A moment’s predation in our nettle beds, photographed one morning last week by Ian Bushell: a crab spider, probably Xysticus cristatus, has caught a red and black froghopper, Cercopis vulnerata, for breakfast. Crab spiders don’t build webs, they lie in wait and pounce on passing prey.

Header image: crab spider (Xysticus cristatus) and froghopper by Ian Bushell (SCPLNR 0523)

On Wednesday, Ian found a dead hedgehog:

“Returning to the car park, towards the bottom of Simpson’s Field, I came across a dead hedgehog. It had been eviscerated, so most likely was killed and eaten by a badger. This is the first evidence of hedgehogs in the reserve since 2014.”

Here is a link to a recent post about the complicated relationship between hedgehogs and badgers.

Another new species

An ashy mining bee (Andrena cineraria) seen yesterday in the reserve, and photographed by Clive Knight. This is a female with two distinct bands of grey hairs across her thorax and a black, shiny abdomen.

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Is a hibernating bat safe?

Underground bat hibernation sites, called hibernacula, can attract predators. Finding signs of predation among the bats overwintering in twelve World War II bunkers in Zuid-Holland in The Netherlands, researchers set up trail cameras to identify the culprits.

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Data collected by researchers from Lund University in Sweden show that common swifts spend almost their entire 10 month non-breeding period in continuous flight. Nearly all of the swifts returning to nest sites in and around Trowbridge this summer from their winter home in sub-Saharan Africa will have been in flight non-stop since they left us last year.

Whirligig beetles

Whirligig beetles are actually a whole family of water beetles called Gyrinidae, almost 700 different species globally, most of them very much alike and extremely difficult to tell apart. We have no idea what particular species live in the pond upstream of the wooden bridge but all the Gyrinidae share some fascinating features.

Read on for details and a short video

A coal tit: Periparus ater.

Coal tits are small passerines, very similar in appearance to their close relatives, great tits, bluetits and marsh tits, also resident in the reserve. Coal tits have a distinctive white patch on the nape of their neck and a longer bill than most other Paridae.

A pair has been seen near the main entrance. Hopefully they are raising a nestful of chicks in a hole in one of the big oak trees at that end of the reserve.


Up in the heritage orchard, near the allotments, Ian Bushell has found two new species of bug for our lists: a hairy shieldbug (Dolycoris baccarum) and a cabbage shieldbug (Eurydema oleracea).

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Three butterflies photographed in the reserve this weekend: a female orange tip by Sarah Gould, a speckled wood sent in by Clive Knight and the header picture, a peacock by Mike.

We love to get your photographs of the reserve, please send them in to If you are using a camera phone, make sure that the pictures are not automatically reduced in size when you share them; we need all the pixels we can get.

Tree planting

We have been making what might seem to our followers like a great fuss about the planting of just a very few disease resistant elm trees. Here are parts of a post from March 2020, which explain what disease our precious saplings are resistant to, and why we are so eager to get them established in the hedge between Cornfield and Sleepers.

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Most UK butterflies spend the winter as caterpillars or pupae but there are five species that overwinter in their adult form: brimstone, comma, peacock, small tortoiseshell and red admiral, all of them present in the reserve.

All these photographs were taken in the reserve.

Bird flu

Bird flu, like any other flu, comes in different strains, most of which cause few or no symptoms in infected birds. But since October 2021 a very virulent strain of H5N1 has swept around the world causing serious disease and many, many fatalities among both farmed and wild bird populations.

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Badger playtime

This is the time of year when badgers bring their cubs out of the sett for the first time. The weather is warmer and the cubs are now three or four months. This pair (male and female) entice their cubs out to be groomed and to play.


Did you know that all domesticated pigeons and doves are descended from a single species: Columba livia, the rock dove?

No? Neither did we. But all those rollers, racers and dovecote occupants with fluffy feet. curly feathers and fan-tails are domesticated versions of the one species. And, apparently, the process of domestication began more than 10,000 years ago.

Header Image: rock dove (CC0)

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