My Wildlife Moments of 2021

Where has the year 2021 gone? It only seems like yesterday that we were hopefully welcoming in the new year and wishing it would be better than 2020. Though this year has been fraught with worries and more uncertainty, nature, as always has been a constant companion. A quietude among the madness of life. Here’s my wildlife moments of 2021!

I live in quite a built up area of Liverpool and the amount of wildlife that frequents my small walled, inner city terraced yarden is truly amazing. If you look closely, wildlife is everywhere and certain species herald the seasons! I know that spring is around the corner when I spy a passing chiffchaff hunting hungrily for insects in my yarden before it moves on to better pastures.

The yarden is a haven to an array of avian species; this year I managed to save a stunned baby goldfinch who recovered after 30 mintues of heat therapy. Then there is of course the male sparrowhawk who has been visiting over the autumn. The small birds may not like him, but I think he is spectacular!

One mammal that was seen frequently during the summer months in the yarden and gave me such a buzz whenever I saw him/her was Batty, the common pipistrelle (I think). Like clockwork, after sundown, Batty would appear swooping and looping as he/she hunted the midges and moths that the yarden flowers attract. Bats are fantastic!

For The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild this year, I made a hoverfly lagoon. Though I was not sure if it was successful, I did notice more hoverflies in the yarden than usual. So, perhaps it was.

Another insect that was a first for me this year was a four spotted chaser which I photographed at Brockholes Nature Reserve.

Other highlights from a nature filled day out at Brockholes, was my first ever sighting of a common tern, a male reed bunting, Kevin the Kestrel hunting and having a dust bath, as well as an abundance of marsh orchids around the reserve.

Wildflowers have been the star of Liverpool this 2021. They sprouted in parks all over the city. Among the colourful displays was the gorgeous cosmos. Also during a walk around the city, I came across a strange flower to be growing along the sidewalk, a common flax. Not sure how that seeded itself there!

I’ve noticed recently that in my local park, a kestrel has moved in. Not sure if it’s just one or several but it’s nice so see him/her flying around when I’m standing waiting for the bus to work. I’ve also spotted a buzzard scouting the park too and one day I managed to get a photo, though sadly only on my phone.

During our wonderful week away to The Trossachs in Scotland, we spied hungry red squirrels and a great spotted woodpecker all enjoying the peanuts on the cabin feeders.

This year I’ve also been lucky enough to see some stunning sunrise and sunsets.

David and I kept our memberships with the RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts’ this year and enjoyed many days out. At Burton Mere we were serenaded by a very gregarious reed warbler and photographed a bowl of spoonbills

During our visit to Leighton Moss, we saw a great white egret and there was a stand off between a dragonfly and a fly!

At Lunt Meadows, we spent half an hour with a family of swallows and I snapped a picture of a greylag goose and a black tailed godwit.

I’ve enjoyed looking back at all the wildlife I’ve been lucky enough to see? What wildlife moments of 2021 have you enjoyed?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Eleven.

83600543_3891625950909508_7063122637384558018_oDay 11: Continuing a theme from the past two years, Close Up, where I throw a spotlight on a given species and delve a little deeper. These Close up days will be on Fridays for 2021!

Today’s Close Up will be all about the only true flying mammal: the bat – focusing on the common pipistrelle. Ever since I spotted a bat swoop in circles around my urban yarden last year, I have wanted to learn more about the species I think it was. Though I haven’t a bat detector I have plumped for the most common bat species in the UK – the common pipistrelle. 

The UK has 18 bat species. The common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) is a formidable predator eating up to 3,000 insects a night, despite being the smallest species of bat in the UK. The common pipistrelle weighs around a pound coin and is small enough to fit into a match box! Being small has it’s advantages as pipistrelles feed in a wide range of habitats. They are active between April and October and come out of their crevices, tree holes or bat boxes 20 minutes after sunset. Being nocturnal they rely on echolocation to find their prey. These frequencies, being higher than the human range can be picked up with devices such as bat detectors. Pipistrelles can be heard on frequencies ranging from 45 to 70kHz. 

pipistrelle-bat from the RSPB

pipistrelle-bat from the RSPB

The breeding season is between July and September thereafter females form maternity colonies and give birth to one live young in June/July. The pup only stays with its mother for a month before they are able to fly and after six weeks they become fully fledged. 

From November onwards pipistrelles go into hibernation or torpor. They achieve this by lowering their body temperature which reduces their metabolic rate, surviving on stored body fat. It’s only when the outside temperature increases that they awake to forage on newly emerged insects. 

The only zoonotic disease that some UK bats carry is rabies which is why if you find a sick bat, do not touch and contact the National Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228. 

In conclusion, bats are wonderful pest controllers. Some need our help as population numbers have dwindled due to changes in agricultural practices and the loss of habitat.  You can help by planting flowers that will attract insects and putting up a bat box, they are relatively inexpensive and The Wildlife Trusts have a fact sheet on how to build you own, here

Have you seen bats where you live? Have any roosting in your home?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx


Further reading:

The Wildlife Trusts

RSPB

The Woodland Trust

Bat Conservation