Mark Hows - 2024 Wildlife Blog

Me
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 Plants and fungi 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.
 

February

Saturday 3rd - Warks Waterfowl

Ferruginous duck

I was off the Birmingham, but I made a stop on the way up at Warwick racecourse where the long staying Ferruginous duck was showing well. One the way home I stopped in at Draycote water. The divers were all the far side of the reservoir, probably due to boats and windsurfers but I managed to pick out the Black throated diver from the Great Northerns. Some little grebes were much more obliging feeding close in.


Friday 2nd - Where Eagles Dare

White Tailed Eagle

I had a busy Friday but had a couple of hours first thing free, so I headed to Stowlangtoft in search of the White tailed Eagles but there was no sign. I had more success at Mickel Mere where one was harassing the wildfowl, showing nicely.


 

January

Wednesday 31st - Little Reserve Roundup

otter

My reserve spent most of the month flooded so only one moth trapping night and not many visial sightings. The trail cameras did show a nice selection of things, teal are an infrequent visitor, woodcock and an otter the highlights.


Wednesday 31st - Monthly Moths

Oak beauty

Incredibly poor weather allowed two nights trapping one at home the other in my reserve just 7 species the best oak beauty.


Wednesday 31st - Monthly Mammals

Wood Mouse

Plenty of local roe deer and muntjac and bird feeder squirrels, local rabbits and brown hares but the highlight of the moth were the otters in the Brecks. I rescued a wood mouse from the office and released it in my nature reserve.


Saturday 28th - Sensational Somerset

Purple SandpiperCirl BuntingCattle Egret

James Hunter and I headed down to Somerset for the day stopping firstly somewhere I have never been before Portbury Wharf where after a little search we located the Black necked grebe. A short distance away there was a purple sandpiper showing nicely on the rocks. The Kentish plover was significantly harder to find at Burnham on Sea. There were Dunlin and a few larger waders but no plovers. Eventually on Steer island we found some plovers and the Kentish plover was with them. A short distance but a little bit of a drive was Stolford where along the coast path were some Cirl buntings and they showed quite nicely off an on depending on the amount of dog walkers passing. Job done on the coast we headed into the levels where we had a large flock of cattle egrets. We headed to Ham wall for a wander and then onto Shapwick heath. There was a large number of waterfowl and of note was the number of pintail really impressive. The marsh harriers spooked them periodically and it was impressive when they took flight. We joined the assembled crowd to see the starling roost, there was not much of a murmuration but the roost was quite impressive and a nice finish to the day.

Chips - Star Chips Street - Sausage, Chips, Pea fritter - 7.5/10


Friday 27th - Windy Norfolk

OtterLong Tailed DuckRoe Deer

The very strong winds overnight almost dissuaded me from getting up but I dragged myself up and headed to the Brecks. It was not long before I encountered an otter along the river and shortly after its mother turned up. The showed nicely for a while before disappearing. With no further sign I checked the wood but is was very windy and the small birds were very mobile. Spring snowflakes were flowering but little else. I had no plan where to go next but opted for Snettisham. It was very windy and the snow buntings were nowhere to be found. I spotted the long tailed duck at the far end of one of the pits but as I walked down it was nowhere to be seen. I tried the next pit where the black throated diver had been seen but it was nowhere to be found. I headed back and found the long tailed duck and had some nice views. The snow buntings flew over and headed down the beach. I headed for some chips then stopped in at Welney to see some tree sparrows as I had missed them at the Ouse washes a few weeks ago. Whooper swans, cattle egrets, roe deer were in the fields close by and I finished the day with a barn owl.

Chips - Magdalen Fish and Chips, Magdalen - Battered Burger, Chips, Onion rings - 6.5/10


Saturday 14th - Another case of Thrush

Northern Waterthrush

Mid morning I rocked up at the ditch in Maldon, 60 or so birders were already present waiting for the Northern waterthrush that had only shown very briefly earlier. About an hour later it dropped in the ditch feeding and showing very well for about 5 mins until a rather upset local sounded his car horn for a long period and it flew off. I chatted to a few other birders for 10mins or so before heading home with much better views than my previous visit.


Saturday 13th - Local Lovelies

Smew Short eared Owl

James Hunter was dropping his lad in Cambridge so it was an ideal opportunity to meet up and do some local birding. First stop was St Ives where 3 Smew had regularly been. This had been supplemented with another drake on our visit, plenty of goldeneye as well. Next we headed into the Fens and managed to track down 20 or so cranes along with some roe deer, Chinese water deer and a large numbers of Bewick’s and whooper swans. Welney was a long detour due to flooding so we tried Ouse Washes for Tree Sparrow but none put in an appearance. We finished the day at Eldernell which held an incredible amount of water almost up to the tawny Owl hole. It was strange seeing moorhens swimming past the roosting Tawny owl. Three long eared Owls and Three were present the latter flushed by some idiotic birders going right up to the hedge! A nice starling murmuration finished of the rather pleasant day.


Friday 5th - Maldon Mega

Waxwing

It was a cold morning waiting in a Essex industrial estate for a Northern Waterthrush to arrive in a ditch, which it didn’t. the crowd thinned out and eventually around lunch time the Northern waterthrush was spotted in the scrubby reedbed, very difficult to see but showed in occasionally in the gaps between vegetation. Mid afternoon I had had enough views and headed off to Colchester where a flock of 20 waxwings was showing very well. Time for some Chips before heading home.

Chips – Riverside, Manningtree – Battered Saveloy, Onion Rings and Chips – 8/10


Monday 1st - Lots in Lincs

Barn Owl Lesser Yellowlegs

I got to Frampton Marsh for dawn, no sign of the Lesser yellowlegs, I had a wander round the reserve, whooper swans were just starting to leave for the day. The highlights were the ducks pintail, Goldeneye and scaup. I had to leave for a few hours but returned briefly mid afternoon when theLesser yellowlegs was showing very nicely by the car park until some numpty tried to get too close and flushed it. I headed to Willow Tree Fen for the last couple of hours of light. It was pretty cold but there was plenty to see, Barn Owl, Short eared owl, cattle egrets and common cranes feeding and to roost about 20 Marsh harriers and a single hen harrier. A constant trickle of goosander came into roost must have been almost 100 in total and whooper swans started to arrive as I left.

Chips – Golden Fryer, Kirton – Battered Sausage and Chips – 8/10


 

2023 Review

Mammals

Common Dolphin

A very quiet year as I concentrated on other taxa. Some nice encounters the garden Badgers but generally a year that I did not put in a lot of effort for mammals only seeing 32 species, highlights were mole, Risso's dolphin and the Cambridgeshire Common dolphins.

Birds

Red Footed Booby

A good year birdwise with 221 species seen. Some highlights were Little crake, Stejneger's Scoter, waxwing, Two barred warbler, to name a few. I caught up with seven new species Grey headed lapwing, Black winged kite, Red footed booby, Magnolia warbler, Canada warbler, Red headed Bunting and Canvasback.

Other Wildlife and Trips

Netted Carpet Perennial Centaury Tiger

Following up on my other areas of interest I had a great year with a new Shieldbug Sand-runner Shieldbug. Ladybird wise a day with half a dozen Ant's nest ladybirds was pretty special. I had a cracking moth year trapping at home and work regularly as well as regular mobile trapping in the Brecks (including a couple of new sites) and at Chippenham Fen. I also did some mobile trapping further a field in Scotland a couple of times. Trapped many sites with James Hunter and Alan Lewis and was assisted by several local mothers and their help was most appreciated. Some super moths included Pine tree lappet, Silver cloud, Netted mountain moth, Dentated pug, Pretty pinion, Birght wave, White Colon, Netted carpet, Bordered grey, Ground Lackey, Crescent striped, Rush wainscot, Rose Plume and many more. I did not get close to my 50 new moths target so that was a little disappointing.

My 25 new plant project went well I managed 36 and did see some excellent ones Perennial Centaury, Touch Me No Balsam, Close headed alpine sedge, Bristle sedge, Fen club rush and many more and I will try a similar target again this year. The highlight was to finally see Holly Leaved Naiad.

Trip wise another trip to India was scheduled as we missed Tiger on the previous one. Other trips were to Crete, Bulgaria, Romania and Italy. Highlights were Tiger, Four Horned Antelope, Dhole, Roach's mouse-tailed dormouse, Romanian Hamster, Forest Dormouse, Cretan Goat.


Catch up with the 2023 blog

 
 
 
 

2024 Targets

Green when Seen

  • Weather Earthstar
  • Elegant Earthstar
  • Boat Bug
  • Pipewort
  • Marsh Carpet
  • Nit Grass
  • Scarce tortoise sheldbug
  • Greater Streaked shieldbug
  • Silurian
  • Whortle-leaved Willow
  • Blue Heath
  • Leafy Rush
  • Mat leaved fescue
  • Glaucous Meadow-grass
  • Alpine Woodsia
  • Alpine Bearberry
  • Spiral tasselweed
  • Concolorous
  • Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth
  • Sloe Carpet
  • Wish List

    Green when Seen

  • Ladybird Spider
  • Iceland Purslane
  • Heather Shieldbug
  • Triangular Club-rush
  • 13 Spot Ladybird
  • Bee Beetle
  • Blue Heath
  • Alpine bearberry
  • New Forest Bladder wort
  • Marsh moth
  • Manchester treble bar
  • Dusky hooktip
  • Least Adders Tongue
  • Dune spurge bug
  • Southern sickle bearing cricket
  • Starwort Mouse-ear
  • Small Dark Yellow Underwing
  • Silurian
  • Speckled footman
  • 2024 UK Mammal List (No Target This Year)

    Green when photographed

  • 1 - Wood Mouse
  • 2 - Roe Deer
  • 3 - Brown hare
  • 4 - Otter
  • 5 - Chinese Water Deer
  • 6 - Muntjac
  • 7 - Grey Squirrel
  • UK Birds

  • 494 - Asian Desert Warbler
  • 495 - Lammergeier
  • 496 - Tennessee Warbler
  • 497 - Whites Thrush
  • 498 - Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler
  • 499 - Lanceolated warbler
  • 500 - Siberian Thrush
  • 501 - Taiga Flycatcher
  • 502 - Rufous-tailed scrub robin
  • 503 - Crag Martin
  • 504 - Northern Mockingbird
  • 505 - Red Necked Stint
  • 506 - Black Browed Albatross
  • 507 - Green Warbler
  • 508 - Long Toed Stint
  • 509 - Two barred Warbler
  • 510 - Belted Kingfisher
  • 511 - Eleanora’s falcon
  • 512 - Cape gull
  • 513 - Common Nighthawk
  • 514 - Stejneger's Scoter
  • 515 - Grey Headed Lapwing
  • 516 - Black Winged Kite
  • 517 - Red Footed Booby
  • 518 - Magnolia Warbler
  • 519 - Canada Warbler
  • 520 - Red headed Bunting
  • 521 - Canvasback
  • 522 - Northern Waterthrush
  • 25 New Plant Species Photo Project



  • 1 -

  • 25 New Moth Species Photo Project


  • 1 -



  • The Chip Count

    Chips 4
    Fish
    Fishcake
    Battered / Sausage 2
    Saveloy 1
    Spring Roll
    Pickled Egg
    Cheese and Onion Fritter
    Mushy Peas / Fritter 1
    Spam Fritter
    Haggis
    Mac n Cheese bites
    Pizza
    Parmo
    Burger 1
    John Bull
    Onion Rings 2
    Ice Cream

    2023 Total
    Chips 18
    Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites