In very early spring, a re-wilding, freedom beehive was installed and was colonised quickly. UWNR now has a thriving colony of wild (and very healthy) Bees. Thank you Matt Somerville for all your work with this….
The local Buzzards had 2 chicks, in a roughly hewn nest, in one of the large Ash trees at the land. They fledged successfully and are sighted over-flying UWNR, from time to time.
We carved out another south-facing insect and butterfly glade, in the main woodland. It thronged with life, throughout the summer of 2018.
The Grass Snake population significantly expanded – on a single day in mid-summer I counted 7 snakes. The lake has developed and matured, enabling this reptile to increase in number.
The Barn Owls had another brood. This was after the upsetting loss of a Barn Owl in the second ‘Beast from the East’, in March 2018.
The Wessex Home Education Group became a central feature at UWNR. They now attend regular John Muir Award sessions where we focus on specific aspects of ecology. For example we have covered Barn Owls and Dormice – their behaviours, habitat needs and their morphology.
The now mature lake attracted a range of birds – some examples; a hunting Kingfisher was a regular summer visitor, a Heron would swoop in to hunt on occasion, Little Grebes produced two broods and Mallard ducks are year round residents now.
Working with the amazing Hugo Brooke, from Butterfly Conservation, we conducted a number of moth surveys from April to September. The highlight this year was trapping and identifying a Double Kidney, which is not that common. Hugo has been trapping for decades and he had never seen this species! Thanks Hugo.
The newly planted heritage orchard bore fruit for the first time, and we nursed the trees through the punishing drought of 2018. They are now thriving and in 2019 will provide flowers for a variety of pollinators, and fruit for various vertebrates / invertebrates.
We carried out our annual Bat Survey in September confirming the species, which we had previously trapped or detected. A big thanks to ecologists Lisa Wade and Gareth Evans for managing this.
We constructed an eco-barn, which mimics a farm barn found in lowland England prior to the agri-business onslaught & related catastrophe. It will provide habitat for small mammals, the Barn Owls, Bats and Swifts, Swallows & House Martins. Thank you Will and Izaak Bergstrom for running this project.
In springtime the lake produced a multitude of frogs and toads. Perhaps millions? Perhaps hundreds of thousands? Certainly, more than tens of thousands. Protein for everyone!
We constructed a wooden barrier across a section of the stream, which runs through UWNR – this now provides winter hibernating habitat for toads and frogs.
The annual butterfly survey was completed in July – we have now counted 17 species at UWNR. In this part of southwest Wiltshire 21 species is considered to be a high-count number – UWNR compares favourably. A big thanks to Arthur Bryant from Butterfly Conservation, who conducts the annual survey.
Water Shrews were seen on a few occasions – he and she being equipped with venomous saliva!
In early winter, Jack and I cleared the Dormouse survey tubes for annual cleaning and maintenance - we (possibly? probably? certainly?) found a Dormouse nest. This is huge news – this rare species is a bio-indicator.
Finally, a big thank you to Jack Sanford for all the hard work you have done over the course of 2018.