You may recall a previous post about an ambitious, crowd-funded nature documentary project. The project is alive and well but has morphed slightly and is now seeking funding through a different site. They have also got Biologist Simon Watt (Inside Nature's Giants) on board as a presenter.

A family walk in the lovely Cassiobury Park, Watford, was much enhanced by seeing bats flying in broad daylight. It was the first hot day of the year, hitting 20c, and I wonder if that had anything to do with it, though I visit the park only rarely so for all I know they're out and about most days.

The first was hunting in a clearing in the trees by the river, about 20-30 feet up. The second, unless it was in fact the same individual, was skimming low over the canal, patrolling a stretch of a couple of hundred feet. I managed to get a video of the second, though a fast-flitting bat filmed at 12X zoom on a compact camera by an idiot like me does not add up to BBC HD quality results.

What sort of bat is it? I guess either a Daubentons or a Pippistrelle, the former being particularly noted for its water-skimming, though others sometimes do the same.

What drives bats to come out during the day? This academic paper gives a really detailed insight into daytime flying, but suffice to say it's not that unusual and it's probably to make up for poor feeding at night, or to take advantage of good hunting. Or one of many other possible reasons.


Reader Fiona sent in this picture of a rabbit she saw in the wild. However she wonders if it is in fact an escaped pet rabbit, given its unusual colouration. Maybe it's even a second generation pet/wild cross?

Are there any rabbit experts out there that can offer an opinion? Maybe it's even your escaped rabbit!

The BBC has an absolutely brilliant gallery of woodland wonders, from the Woodland Trust's recent photo competition, as judged by Simon King. Definitely worth a look.

If you like cats (and I do) then you should take a look at this BBC report on Scottish Wildcats and then read the Wikipedia page on the wonderfully named Felis silvestris (i.e. the same animal). They really do look just like slightly evil domestic moggies. Or if you prefer, our domestic moggies clearly show their heritage as they stalk prey in the garden.

Actually the Latin name set me wondering if the cartoon cat Sylvester was named knowingly. Once again we turn to Wikipedia and find that yes, this is a deliberate pun, though it points out that Sylvester is a true domestic cat and hence Felis catus. Shucks. However some declare domestic cats as Felis silvestris catus (a subspecies of the wildcat) in which case all is right with the world.

Obviously this isn't indigenous to the UK, being Madagascan ordinarily, but I couldn't resist this picture of a cheeky chappy (or lady for all I know) at Whipsnade Zoo. You can walk amongst these Ring-tailed lemurs in a special enclosure. They reminded me of cats, walking haughtily with their tails held high.

Admittedly this is rather cheating as far as UK nature goes, but I couldn't not post this picture of an imperious male lion taken at Whipsnade Zoo. They tend to loll around by the floor to ceiling glass of the viewing area, hence availing themselves of good close up photos. That is assuming you can find a clean enough bit of glass to put your lens up against.

How do they keep their fur so clean when presumably they nosh down on bloody meat? I suppose they bathe in a pool and lick themselves clean but I'm still rather surprised.


We have a neat bird feeder that attaches to the glass of our sliding doors which affords us close up views of blue tits and great tits for the main part. They seem entirely happy to be there just a few feet from you, though if you move much they dash off. This squirrel however is totally fearless and seems to understand how glass works – i.e. you can get as close as you like on the other side of it but you can't touch it.

This allows for some close-up squirrel photography, though reflections can be a bit of a problem, as can the dirty windows and lack of light on the side I'm photographing.


03. May 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Mammals

The wallaby pictured above is actually at Whipsnade Zoo, but you may be surprised to hear that they can be found living in the wild in the UK too in a few particular places. See the Feral Populations sections of the Wikipedia page on Wallabies for the details of the populations that have come and gone in a few choice spots.

Actually the Whipsnade wallabies are generally allowed to roam freely within the extensive parkland grounds of the zoo along with other animals like Muntjac deer and Mara, which I blogged on previously. It's easy to see how they could live quite happily in the wild in the UK, being bouncier deer in many respects.


After yesterday's introduction, here follows the second instalment in our big interview with Chris Packham, supporting Allinson's Conservation Grade program and associated free bird feeder promotion. The third and final instalment is also now available.

In fact you may well have seen Chris on TV this evening presenting the Animal's Guide to Britain on BBC2. I thought it was rather good, especially the beavers and jumping up and down on the rippling layer of 'land' atop a buried lake.

Topics this time round include being something other than a bird-spotter and Chris' nature photography. Stay tuned for more, including Chris' favourite nature related joke in the next instalment!

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