June 2017

30 Days Wild: Day 30 Feeding the Birds

Unfortunately, it was wet and miserable once I had returned from work, however I was able to sit in my car and watch a pretty tame goldfinch eating from our feeders. I can remember a few years ago, wishing that we could have these colourful birds visiting us: now we do! We've put out food for our hedgehog and set up the trail camera. Thankfully the rain has stopped.

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Moody Sky

30 Days Wild: Day 29: Looking for Badgers

Our lovely hedgehog visited again last night. He/she seemed quite at home!

Please click here to see our hedgehog


We popped over to our lakes to set up our camera - fingers crossed that we capture something!

30 Days Wild: Day 28: Our Hedgehog

We put our wildlife camera out and were pleased to see that our hedgehog spent a lot of time foraging in our garden for mealworms. We were pondering on what to call our visitor - but were not sure whether it was a chunky male, or perhaps a pregnant female. Hoglets, also known as Urchins, are born in June or July - so our fingers are crossed!


Please click here to see our hedgehog scratching and shaking!

30 Days Wild: Day 27: No badgers!

Sad to say our wildlife camera did not pick up much last night except for this:


Please click here to see the only wildlife we saw last night!



Tonight we will be putting out peanuts and mealworms for our hedgehog.

30 Days Wild: Day 26: Wildlife Trail Camera

Once again it was lovely to see our hedgehog roaming our garden!


Click here to see our garden hedgehog



We popped out to set up our camera in a more wild location … fingers crossed!

30 Days Wild: Day 25: Purple Hairstreak

Although I have just returned home drenched to the skin, I have just had one of the loveliest woodland walks I have had for quite some time. We started off walking down one of the rides with rainclouds hot on our heels. As the first specks of rain fell, we took cover off the main track down a deer trail. There sheltered from the rain, we had a picnic; we listened to the rain pattering on the leaves and the alarm call of a blackbird spooked by a buzzard which landed above our heads. At this point I had given up hope of any photos because of the grey clouds, breeze and rain. However, as we made our way through the woods, the bad weather cleared up and we found white admirals, silver-washed fritillaries and, the highlight of my day, Dave spotted a small butterfly down close to the path - it was a purple hairstreak (the closest I've ever been to one)!

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Purple Hairstreak


In high spirits, we decided to explore further and after stomping down stinging nettles, ducking under brambles and walking through dense leaf-litter - we ended up at a dead-end! However after retracing our steps and exploring further, we found a great corner with plenty of purple emperor flying in the canopy and landing on the path. Once again we set off and found ourselves walking down unfamiliar trails until we decided to head back to the car. And that is when the heavy drizzle began!

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Silver-washed Fritillary



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White Admiral




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Purple Emperor

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Burnet Moth

30 Days Wild: Day 24 Butterflies

Although it was overcast (so not so good fro photographs!), we popped over to Fermyn for a short stroll. Several purple Emperors flitted above our heads, refusing to land for very long. We were surprised about the number of ringlets we saw along the rides, and were incredibly happy to catch our first glimpse of a marbled white and silver-washed fritillary. We will be returning tomorrow with hopefully more time to spare and some sunshine!


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Purple Emperor

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Ringlet

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Small Tortoiseshell

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Silver-washed Fritillary

30 Days Wild: Day 23 Feeding the Birds

Daily, we are putting food out for the birds. In the back garden, starlings and the occasional blue tit visit most often, whilst in the front garden we see more sparrows, goldfinch, pigeons and sometimes even a jackdaw; we even had a rook on our feeder!


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30 Days Wild: Day 22 Cool Walk

Walking by the River Nene, after all the recent hot weather, was lovely this evening. We did not see too much, but spent a pleasant time sitting by the lake watching the pond skaters and listening to the sedge warblers.


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We also saw our garden hedgehog on our camera last night :)

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30 Days Wild: Day 21 Hedgehog!

I am so happy with my new 'toy' - a wildlife trail camera. We set it up last night in the back garden. I wasn't expecting to see anything apart from maybe a cat so I was over the moon to see this visitor to our garden. We'll be putting out dog food tonight!

Click here to see our garden visitor…

30 Days Wild: Day 20 Frogs!

Our pond was alive with little frogs hopping around this evening - it looks like all the tadpoles have finally grown up!


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We then popped over Fermyn for a brisk walk in the cooler evening air. We saw plenty of red admiral and this cute orange ladybird which landed on Dave's arm.

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30 Days Wild: Day 19: Bees

What a hot day! I spent some time watching the bumble bees on the lavender at the front of my house.




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30 Days Wild: Day 18: Purple Emperor

We were up early - I was adamant I wanted to get the first photo of a Purple Emperor this year, and by 7:45 , we were already at the log pile, where we had spotted the lizard yesterday. With temperatures already rising, we scanned the rides, paths and tree canopy - to no avail! We did see: ringlets, skippers, small tortoiseshell, commas and red admiral.


Disappointed, we began our stroll back to the car, when, there on the path in front of us — sitting on a pile of poo — a PURPLE EMPEROR!

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Purple Emperor

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Purple Emperor Wing


We were so pleased! We also saw, what we think were the same deer, down the same ride. To cap it all off, we saw a white admiral on our return to the car.


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Speckled Wood



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Comma

30 Days Wild: Day 17 Searching for Purple Emperor

After a lovely day in Leicester with my family, we set off to Ferrmyn Woods, to see if the Purple Emperor had emerged yet. We knew it was a little early, but with reports coming in of sightings further South, we decided to take the chance!

Whilst I was taking photos of this high-fiving lizard, one flew by Dave's legs, landed for a few seconds on the path and then disappeared up into the tree canopy. I saw it briefly in the distance — but not well enough for a positive ID. The first one in Northants this year — well done Dave!

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Common Lizard

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Distant deer with her fawn hidden in the grass

30 Days Wild: Day 16 Pond Dip

We've always had a pond in our garden; unfortunately, our last one split. We saved what we could in a large plastic container and earlier this year dug a new one — on a much smaller scale. This evening we spent a pleasant hour pond dipping and were excited to see life flourishing ! We've both decided we want another one — but not just yet! The memory of how much digging was required (in heavy clay) for even a small pond, hasn't quite been forgotten!



Sorry about the quality of the photos; unsurprisingly, my subjects were underwater and I do not have an underwater camera - yet :)



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We're Calling Him George…


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Smooth Newt Larvae

30 Days Wild: Day 15 Hedgehog Home!

So tonight we finished making our hedgehog home from an old recycling box, plastic flowerpots and straw. We added a reasonably large air hole at the back for ventilation and covered it with ivy and grass cuttings. Now we wait and see…


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In Place

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The Finished Home


30 Days Wild: Day 14 Woodpeckers and Terns

Tonight I tried to capture birds in flight. Although we were hoping for an osprey, the terns did not let us down. Forgive the poor picture, but I couldn't believe that at one point this tern was upside down! Glad to say, its hard work paid off!

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Splash Down!

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Emerging From The Water


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Flying Upside Down


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Circling Around

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Success!

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Flying Off Into The Sunset

These great spotted woodpeckers were a little distant — but great to see. They didn't even seem to be trying to fly!



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Great Spotted Woodpeckers





30 Days Wild: Day 13 Relaxing By Elinor Lake

After a long day at work, sitting by Elinor Lake was a perfect way to unwind. We watched trout jumping out of the water; upwards of 500 geese settling in the fields; and common tern splashing into the water.

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Elinor Lake

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Great Crested Grebe

30 Days Wild: Day 12 Peaceful,Evening Stroll

Although quite cloudy, we set off for a peaceful, evening stroll by the riverside. It was lovely to watch the countryside winding down for the day. Terns, however, were still plunging into the water for their supper and swifts were still busy soaring overhead catching bugs. We heard a cuckoo; the explosive calls of several Cetti's warblers; and the possible 'peep' of a kingfisher.



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30 Days Wild: Day 11 Going Macro

I really enjoyed our morning walk over Fermyn Woods with my Macro lens. It's surprising whay you can find if you look closely!

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30 Days Wild: Day 10 Butterflies, Beetles and Wasps

It was great to see the black hairstreak today and meet lots of fabulous, butterfly-loving people from all over the country. Our highlight was witnessing a lovely gentleman seeing his first black hairstreak which completed his quest to photograph every British butterfly!

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Black Hairstreak

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Longhorn Beetle


Thanks to Richard Wright for his identification of this magnificent (and rather large) beetle that flew up to me… "It's the dark form of Stenocorus meridianus Variable Longhorn. The larvae develop in tree stumps and dead roots and that is where eggs would be laid, not on leaves. This one might possibly be feeding on honeydew."

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Black Hairstreak

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Essex Skipper


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Comma

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Black Hairstreak

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Speckled Wood

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Ichneumon Wasp

When I first saw this amazing ichneumon wasp, I thought it was some strange-looking, thin, black bodied damselfly!

30 Days Wild: Day 9 An Evening at Summer Leys

After seeing some fabulous photos on Faceboook of some beautiful fox cubs, we decided to try and see them for ourselves. Unfortunately, we were unlucky on this occasion. However we did have fabulous views of a little egret; a territorial lapwing with chicks; a kestrel swooping by with its prey clutched in its talons; and a little ringed plover also being harassed by the lapwings! It was great to meet some fellow photographers/wildlife watchers, who were much more patient than us!

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Little Egret



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Little Egret

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Little Egret

30 Days Wild: Day 8 Dodging Rain Clouds

We listened to the sound of the wind rushing through the willows; checked out the freshly excavated piles of earth at a badgers sett and marvelled at the number of holes we could see exiting onto a wheat field; heard a cuckoo's call reverberating around the woodland; and enjoyed the fresh gusts of wind reaching us before the rain.

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30 Days Wild: Day 7 Woodland Walk



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Walking down Thrapston Town Walk between fields on our left and the Lake to our right, was reinvigorating. We watched a buzzard being mobbed by a crow, rabbits frolicking in the fields and a huge group of starlings splashing around in a large puddle between the trees. Once again, we watched terns, swifts and sand martins catching bugs over the lake and I even hugged a tree - and I liked it!!


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Rabbit

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Mallard

30 Days Wild: Day 6 Sand Martins, Swifts, Swallows and Sparrowhawks


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Thrapston GP

Dismayed, I watched as heavy rain fell, forming deep puddles in our garden. Luckily, after dinner, there was a break in the weather so we took our chances! We popped to Thrapston GP where we watched sand martins, swallows and swifts wheeling through the air, in a frenzy over the lake. They were so fast; a few swifts swept past inches from our heads — what a display! On our short walk, we also spotted a sparrow hawk and the electric blue of a kingfisher disappearing across Willowbrook Lake.

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Swift

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Sand Martin


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Common Tern


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Swift

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30 Days Wild: Day 5 Nesting Blue Tits

On returning home from work, I spent a pleasant hour watching our blue tits flying backwards and forwards bringing food to their babies and taking away their droppings. I'm pretty sure it was two individuals but with heavy grey clouds, rain and the blue tit(s) moving like bullets, it was really hard to tell! Getting a photo was almost impossible!

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Most of my photos were of air or just a blur, like this one:



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Or this one:

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I will keep trying!!

30 Days Wild: Day 4 Stanwick Lakes for Damselflies

Day 4

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Common Blue Damselfly


For once, we seemed to time the weather perfectly — arriving in the sunshine and leaving just as the rain started. Although a little blustery we soon found ourselves walking in a sheltered, warm ride, teaming with damselflies.

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Blue Tailed Damselfly


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Male Banded Demoiselle

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Female Banded Demoiselle

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Male Scarce Chaser

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Large Skipper

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Cardinal Beetle

A highlight of our visit included sitting on the bridge and by the riverbank, listening to the water flowing by and watching a pair of grey wagtail acrobatically hunting for bugs.

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Grey Wagtail

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Black-headed Gull

30 Days Wild:Day 3 Barnwell Country Park in the Sun

Day 3
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Ashy Mining Bee

Barnwell Country Park is a fabulous place to visit. Although very busy, it is easy to get away from the crowds and find yourself walking through swathes of nettles and cow parsley, alive with bees and damselflies.

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Bee

We spotted this beautiful bunch of fluffy cygnets following their Mum closely. A little further on , we were pleased to see two young Mandarin ducks with the male duck close by ~ no sign of the female however.

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Cygnets

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Juvenile Mandarin

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Red -eyed Damselfly

Sadly, we did not hear or see any kingfishers, but were amazed at the number of red-eyed damselflies we saw from the Kingfisher hide.We also had great views of a variety of butterflies and dragonflies next to the cafe ~ a good opportunity to stop for refreshments; it would be rude not to!

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Brimstone

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Small White

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Scarce Chaser

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Red Kite Eating Lunch

This red kite was a little too far away for my camera, but we watched enthralled as it tore into its prey, before circling the area a few times and then landing in a tree on the opposite side of the river. On closer inspection with our new binoculars, we could see its eye peering out of its nest.

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Four-spotted Chaser

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Mute Swan with Cygnets

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30 Days Wild: Day 2 Fermyn Woods In the Rain

Day 2


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Lyveden New Bield


Even though the forecast was for rain showers, we drove over to Fermyn Woods determined to get out for a woodland walk. After 10 minutes or so sat in the car listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof, we decided to brave the elements and walk on regardless. It wasn't long before the rain cleared up and blue sky poked through the clouds. The sound of rain dripping from the leaves was quite relaxing although the humidity was quite uncomfortable. Soon we had good views of Lyveden New Bield and we were treated to the song of a yellowhammer and a reasonably tame chaffinch.

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We walked on and stood for a while deep in the woods listening to the sounds all around us. A stoat-like animal dashed quickly across the path in front of us and a cuckoo began calling - its song echoing magnificently around the woodland.


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Common Spotted Orchid

On our way back we took an overgrown path which led us out by the fields. There, with wet legs from the tall grass, we spotted a hare which quickly disappeared into the distance ~ a real treat to spot.

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Hare


30 Days Wild: Day 1 Titchmarsh LNR for Cuckoos

Day 1

With cuckoos in mind, we entered Titchmarsh LNR and listened intently; we were soon rewarded by the familiar calls of at least two, echoing throughout the woodland. Before we set off any further, we noticed two mistle thrushes hopping about searching for food — not a bad spot!

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Mistle Thrush

As we crept along the footpath, getting closer to the cuckoos' song, we spotted one sitting proudly in the open, atop a bare branch. Unfortunately it flew off far too quickly for a photograph! We spent a pleasant hour listening to and catching glimpses of at least three cuckoos from a hide overlooking reed-beds. They were very active and well hidden amongst the leaves. This is the best shot I could get:

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Cuckoo

We were also treated to good views of reed buntings taking mouthfuls of bugs to well hidden nests; fleeting views of great spotted woodpeckers; and the explosive call of a Cetti's warbler. As we sat on a bench overlooking two barn owl boxes, a kestrel, hobby and grey heron flew unhurriedly by - no barn owl though!

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Reed Bunting