Wildlife in my local patch

Hampshire UK

Bass Rock and Craigleath – Gannets and Puffins

June 8, 2016 by Jackson Hellewell | Comments Off on Bass Rock and Craigleath – Gannets and Puffins

Over the half term holiday I’ve been staying in a lovely little town in Scotland called North Berwick. North Berwick is the nearest town to the world famous Bass Rock –  the iconic volcanic structure jutting above the sea. Just 20 years ago the island’s white top now stained with both gannets and their guano was only partially covered with birds. But recently more and more gannets have come back to the rock so that it has almost got to the stage where soon there will be no more room.

Bass-Rock

The boat trip allowed you to get very close to the gannets but the choppy sea made it difficult to take a picture. The one below is probably one of the best as you can see the creamy colours of the gannet’s  plumage and the brilliant blue ring around it’s eye.

Gannets

Not only did we go to Bass rock, but we also got to go to Craigleith, a nearby island with puffins, guillemots, razorbills, cormorants, shags and fulmars. There were many of these birds nesting on the island.

puffins

Craigleith. Another picture demonstrating the difficulties of taking a picture on a RIB.

Craigleath

A very cute picture of a puffin sitting in the water.

puffin

Gannets sitting on poo-stained rocks.

gannets2

More guillemots.

razorbills

The sheer number of gannets in the sky was mind blowing. Most of these were mainly juveniles socialising whilst all the adults were on the ground breeding.

Bass-rock-lighthouse

This plant below has been a real problem on islands such as Craigleith. It is called tree mallow and it is an invasive species that is a real threat particularly to puffins; as their roots block up the burrows the puffins use for nesting. In the picture below you can see a bit that was inaccessible so was left. You can see its size compared to the cormorants to the left of the picture and why it poses such a great threat.

Tree mallow

Luckily for the birds there are volunteer groups and projects like SOS Puffin run by the Scottish Seabird Centre that help try and get rid of the plant. Every year teams of volunteers cut back the invasive mallow so that there is room for the birds to nest.

Tawny Owlet in Nesting Box

May 23, 2016 by Jackson Hellewell | Comments Off on Tawny Owlet in Nesting Box

Very exciting news, the tawny owl box that I made with my Grandpa and put up in the woods in January 2015 has tawny owl chicks! I couldn’t have been more happy.

tawny-owlet

I only found out so recently because there is no camera inside or outside the box, so when they poked their heads outside it was a great surprise! The chicks downy fluff is very interesting. It is great camouflage for  moss and lichen and other nest materials. This coat of feathers would be moulted for a new set of adult feathers.

tawny-owlet2I have only seen two but there may be more inside as the average brood of a tawny owl is 2-3 eggs. They already seem to be able to climb out of the box and look at the outside world. This will be very useful when it comes time for the owlets to fledge. I’ll post more updates as soon as I can.

tawny-owlet3

Chiffchaffs officially back in my patch!

April 7, 2016 by Jackson Hellewell | Comments Off on Chiffchaffs officially back in my patch!

Although I have heard 1 or 2 Chiffchaffs a day for the last week or so I don’t call them ‘officially back’ in my local area until I have seen one and heard a lot more per day.  On Saturday I  heard at least 12 when I was on a cycle ride and so I am now officially saying they are back in my patch. chiff-chaff

Also I have seen another summer migrant in and around my local patch, the Swallow!   I have seen a couple now, hopefully more and more will be arriving soon and they will start to nest. They seem to be very early this year,  probably another side effect of the weird winter that we had, the first time I spotted one this year was the 31st of March!

Swallow

May 31, 2015
by Jackson Hellewell
Comments Off on Bassenthwaite Ospreys – in the Lake District

Bassenthwaite Ospreys – in the Lake District

Last week, over half term, I went away for a few days to Keswick in the Lake district. We did loads of hill walking and enjoyed the wildlife we saw. On the way back I visited  the Ospreys at Bassenthwaite (click … Continue reading