Some of my favourite photos

Thursday, 29 October 2015

New blog now on Wordpress

I have started a new blog on Wordpress.

I will be keeping this one as it has all my old posts but blogging on Wordpress from now on.

It is still not quite finished but please go and have a look, and follow if you like it.

www.appletonwildlifediary.wordpress.com

Thanks

Alex


Monday, 26 October 2015

Spider and the fly

Just as I was walking past our conservatory, a fly flew straight in front of me and landed in a cobweb, it started to struggle, going round and round trying it's hardest to get away.
The Spider ran down the web from where she was hiding out under the window,  she began to spin insanely round and round with the fly while wrapping the bottom half of the fly up in a few pieces of web.
Once the spider had secured the fly, it looked like she was feeding from the flies abdominal segment while the fly was thrashing it's legs about wildly.
After a bit the fly stopped moving so I ran inside to get a piece of white paper to put behind the window to make the photos clearer.
Richard Comont very kindly identified these as a house fly and a Zygiella x-notata (Missing Sector Orb Spider)





Spinning






It was both fascinating and disgusting at the same time!


Wrapped up

The spider then left the fly and went back to hiding under the window frame.
In this photo you can see the missing sectors in the web therefore the name Missing Sector Orb weaver spider.



I went to see Steve Backshall do a talk last night and one of the topics he was talking about was arachnophobia, he said in defense of spiders you have to think about how many flies there would be if there were no spiders


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Evening falls on my local patch

Just after the sun set we took the dogs across the field for their last walk of the day.
As all the Rooks settled into the Rookery and the Greylag geese flew overhead back to Farmoor reservior, a Litttle Owl started to call out of the darkness.
The little owl's call became clearer when I wandered around the bend in the field, leading me to believe the owl was on the fence post in the field of cows.
Once the Little owl fell silent the only sounds left were our wellies squelching through the mud made by todays earlier rain, the dogs rustling through the grass and cars driving up and down a nearby road.

As the season changes and the temperature is dropping, it feels like I need to start wear gloves and a hat.

I'm never sure whether I like the pylons across the valley. They are an interesting and familar sight to me but I often find them annoying when I'm trying to take photos of birds and the wire keep getting in the way.



Lookout on the Rookery
In the distance the blue green glow of the landing lights at RAF Brize Norton mark how far I can see and tiny pinpricks of light show odd houses between the field I'm standing in and the town of Witney.


When heading home bats were swooping around a single oak tree trying to catch moths and the last of the insects, twisting and turning then disappearing back behind the oak tree.


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Secret life of our allotment

Looking at all of the trails, tracks and signs I had an idea that we were getting a few different animals up on our allotment.
Yesterday I left the trail camera up at the allotment for 24 hours to see what happened.



First of all came a Green Woodpecker.
 Next, most of the activity was between 7pm and 9pm where a Hare came through one end of the allotment and hopped towards the other end, then lots of clips of rats and rabbits. It's a good job this part of the allotment only has fruit trees in it.


video


video

The rat is trying to carry away an apple.

video

This rabbit is doing a great impression of a Meerkat

video

We have definitely got a badger track through our allotment, I can see where the badger comes in from the brambles, walks through our allotment and out in to one of the unattended allotments opposite ours.
It was fantastic to actually get the badger on the trail camera. The first one came through around 2.30am, then another or the same one again at 5.30am.

video

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sunday autumnal walk

Today we had a family walk with the dogs from Bablockhyth along the Bridle way all the way to Cumnor which is a four mile walk there and back.
Bablockhyth was once the site of a ferry across to Northmoor first mentioned around 1212, it remained in use until the 1960's.
 I had plenty of time to slowly walk and take some shots of autumn, birds and the scenery.
As soon as we started to walk there was plenty of movement from the hedgerow all around, where lots of small birds were hopping about, including Robins, Chaffinches, Great tits, Blue tits, Tree creepers and Long tailed tits, all competing to be the loudest.
The Dunnock who sat at the top of the branch, singing and looking around won the competition
Flocks of birds were gathering in the ploughed fields near to where the path is, it's a bit difficult to tell what type of birds they are.




Along the footpath, the chattering of the Starlings and the loud shout of the Jays accompanied us.
 Greater spotted woodpeckers, pheasants, geese, different types of fungi and what looks like a well, hidden away, made it an interesting walk.
Once I got home I did some research on the well. It is called a Physic well, a Holy well or Sacred spring. It is around 5 feet deep and it has a reputation for 'being good for eye troubles' other than that there isn't much written about it.










Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Busy week

During the past couple of weeks the Rooks have been moving back into their winter rookery, which is opposite my house. It has been interesting to hear them back on the wires in the morning, to watch their acrobatics and in the evenings they gather in large numbers over the trees before they settle down for the night.
Over the summer the birds of prey have become quite used to the Rooks not being around but now they have returned it seems a constant battle for territory. The Buzzards have moved back a field but I expect they will be back along the roadside when the Fieldfares return.
The three Kestrels are really having a hard time and don't seem to get any time to hunt and the Red Kites are also being picked on, even the jackdaws side with the Rooks.



I did watch a Red Kite, when it wasn't being chased by Rooks, catch what looks like a moth and eat it.
Red Kite with a moth
 I am not really that keen on spiders however my mum doesn't mind them. This female house spider crawled up and down her arm for ages before returning under the TV cupboard.
Female house spider


 On Sunday I met up with four other young naturalists to do a podcast about children and nature for The Wildlife Trust. To start with I was quite nervouse, but Charlie soon put us all at ease. We answered lots of questions about what we thought could be done to encourage more children to enjoy nature.



On Monday evening I went to Oxford Natural History museum to listen to George McGavin do his talk on Monkey Planet. The talk was very engaging, I learnt loads about George himself and how he got in to wildlife and about the series, as well as insights in to how it was filmed, which I found the most interesting bit.
George McGavin is very amusing, interesting and informative, it was one of the best talks I have been to.



Yesterday my copy of the British Wildlife Photography Awards book turned up.
I was told back in the summer that one of my photos had been shortlisted for the book, but until I actually saw it in print yesterday it didn't seem real.





Tuesday, 6 October 2015

National Badger Day

Hopefully you all know that today is National Badger Day.

Back at the beginning of the summer I was approached while I was at one of the Badger marches, to see if I would be interested in taking part in a film for National Badger Day.

On the first day of the summer holidays I went down to Bristol with Elissa and Georgia to be filmed talking about our encounters with Badgers. I talked about this years cubs and how long I have been watching my local Badgers.

National Badger Day is a celebration of this wonderful creature which should be protected and celebrated not persecuted.

A few trailers have been released over the last couple of weeks but today is when the film came out. 
It has been a real privilage to be part of this as I am very passionate about Badgers and I hope this film shows everyone how brilliant Badgers are.

Here is the link 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=drcBAct42TQ&feature=youtu.be

There are lots of events going on today and over the next few days that you can join in with or you could support your local Badger group.


This was when filming had finished



Witney march for Badgers

Badger march in Oxford



These are some of the photos that I have taken this year of my local badgers. Although I go down to see them quite often it is always magical especially when they snuffle around our feet.






Monday, 5 October 2015

Garden bird behaviour

As soon as I got home from school I went into the back garden as the birds were making so much noise.
Both our garage roof and next doors garage roof were covered with Chaffinches, Great tits and Blue tits. There were also birds on the fences and in the trees.
All the birds seemed to be hopping up and down picking something off the leaves, garage roof and between the fence panels.
Our garden Robin didn't seem very impressed and spent the whole time trying to chased away all the birds.
My guess is that after so many dry days over the past few weeks and then it has been raining all day, all the spiders or little bugs have come out and that's what all the birds are after.
Am I close?






Friday, 2 October 2015

Afternoon off school

Yesterday I had the afternoon off school due to open evening, so the school closed early, giving me time to walk around the wood without rushing before it got dark.
Amelia and I had a great time wandering around and playing on the rope swing in the woods. Three hours went very quickly
I was out looking for anything that caught my eye, but particularly Fly Agaric as I know where a patch appears every year under the pine trees. It looked like something had been nibbling them.

A lot of the leaves on the trees are just starting to turn brown and when the wind blew great patches of leaves fell.
All the dry fallen leaves on the floor isn't very helpful when I'm trying to be quiet and creep close to get a photo of a bird or animal. I could hear the Goldcrests in the trees but couldn't get anywhere near them.
We found a few Barn owl feathers in a place where I regularly find feathers from a Barn owl, but I have never actually seen one around that area, but I don't often go there at dawn or dusk.
Out in the field, on the way back home, three Kestrels were hunting, one female and two males. They were using the telegraph wires to sit on, then swooping down into the field after something, only to return without catching anything.



Southern hawker



Fly Agaric





The night before we popped in to the woods to see if the badgers were around. After about 5 minutes these three came out, along with the cub and its mum. A couple of the badgers were picking off the blackberries with their teeth from the bush behind the sett.
At one stage we had eight badgers around us.
I put my trail camera out at the side of our garden and was happy to see the badgers still come up to visit us, even though it is at 3am.