"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 18 November 2013

Yet More Local Birding and a Badger Meeting

Apologies for lack of posts recently (and for going to the same place!!) but I'm inundated with (mainly family) commitments at the moment and only getting a few occasional hours to spare - hence the need to keep outings local!

I had a couple of free hours last Friday so I returned again to Marsh Lane NR.

I walked to a different part of the reserve this time - this is the path to River Hide

with lots of holly berries which will hopefully attract a few Winter visitors.

A clump of tiny toadstools on the path

River Hide was by far the largest hide I have visited so far and overlooks Car Park Pool (in the photo below)from one side and Railway Pool from another side.

Water levels are high on the reserve at the moment and most of the islands are submerged.

View towards Railway Pool

All the commoner species spotted on previous visits were seen. The only addition to the reserve bird list was a Song Thrush feasting on berries in the car park and I saw my first rabbit bobbing along a hedgerow.

Badger Meeting

On Thursday evening I went along to the last meeting this year of Warwickshire Badger Group.

Stephen Trotter, CEO of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, gave an excellent talk and presentation on Hedgehogs. Hedgehog numbers are declining rapidly - during the 1950's the estimated population was around 30 million throughout the UK but the number today is believed to be less than 1 million. Recent research shows there has been a national decline of 50% over the last 10 years.

Sadly, the reasons for decline are the same as for so many species - habitat loss (disappearance of hedgerows, field margins and edge habitats), reduction of the quality of habitat due to agricultural intensification and development, fragmentation of habitat due to the building of new roads and fencing in suburban gardens thus isolating populations and possibly leading to local extinction, use of pesticides which means less slugs and snails for hedgehogs and the risk of poisoning and road casualties as a result of increased traffic and road building. Pro-badger cull supporters and a certain Governmental Department have cited badgers as a reason for hedgehog decline but in actual fact these two species have co-existed for centuries without hedgehogs declining and badgers are only likely to play a very minor part in hedgehog decline if other factors are acting to reduce the number of hedgehogs. The badger group's latest newsletter contains photos of a hedgehog feeding alongside 5 badgers and the badgers took absolutely no notice of the hedgehog.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has launched a "Help for Hedgehogs Campaign" to try and protect hedgehogs. There are several steps that can be taken in gardens to help this species - leave "messy" areas for them to nest, make a log pile which could be used for hibernation, make ponds safe so that hedgehogs can climb out if they fall in, check long areas of grass before mowing, check bonfires for hibernating animals, don't use slug pellets, link gardens by creating a small hole at the base of the fence and put out dog or hedgehog food (NOT bread and milk!!!!).

The meeting concluded with an update on the badger slaughters and a charming video of the release of Billy the Badger. The badger cub had been found injured at the side of the road and was taken to a Wildlife Hospital to be treated. The plan was to release him with some other orphaned cubs from another Wildlife Hospital but as Billy had not been tested for bTB by the time of the release this was not possible. Eventually after much searching a sett was found not far from where he had been injured and it was believed this was his home sett. Badgers live in established social groups and are very territorial so poor Billy had to be daubed all over with with bedding, dung and some musk from his home sett before he could be released. He was a very feisty and lively young badger so the video shown was exceedingly amusing. Its to be hoped that he has been accepted back into the sett and the story has a happy ending!

I was really pleased to win a framed photo in the raffle of two of the badgers I watched earlier this year at a local sett and I've been asked if I'd like to take part with some members of the group sett surveying next year which I really am looking forward to.

If anyone is stuck for ideas for their Christmas present list - New Look are selling a really delightful badger jumper :)

The long awaited BTO Bird Atlas arrived in the post on Saturday morning so reading this is going to keep me busy for a while. First impressions are that it is excellent, its well laid-out and just stuffed with information :)


Lou Mary said...

Aw lovely badger jumper, my mum bought me a nice hedgehog jumper the other day :) It is great that you will be able to go out sett monitoring!

Countryside Tales said...

It's looking very autumnal there now. The bird atlas looks great. Hope you are ok re family things? CT x

Ragged Robin said...

Lou Mary Glad you liked the jumper :) I'll look out for the hedgehog one and add it to my bday/cmas list - can't keep on treating myself :)
Yes, can't wait 'til next year :)

Countryside Tales - Autumnal colours finally coming out round here :)

Thanks for asking re: family. Its (mainly) to do with my mum - nursing home visits and looking after her financial and property affairs takes up a lot of time especially as I'm completing an annual report!
Also trying to have a major declutter here at home - been putting if off for months but I really need to get rid of some stuff (I'm afraid I hoard!!!).

Need to get straight here in case I need to sell mother's home to pay for care at any stage and have to clear her house. Believe me its stuffed to the rafters with items and will take MONTHS to go through it all :(

Countryside Tales said...

My sympathies- not an easy time. Thinking of you x

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks so much :) Very kind of you and much appreciated :)

Wendy said...

Marsh Lane looks lovely once again - I love those autumn colours across the water.
Your Badger Group meeting sounded fascinating. It really is obvious why Hedgehogs have declined. Their name says it all - a decline in hedgerows (and other field margins and wildlife corridors) means a decline in hogs! And, as you say, there are also pesticides etc but not badgers!!
Hope the story of Billy the Badger has a happy ending.
And hope all is well at home again soon.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Many thanks for your comment and kind wishes :) The decline in recent decades in so many species is deeply worrying. Warks WLT has started the hedgehog campaign to try and prevent hedgehogs going the same way as water voles (so few of latter now in Warks :( ).

Lou Mary said...

The jumper is from Asda so won't cost the earth - perfect for a Christmas list :) I too hope your home situation improves x

Ragged Robin said...

Lou Mary Thanks so much for your kind words :) Thanks also for info re: jumper - will be wending my way to ASDA in the not too distant future :) Seems to be a lot of nice animal and bird type jumpers about at the moment :)

SeagullSuzie said...

Love the badger jumper. I should get one with a seagull! Trying hard to do my bit for hedgehogs, have a wildlife friendly garden and now a hedgehog house and fence holes-we'll see what happens next year. he bird atlas looks interesting. Sorry to hear of your stress at home-its always difficult to manage so much emotionally too.

David (Wold Ranger) said...

A lovely post as always and equally matched by lovely photos. There seems to be lots of Holly berries this year (at least there are lots in my garden) and it will be interesting to see whether this has any bearing on the coming winter.

Interesting info as regards Badgers and Hedgehogs too :-) Sadly I found two road killed Badgers on Sunday within metres of each other :-(

Em Parkinson said...

That book looks fantastic....on my Christmas list!

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie Many thanks for your kind words :) I think its the extra work of the "annual report" that has made me feel particularly fed up!

I have really enjoyed reading on your blog all the things you are doing for hedgehogs. We've got a log pile and we have some fence panels to replace so I'll ask husband to leave fence holes. We used to have regular hedgehog visits but haven't seen one for years :( Suspect all the high fencing round here is causing problems :(

I'll look out for a seagull jumper for you :)

David (Wold Ranger) Thanks so much :) Lots of berries here of all types although garden berries are disappearing fast!

Sad about your road-killed badgers - I believe about 50,000 are killed annually this way :(

Em Parkinson - Thanks :) - The Atlas is great (not a book for reading cover to cover but wonderful to dip into it and so interesting). Great reference book :)