Snippets of Success – a Woodland Trust wildlife special!
Always up against it but ever resourceful – we could be talking about all of us this year, couldn’t we? However, what has kept us all going in these uncertain times has been the discovery of the fact that life does, in fact, go on, and nowhere more so than the natural world and its fabulous will to survive. Up and down the country, when we were finding innovative ways to amuse and entertain ourselves when we had to stay indoors, some of our favourite species were busying themselves, as they always do, by showing off how resilient they are – and, in some cases, how fluffy!
Of course, these are just a few examples of what we have seen from Mother Nature this year – why not look back on Whittle to remind you of a few more? We are sure you also have many other memories of your own…
Oh, how we love the Ospreys!
Our live nest camera, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, has been streaming footage of breeding ospreys from Loch Arkaig Pine Forest since 2017. Our resident pair, Louis and Aila, returned to the nest in April 2020. Aila laid three eggs in May, and all three resulting chicks – Doddie, Vera and Captain – successfully fledged. The camera will be live again in spring 2021 to bring you a wild slice of forest life from the Scottish Highlands. We hope to see Louis and Aila back in April for another successful breeding season. You can view the Ospreys highlights for this year here!
Geoff Foale is a volunteer in the South West who discovered a couple of Little Thorn moths in exactly the same location where they were found last year, in Aveton Wood, Devon and is looking forward to further monitoring in the future to determine whether there is a small breeding colony there. They are a nationally scarce species principally known from localised parts of the the south east and an area surrounding Bristol.
Two other small colonies have recently been discovered in Devon so they could become established in isolated parts of the county. Bilberry is known to be a food source for their larvae but it is thought that they may also feed on brambles and possibly wild roses or willow.
We look forward to hearing more in 2021! Maybe you have spotted some in our ‘neck of the woods’?
Little fluffy owls come to Langley!
Of course, we have some amazing wildlife on our doorstep in the South East too and, back in March, our volunteer bird monitoring team at Langley Vale Wood put up special nest boxes for kestrels, little owls, tawny owls and barn owls, thanks to a donation-in-kind from our friends at the RSPB’s Epsom Branch. All of these species had been seen and heard around Langley Vale Wood so we hoped the new nest boxes would encourage breeding on site. We are thrilled to say that barn owls have moved in and successfully bred some very cute, fluffball chicks this year! Very soon after installing the barn owl box, there was evidence of it being used. One of the volunteers is a qualified British Trust for Ornithology ringer, specialising in barn owls. By regularly monitoring the box, he was able to ring the two chicks before they fledged. We’re also really pleased that young kestrels have also been seen this summer.
The open spaces at Langley Vale Wood provide a plentiful supply of bank voles and other prey, so we will be installing additional boxes in the hope that the barn owls will continue to breed here and numbers will increase. Thanks to our wonderful volunteers at Langley Vale Wood for their hard work in installing and regularly checking the boxes and to WWG Leader, Keith Lelliott, for this superb update.
The Woodland Trust manage open spaces to make them more species-rich over time, thus improving the habitat for a number of invertebrates, including insect and butterflies. Sensitive management paired with wildlife surveys helps the Trust to monitor changes to species diversity each year and it’s always thrilling and causes quite a stir when staff and volunteers record a new species on site!
Here are a few of this years wins…
Wasp-banded comb-horn (ctenophora flaveolata) species of crane fly captured at Langley Vale Wood in May. Photo credit Charlotte Williams.
Record numbers of the Duke of Burgundy Butterfly were recoded at Denge and Pennypot Wood in Kent, demonstrating that our conservation efforts to restore wildlife corridors are helping to increase species diversity and local populations.
Our volunteers were delighted to report their first sighting of a
Small Blue butterfly on the flowering Kidney Vetch.
It was seeded in the chlk scrapes created two years ago at Langley Vale Wood.
Bat Trapping at Glovers
This year at Glover’s Wood qualified ecologists trapped and radio tagged Bechstein’s bats which are one of the UKs rarest mammals. The surveying is being conducted as part of work commissioned by Gatwick airport and is providing us with information about the species in our wood, locations of roosts and helping to inform ash dieback management. They’ve also had barbastelle bats in the trap which as far as we are aware is a new record for Glover’s Wood.
If you’re a chiropterologist or perhaps just a lover of native small mammals, you might also enjoy reading The Bats of Dartmoor’s Wooded Valleys.
A massive thanks to all of our volunteers, who support the Woodland Trust in such a range of ways, by supporting habitat management for wildlife and also monitoring the work that has been done to gather evidence that what we are all doing is yielding some amazing results!