which I was keen to see, duly found I bumped into a goosefoot which I could not ID, I thought it was possibly Strawberry Blight (a similar goosefoot species). Dave visited the site and corrected the identity. Many Thanks to Dave for sorting the ID and submitting the record.

Tuesday 28th - Breckland Bust


I managed a couple of hours before work in the Brecks but although a lovely morning but I had no luck with the Shrike or any otters and only the briefest view of a lesser spotted woodpecker. But a kingfisher, bullfinch, brambling, water rail and thousands of siskin of note.

Friday 18th - Crazy for Cranes

Whooper Swan

I am working pretty much every day in January so when pretty much all of Cambridgeshire's Crane population was spotted together I finished work early and headed over to Manea. On arrival 42 cranes were visible and a fly over of another 4 made 46. I think a couple more have been counted in subsequent days but still 46 was pretty amazing to see. I stopped to see a flock of whooper swans and managed to locate one Bewick's as well. I finished the day at Burwell, no owls were present abut 16 roe deer and the common bird species.

Burwell Chip Shop, Burwell - Battered Sausage, Chips 7/10

Saturday 12th - Lincolnshire Lows

Golden Plover

I headed to Huttoft Bank for the Dusky Warbler, a barn owl and three roe deer of note on the journey up. I was first on site but a handful of people joined me in the search. After about an hour it was located. It showed briefly a few times and was always moving keeping low in the ditch sheltering from the strong winds and no chance of a photo. We followed it up the ditch but lost it and I did not see it again, despite the bird news messages it never showed well. I headed for Kirkby on Bain but the assembled birders could not find the American wigeon, probably sleeping somewhere out of view. I finished the day at Frampton Marsh nothing of note but the golden plover roost was excellent but the day felt a little flat, at least the chips had improved.

Sutterton Fish and Chip Shop, Sutterton - Battered Sausage, pea fritter, Chips 8/10

Many Thanks

Llangollen Whitebeam

I have always been interested in all wildlife but have historically concentrated on mammals, birds, butterflies and dragonflies in the main, but over the last few years I have diversified into different taxa. I started with ladybirds, bumblebees, whitebeams and a few families of plants and latterly continued into more plants, fungi and other insect groups. Starting from a low base is quite difficult but many people have helped me with information and guidance and identification. I am not going to name people here they know who they are but I just wanted to thank all the people who have helped and continue to help me.

Sunday 6th - Super Stoat


I was working today, good job it was quiet at work and I could take it easy as I was still not well. I went out to the car around lunch time to get my lunch and saw the resident stoat. I grabbed the camera and followed him and got a few decent views before he eventually gave me the slip. But I am always pleased to catch up with them.

Field Guide to Ladybirds of Great Britain and Ireland


Just before Christmas I got the eagerly awaited "Field Guide to Ladybirds of Great Britain and Ireland" from Helen Roy and Peter Brown, and nicely illustrated by Richard Lewington. We have been waiting for a propper field guide to ladybirds for ages particularly for the 25 or so cryptic species which cause us such headaches identifying them. The cryptic species until now only had scientific names but we have some names for them and some are very similar to our local names but a few we were well off the now official names. The book is good I would have liked a little more on how to separate some of the similar looking cryptic species and I think the life size pictures are actually too small. Also as with books it is going out of date one species mentioned briefly in the back I have seen and there are loads of records going back a couple of years so this species could have really made the full species section. 8/10 and much better than anything else available.

Saturday 5th - Sick in Norfolk

Tiny Earthstar White Headed Duck

I was up early, but halfway to the North Norfolk coast I had to stop for some sleep. I have been ill for days and hardly slept and was struggling. The trip was eventful, fallow deer and muntjac, barn owl and a brown rat in a layby. I eventually made it to Burnham Overy dunes, a brown hare crossed the track on the walk down but I was here to look for dwarf and tiny earth stars which I did find along with another unidentified earthstar. Plenty of geese were present White fronts, Barnacle, Brent, Egyptian, Pink foot and greylag. I made it back to the car and for a well-earned rest along with a selection of medicines. Next I headed to Wells but stopped along the way for some Bar headed geese which were rather unexpected. Wells had a distant male hen harrier a glaucous gull and a guillemot resting on the shore in the harbour. I headed to Burnham Market for the first chips of the year but was very disappointed they were terrible. I was still feeling terrible so headed for home rather than Titchwell as was my original plan. I stopped for a break and saw the message about the white headed duck not too far from home so went via there for a quick look before heading for my bed.

Chips - Mermaid, Burnham Market - Spring Roll, chips, mushy peas 3/10

Tuesday 1st - Lucky Lincs

Martin's Ramping fumitory

I managed to get up from my sick bed for a couple of hours to visit south Lincolnshire to see Martin's Ramping fumitory a rather rare plant. It was the first of this years project to photograph 100 new plants Keep an eye on progress on the sidebar. I also found a couple of earthstars, one unidentifiable the other probably striated.

No Chips on New Years Day they always seem to close up.


2018 Review



Another great mammal year with some amazing encounters particularly with two new UK mammals Orca that were amazing and the long staying Beluga totally unexpected. Brilliant Edible dormice, a Leisler's bat were worth mentioning and my second Bearded seal was also very nice to see. Probably the A total of 50 species in total (48 photographed) which makes the 11th year in a row exceeding 50 species, I won't try for 50 this year as I think I have demonstrated that 50 species in a year is now easily acheivable, but I will keep a list.


Grey Carbird

A poor bird year with only 203 species seen, as I focussed on other taxa. Some highlights were ptarmigan, white winged scoter and pomarine to name a few. New species were a bit thin on the ground and I only caught up with Grey Catbird, Moltoni's Warbler, Stejneger's stonechat, I must do better but work kept getting in the way of twitches.

Other Wildlife and Trips

Leafy Goosefoot Scymnus nigrinus

Following up on my other areas of interest I had a great year with some nice new Ladybirds the highlights were False spotted and Black scymnus, other highights were a Oleander hawkmoth, thrift clearwing, Beautiful Marbled and tree cricket I finally got my last Whitebeam the localised Llangollen Whitebeam. Several broomrapes and a whole selection of nice plants and a few rares such as Shetland Mouse ear, ox tongue broomrape, sand catchfly, sulphur Clover, Greater Broomrape, Deptford Pink, South Stack Fleawort, leafy goosefoot. I also caught up with some cool fungi, white cage fungus the pick. Trip wise it was busy with two weeks in Sri Lanka and Dubai where we had over 280 species of birds and 70 species of mammals, including some crackers like red slender loris and Bryde's Whale. A trip to Israel was eventful and we caught up with the uber rare Persian Fallow Deer. A week in Scotland mainly Shetland for local specialities such as Orca, oysterplant, Shetland mouse ear. I also joined the Dutch Mammal Group for a trip to Romania where Romanian hamster was the highlight.

Catch up with the 2018 blog


Upcoming Trips

  • Louisiana - March 2019
  • Sicily - April 2019
  • South Africa - November 2019
  • My Flickr Photos


    2019 Targets

  • Orange Tailed Clearwing
  • White Legged Clearwing
  • Welsh Clearwing
  • Schmidts Scymnus Ladybird
  • Wartbiter
  • Horseshoe Ladybird
  • One flowered wintergreen
  • Perennial knawl
  • Dodder
  • Wild Tulip
  • Weather Earthstar
  • Elegant Earthstar
  • Spotted Rock Rose
  • Somerset Skullcap
  • Ground Pine
  • Spiked Rampion
  • Yarrow Broomrape
  • Thyme Broomrape
  • Field Gentian
  • Sand Crocus
  • Wish List

  • Ladybird Spider
  • Snowdon Lily
  • Arctic Sandwort
  • Red cage Fungus
  • Norwegian Mugwort
  • Iceland Purslane
  • Birds Nest Fungus
  • Tufted Saxifrage
  • 2019 UK Mammal List (No Target This Year)

    Green when photographed

  • 1 - Fallow Deer
  • 2 - Muntjac
  • 3 - Brown Rat
  • 4 - Brown Hare
  • 5 - Stoat
  • 6 - Roe Deer
  • 7 - Red Fox
  • 100 New Plant Species Photo Project

    100 New Plants Gallery

  • 1 - Martin's Ramping Fumitory
  • 2 - Spring Snowflake
  • 3 - Stinking Hellebore

  • 2019 Bird Race

    No Particular Order

  • 1 - ??

  • The Chip Count

    Chips 5
    Chip Butty
    Fish Cake
    Battered / Sausage 2
    Battered / Burger
    Spring Roll 2
    Pickled Egg
    Cheese and Onion Fritter
    Mushy Peas / Fritter 2
    Spam Fritter
    Haggis 1
    Macaroni Pie
    King Rib
    Onion Rings
    Ice Cream

    2018 Total
    Chips 35
    Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites