Flicking the cosmic switch... / by Jonathan Thomson

I have spent many hours at UWNR in wonder and joy, but the last 2 days have been extraodinary - Mother Nature has flicked her cosmic switch and unleashed abundance. In no particular order, this is what I observed and experienced - some of this on my own and others things with my good friend and co-worker Jack....

I watched Moorhen chicks, no bigger than 50 pence coins, being fed by attentive parents.

We were left aghast at the lake bursting with thousand upon thousand of toad tadpoles - great bait balls gently pulsing and shape-shifting. 

I counted 8 golden-collared Grass Snakes all basking under their iron solariums - the largest more than 3 foot in length. Jack and I then saw this monster, later in the day, burst from the lake side vegetation and attack a seething ball of toad tadpoles - our very own Blue Planet moment! 

We watched the nervous Buzzard tend to her nest and the smaller male circle on the thermals hunting. 

We discovered Wagtail, Blackbird, Robin & Blue Tits all nesting. Some of these nests in the most bizarre places - the Robin nest, with small shiny eggs, was tucked into the folds of a tarpaulin lying on the ground.  

I caught flashes of a Water Shrew ducking, diving and weaving up through the small stream that runs at the foot of the Barn Owl field. 

We watched young Song Thrush fledglings taking cover in among the dense blackthorn and hawthorn of the main hedge, which runs through the spine of UWNR. 

Overnight I was woken by the young Badgers cavorting - chattering, nattering and laughing. 

Jack and I caught fleeting glances of the Roe deer doe moving gently back into the ground where each year she gives birth - our hunch, she has another fawn to nurture. 

The first of the dragon and damselflies have emerged and have moved beyond the lake - we saw them hunting in the main woodland, which is 200 - 300 meters from their water-body. 

Jack sighted the Kingfisher for first time this spring - it flashed by, a feathery dart of blue and burnt orange. It will have returned to prey on toad tadpoles, which proliferate. 

While we ate lunch we observed a Nuthatch feverishly hunting in the veteran oaks - it prising out invertebrates, then flying off hurriedly to a nearby nest. 

Jack and I saw saw a stoat hop through the long grass near the barn, then inspect a hole in the veteran oak, and finally, disappear into what must be its nest burrow in the bank ditch, to the west of the barn.