Hornets

Although we haven’t yet found a nest, there are always European hornets working somewhere in the reserve. Here is an astonishing video of hornets in flight.

Video by nature photographer, Lothar Lenz, published by Caters Clips.

In response to yesterday’s fledglings, somebody sent me a link to a YouTube video of great tits leaving their nest. The screen is split so that you can see the inside and the outside of the nest box at the same time.

Easter Bunny

For decades there has been a rabbit warren in the hedge between Sleepers Field and Cornfield, in the stretch from the picnic place to Puddle Corner. Here’s a video that shows how astonishingly complex such a warren can be.

Header image: rabbit (CC0) from pixabay.com

We have been working with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Water Team to establish great crested newt habitat in the reserve. Here is a video of what we hope might be happening somewhere in one of our ponds.

Nesting

At this time of year, the reserve’s blue tits are building nests in holes in our old trees. The ash tree at Fiveways harbours a nest every year and the fenced oak near the bottom of the Arboretum seems to have attracted more than one pair already.

Here is a video of a female blue tit building a nest while, outside, the male guards the site from marauders and thieves.

Video from The Nest Box
Header picture by Simon Knight

Buff tailed bumblebees

The aerodynamically unlikely buff tailed bumblebee queens are already out of hibernation and buzzing around between the park’s spring flowers. Here is a video about their surprising flying skills:

This is the time when great crested newts emerge from their winter hibernation.

Here is a video following a female newt’s search for a mate and the ideal conditions in which to lay her eggs. We are hoping that our newly established pond (see here, here and here) will attract this rare and endangered species to breed in the reserve.

On the twelfth day of Christmas

The park’s twelve drummers drumming are great spotted woodpeckers. They begin drumming at the end of winter as part of a courtship ritual in which the male marks out his territory and advertises his presence. He drums his beak against hollow wood 10 to 20 times in just 2 seconds, and the females replies briefly as she enters his territory.

Here is a video:

Video recorded in March 2019 by George Ewart

Woodpeckers

We have both greater and lesser spotted woodpeckers on our species lists but it is many years since the single sighting of a lesser spotted woodpecker in the park. Here is a video from the BTO to help you tell the difference between the two.

Header picture: greater spotted woodpecker in the reserve photographed by DKG

Cop 26 does not appear to have reached an agreement that will limit global heating to 1.5°C. The really frightening thing is that we all know what has to be done but the people who make the decisions are not listening to us.
Here is Sir David Attenborough on the simple matter of saving our planet:

First frost

Last night brought the year’s first frost to many parts of the country.

Video: Timelapse of frost forming on European beech leaves ©Alastair MacEwen/naturepl.com
Header image: frosted leaves by DKG

Hallowe’en Greetings to all our arachnophobes from park resident, Agelena labyrinthica.

Header picture: Labyrinth spider by Gail Hampshire (CC BY 2.0)
Video from: Animalia Kingdom – Łukasz Karnatowski

Tardigrades

Tardigrades have been found everywhere in Earth’s biosphere, from the highest mountaintops to the deepest sea  and from tropical rainforests to the Antarctic. There are sure to be some, somewhere, in the reserve’s ponds, going quietly about their business.

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It’s garden-tidy-up time.

Keep a look out for hibernating amphibians as you tidy up your garden ready for winter. Frogs, toads and newts will find sheltered places to hibernate in hedge bottoms, compost heaps, under stones and in log piles and are best not disturbed. Take particular care if you are planning to clear out a pond: frogs and newts will sometimes overwinter in the mud at the bottom.

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More about acorns…

…and squirrels.

Here is a video, taken from BBC Earth’s Spy In The Wild series, about squirrels caching acorns.

The header picture was taken in the park by DKG

Hornets

An astonishing video of European hornets in flight.

Video by nature photographer, Lothar Lenz, published by Caters Clips.

Broad bodied chaser

Have you seen the male broad bodied chasers fighting for territory in spectacular aerial dog fights over the pond? There were at least ten of them yesterday, as well as two females laying their eggs in the pond’s shallow margins. If you’re passing, pause and watch; here is a video to help you with identification.

Header picture: broad bodied chaser (Libellula depressa) © Simon Knight.

Most of the reserve’s grey squirrels will have two litters of young this year. The first litter was born in the spring, and is now ready to be weaned in preparation for leaving the nest and the care of their mother. Here is a video of a family of young squirrels, on the edge of independence, trying to persuade their mother to feed them.

Header image by DKG

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