Corona virus and the effects on wildlife

The last year has been a very challenging time, not just for us humans but also for wild animals.

Last years first lockdown situation did help out wildlife to some extent but it was short lived. At first people didn’t go out, so nature encroached our towns and gardens for a short while, enjoying a quieter springtime and easier breeding, especially for birds. Many people reported nature taking over! if only!

Then came the assult on the environment , where people were encouraged to go out and enjoy themselves, along with the fact that people were out of work, or working from home, gave them all the time in the world to go out and explore. They did in their hoards and had no respect for sensitive nature. Dorset was plagued by people from all over the UK and they destroyed the sensitive fabric of the ecosystem by dumping loads of litter, rubbish, bottles, dog poo and just about everything else. they had Barbie’s and burned cliff top habitats and heathland, grassland and forests. All this has had a huge detrimental effect on wildlife and as people are still out everywhere, with their uncontrollable dogs, wildlife is suffering still, and will do for a while longer at least until we get back to normal.

So many heartbroken people reported to me the amount of litter at beauty sites, small fires from cooking outdoors, broken trees and river banks churned up with mud from the hoards of walkers and cyclists. Reed beds decimated so warblers cannot nest, swans nests being wrecked by dogs and stone throwing kids!

It is about time the education authorities pulled their fingers out and made new rules regarding school education, and overhaul the system to educate kids about real life , nature, respect and how to be sensitive to wildlife and their habitats. The governments should be discouraging people to keep pets of all types especially domestic cats and dogs. So much destruction of wildlife, their habitats and domestic farm livestock is attributed to dogs and their walkers. It is a very serious situation.

So far this spring the bird life has been great with ospreys, sea eagles, thousands of black tailed godwits around the Lytchet bay areas. I hope to add some photos as soon as I get my head around this new word press format!

Sand lizards have been out basking for two weeks at least and even though it may seem cold to us(Me at least) it is warm at ground level on the dark sandy heathland. Males have not yet started to acquire the green colour, but are active in fighting one another for small territories. I saw an aggressive common lizard keep chasing away male sand lizards three times its own size in one place.

A lovely Sika stag stands guard amongst the reedbeds of Poole harbour during last years rut.




A jewel wasp Chrysis sp. These solitary wasps parasitize other solitary bees that make burrows in clay or sandy  cliffs



This adder had her home moved, a piece of tin was removed from a shady area where this snake had her burrow and I replaced it where it should have been, along with the snake. This adder is unusual not by being dark, almost melanistic, but the bright yellow tail similar to Russian vipers. There is a small colony of these types around Lytchet bay.




A grass snake hunts fish around the fishermen on Ham lake. Large shoals of Rudd and carp attract them in hot sunshine, some can be seen to the right.




A flock of thirteen bearded tits remained all winter at Lytchet bay, but they are so hard to photograph spending most time hidden among the reed heads, their main food is the the seeds.



Little egrets and great white herons can be seen at most times when the tide is out, especially the little egret



This maybe the local female osprey or a migrant! the later most likely as several came through in march and fished in Lytchet bay.


A sea eagle flew over early march. They fly so high that they are generally invisible to most people, even those who watch out for them. The clue is to listen to those herring gulls! as with every raptor spotting, they are the ones that notify us of any raptors, especially if it is a species that is uncommon to the area.



A feral Harris hawk eyes up rats in a garden at Throop. She had been there since last Autumn and is still out and about I think. At least she is keeping down the numbers of rats, much rather nature does this rather than man and his horrible poisons!


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Harvest mouse

I found a ball or woven mollinia grass on a heathland path, I knew it to be the nest of one of Europe’s smallest rodents, the harvest mouse. I gathered it up and noticed that it was rather heavy although soaking wet with recent heavy rain. On squeezing it gently I felt a small lump inside so opened it up to find a baby harvest mouse, dead and a few days decomposing. I wondered who had placed it in the path away from the grass clumps. It didn’t seem to have any damage on the nest or the mouse, maybe strong winds had simply blown it away and most of the baby mice and parent may have fled leaving one weak individual behind!

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The cold mygalorph

the only mygalamorph spider to live in Northern areas like the Arctic circle is Atypus . We have A. affinis in the UK. It is common on our southern Heathland at least and can be seen wondering around looking for females in case of the male, which does this at any time of the year.I found this one late November, but the females I have only found in the springtime also searching for males.It is a primitive species and like the bird eating tarantulas(wrongly named)is slow and long lived.The male has huge chelicerae.

I have only a few times seen fully white pheasants. I found a lovely white female a short while ago, totally white except four brown nape of the neck feathers.She had purple- blue eyes! not pink.

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Footprints in the snow

This winter we have had snow, very unusually and lots of it. it is of course a good time to get out and track wild animals. One of the most surprising aspects of this field work is to find the evidence of animal of which were not thought or believed to exist in certain areas. Many naturalists fail to do the field work and if they did, then they would also find evidence of exceptional importance.


In this photo, one can see the footprints of several mammal species.There is polecat, pine martin, badger, fallow deer,fox and brown hare. These prints were found in cranborne chase in Dorset.

These are the footprints of a wildcat, no not in Scotland but here in the south of England in Dorset. wildcats have always survived here, despite the constant belief that they have not done for about a hunderd years or more. I have found a road killed specimen of a eight week old kitten that was as large as a small house cat and its teeth had not yet erupted through its jaw. this kitten was larger than a hen pheasant( see previous posts for photos) in big cat section.the footprints of the Eurasian wildcat are slightly different from those of the domestic cat by being more lynx like, and larger. These were six cm in length and followed a hare across woodland and open field.the print above the first cat print by my feet, is that of a fox.



this is a print of a leopard as it leaped over a bank and barbed wire fence, clearing six feet of snow.

this is typical pine martin prints. Often especially in the North of England or Scotland the martin grows thick fur between its toes and usually the pads are not so clear. down south, we rarely get snow so the martin has lost this evolutionary trait to deal with cold and snow, thus the toe pads are more clear. I found the prints of two individuals at the same place suggesting that a female was followed by a male; it was their breeding time in February.

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The Bad Bournemouth spur Road

Local people who live around Bournemouth ,Christchurch and Ringwood areas will no doubt be aware of the new surface to the A338 Bournemouth spur road to Ashley heath roundabout. It has been recently re-surfaced ,widened in some areas and has been dubbed as the greenest road in the south ! I beg to differ. the road is far from environmentally friendly, and in fact is just the opposite.The road now has a concrete barrier within the central reservation for the whole of its length, when before there were steel rails that did an adequate job of preventing runaway vehicles from entering opposite lanes. Now, wild animals cannot cross the road for almost the whole of its length. In fact the road has become a death trap to all wild animals and has posed an even greater threat to motorists as deer try to jump the wall, people in vehicles cannot see what is coming over the wall and so plough into anything causing huge damage to themselves, their vehicles and off course other road users. What gets me is the fact that in the Bournemouth echo, the road was dubbed the greenest and most environmentally friendly road to be rebuilt! how and why can this be? The road is a disgrace where the wall comes in. All wild animals need and have to roam freely to be healthy and spread their genes. Too many barriers such as main roads, railways, and fences are so detrimental to the welfare of wildlife. The whole of the UK is covered in railway lines and dual carriageways causing much distress to mammals. It is bad enough building more roads and railway links and if the HS2 happens then that will be absolutely atrocious. We cannot keep doing this just because of the fact that humans breed like rats and need more and more of everything. When will it stop ? Since the new road has been overhauled, I have seen foxes,badgers,polecats,muntjack,sika,roe,fallow,otters and other animals dead at the centre of the road, been unable to cross to the other side. There are three main areas where mammals cross this long section of road and none of them were earmarked for tunnels ! why not? i would like to know who was on the planning board . It seems yet again that Bournemouth borough council has not given a dam,n for wildlife and conservation which of course ids normal. They have a very bad reputation regarding this issue.

In the photos, muntjack and sika deer lie dead at the roadside when they may have made it across if the concrete barrier was not there.


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Bug eats bug

Water troughs for livestock are often vital living and breeding grounds for a variety of small creatures, mainly water creatures such as bugs. Water beetles and flying bugs such as pond skaters and boatmen fly and they rely on reflecting water surfaces to find home. This is often not the ideal place but they can always take flight again ,although often difficult. People often wonder how water beetles and pond skaters appear on the bonnets of cars or other reflective surfaces. Pond skaters are true bugs and they are predatory feeding on other insects that fall into the water. Water boatmen are also bugs and they behave in a similar manner, but they too become food for other bugs if they are unwell like this specimen.img_7665Another bug species that is making an appearance now is the western conifer seed bug. Every autumn they appear out of no where in areas where there are many pine trees. They are pretty and are easy to approach. They originated in North America before finding their way to Europe recently, and are now a common feature.This species is the largest terrestrial species to be found inn the Uk

img_7588This maybe a splendid year for fungi, as long as we have plenty of rain. There are interesting varieties already fruiting.

copy-of-img_7654This bracket has yet to be identified.

copy-of-img_7648These are dead men fingers.


img_7362The oak bush cricket lays her eggs, to overwinter before hatching in the springtime.

img_7436A very handsome young male adder has recently fed, possibly on a small lizard. females of the species are usually brick red when they are this small.The males turn lighter as they grow, the females retaining the brown. This specimen was only nine centimetres long.

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The failing conservation bodies.

As usual I am very worried regarding the future of our lowland heaths. There are meant to be stringent laws and regulations regarding the protection of these rare habitats and one would have thought that over the last few decades of heathland protection, that conservationists would know the difference between right and wrong management practices. However, this is obviously wrong.One of our best tracks of lowland heath within Dorset is Arne heath nature reserve run by the R.S.P.B. When i was a young boy, I was out with the conservation volunteers clearing scrub especially encroaching pine trees, by pulling them up in their thousands every winter. since the nineteen eighties, this practice was not used so much as the heaths were grazed by deer, sika deer which do a grand job naturally manicuring the heather,gorse and eating the seedling pines. The R.S.P.B along with other conservation bodies have waged war on sika deer and near on eliminated them from the reserve and many other parts of Purbeck heathland.This is an Eco disaster. Without these beneficial animals doing this, Arne has sprouted thousands of small pines all over the area and the young trees are about three to four years old, which would suggest that teams of people have not been pulling them for this length of time.The heath is becoming overgrown. Also with no deer, there is no dung for the many species of beetles and fly to use, some use the dung of cattle but it is the larger beetles and flies that need the deer pellets, and these beetles feed the birds and reptiles. Deer do not destroy reptile sites like heavy cattle do and do not over graze as some of the staff have stated. When local visitors ask where have all the deer gone, they are told that they were starving and overgrazing the area. this is of course very wrong. How much longer are we going to be told lies by the R.S.P.B staff? Many good naturalists are very worried about this situation.Copy of IMG_7192

All the green bits, are small pine trees. There are no deer here to graze them out.

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This rare fly(Asilius crabroniformis)(hornet robber fly) can be still found on the heath but is becoming scarcer as the deer are taken out. I do hope that modern conservation bodies realize their mistake, but as usual with humanity, we only know what we have lost after it has gone and by then it is too late. The deer may have needed to be finned out a bit, but not near on eliminated. Sika deer are so similar to red deer and do the same job .In the past, there were herd grazing this very heath before the nineteen fifties, so nobody can claim that they are a none native invasive species in the same way as a few other species, and besides they have natural predators. Pumas and leopards have been eating them for decades and have used Purbeck as one of the main healthy breeding areas simply because of its bio diversity and especially because of the large amounts of deer were enough to sustain them. now there is not enough along with poaching and road kill, let alone the eradication(see my big cat blog) programme.There may be more domestic stock taken, more birds, and dogs taken because of this.

The Japanese sika deer (Cervus japonicus) has been a welcome addition to British wildlife and adds that special completeness in the wake of the red deer going.The species brings many visitors and naturalists to Purbeck especially during the rutting season after September to November.


A small herd of sika hinds that are clearly not overgrazing the heaths.

Some better news

house sparrows are on On another note, some good nthe increase due to some local councils not cutting roadside verges. Grass needs to flower and seed to feed finches. Sparrows depend on this for their survival and in recent times this species has had to adapt. Many sparrows feed mainly on spiders around the houses, but on the Bournemouth cliff tops, this year the council have not cut the grass (thank goodness) which means a whole variety of species benefit. These sparrows are eating the seeds of grass, tree lupin and sea beats. As long as long grass is available then this flock will survive.


The western green lizard(Lacerta Biliniata) has returned from a near absence with several adults being seen. Over collection and bad weather for the last three years saw their numbers crash. There are now only approx a third of the numbers there were six years ago.This species has no legal protection in this country as it is thought to be a none native, which really is not true. reptiles naturally colonise by several different means and regardless of this status they should still be protected in the UK as in Europe. We need this species here and they do not out compete with other native species as they evolved alongside them.  We have to consider global warming and the natural movement of species.

IMG_7271 A mature male green lizard basks after rain.

IMG_7264A female mature green lizard basks. I hope her eggs hatch to create a new generation. This species must survive, even if they are not natural colonies. There are no sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) within the areas where the green lizard lives, so they do not pose a problem , and nearby colonies of the former are not in good health anyway as they are inbred, and most of them live on the open heaths rather than the small strip of coastal cliff. It is best to allow in the wake of global warming as in the future the area may be too warm for common lizards and even perhaps the sand lizard. This species, along with the common wall lizard(Podarcis muralis) can be the adapting species needed to fill the gap.


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Madagascar. The isle of biodiversity

In 2014, myself along with four other people went to Madagascar to study the diverse wildlife. The island of the east coast of Africa is amazing and very bio-diverse. Like all tropical areas it is under great pressure from human activity;forests are being cut and burned. The remaining rain forest lies along the eastern edge of the island bordered by highlands which play a role in weather. The east coast rainforests are rich because of rain at certain times of year, contrasting with the dry desert like areas of the west and south. We studies insects, spiders, frogs and reptiles and photographed many species, many of which are new to science. I have hundreds of photos to publish here, so over the next few weeks I hope to have them all on. Many species have not been identified so if any people knowledgeable on Malagasy wildlife can help out, that would be great.

Flower chafer

Flower chaffer


Nephilengys borbonica

Nephilengys borbonica


Nephila madagascariensis

Nephila madagascariensis


Mantella baroni

Mantella baroni


Mantella aurantiaca

Mantella aurantaica


Malagassy nightjar

Malagasy Nightjar


Jack in the box cricket

Jack in the box bush cricket


Lightening over Andasibe

lightening over Andasibe


ithycyhpus perineti

Ithycyhpus perineti


padilla sp.Maybe new species

Jumping spider    Padilla  sp


Oleander type

Oleander type hawkmoth


Phelmula sp.

Day gecko   Phelsuma sp


Sanzinia madagascariensis 2

Sanzinia madagascariensis


Red fody

Red fody


Thomisus sp

Thomisid crab spider

Thomisd crab spider

Thomisid crab spider


phelsuma breakfast

Phelsuma lineata

Phelsuma juv

Phelsuma sp.juvenile



Unidentified cockroach

Many species of cockroaches abound, most of them native but many none natives also. some are very colourful.

yellow and black giraffe necked weevils fighting

Yellow and black giraffe weevils. Two males sparing, a female roles the leaf ready for egg laying.There have been found at least seven species of leaf roller weevils, most of them having long necks like the typical red giraffe weevil. I found six species.

Verdent hawk

Verdant hawk moth


Uralia madagascariensis

Uralia madagascariensis



Zonosauras madagascariensis.

Plated lizard.                Zonosaurus madagascariensis

Unknown species

Unidentified snake species.



Chameleon.  Calumma malthe
Calumma malthe

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Mole and shrew


The common mole can be found dead along paths and roadsides now as young animals leave their parent. They are very vulnerable especially males as they are chucked out of the underground nests more abruptly and are forced to cover greater distance as they are so territorial. It is more often males that I find on paths having been trodden on by people who dont even see them, or by deer and horses. Most moles are this colour but with slight variations in shade, but I recently had a report of a blonde mole alongside a normal coloured sibling. I have yet to find an odd coloured mole but there are many reports of pi-bold animals, blonde,yellow, greenish,or white , even jet black.


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The common shrew can also be found dead and maybe more often than alive, as it is so fast and furious when under cover, it is hard to see them. the high pitched squeaks that they emit are rarely heard by ageing adults. they too are very vulnerable on paths and roads. they also seem to drop dead whilst doing their stuff, as their bodies cannot cope with stress or hunger and they keel over wherever they are. I find many common shrews in paths , sometimes pygmy shrews.Moles and shrews, along with hedgehogs and bats are all insectivores. they are not related to rodents which are usually vegetarian or omnivorous, but only eat invertebrates, usually worms,slugs and snails. moles eat more earthworms than anything else but shrews over power anything smaller than themselves including other vertebrates such as small mice,reptiles and amphibians.

Copy of IMG_6247

Fox cubs also are leaving their parents at this time and they are very vulnerable to road traffic. I should imagine that two thirds of all fox cubs die within the first year. This cub was carrying a road killed rabbit when it was struck down. People talk so much rubbish about foxes, as well as other carnivores such as badgers.One very nasty lady has just in the past few days accused badgers of killing many lambs and stripping the carcasses leaving only skull and spine! well that seems more like big cat feeding to be honest. Badgers do not eat lambs or adult sheep but they eat worms and bluebell bulbs! hardly a carnivore !yet all these badger haters keep mouthing off lies about hem. They do not even spread bovine tb. All the hype about this subject is very wrong, immoral and must be stopped.

Foxes cannot over populate as most carnivores are self sustaining. Foxes only eat what is available to them, which is usually human waste in the form of food. without foxes,rats,mice and pigeons we would be knee deep in our own rubbish. without all these animals clearing up after us we would also get more disease so lets be grateful for these cleaner-uppers!


This pigeon was killed by a fledgling peregrine falcon. I have noticed this a lot between July and august when the falcons are learning to hunt they often make mistakes, or hit birds but cannot retrieve them as they are in the middle of town with cars and people. Falcons must be encouraged in all towns to keep down the feral pigeon populations and not be ridiculed by silly people who dont like seeing bits of birds under their nest sites.We must all learn to live with wild animals regardless, and be educated about them. We are always to blame.


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The British tarantula

The suborder of spiders known as mygalomorphae, comprise the so called tarantula spiders;a misnomer as there is only one true tarantula spider and it is a small member of the Alopecosa(tarentula), of which are several similar species. One of which was renown for biting people working in the field in Switzerland and Italy. If bitten by these small spiders people would traditionally dance the tarantella which sweated out the venom. The spider became a legend and after some people thought that the large bird eating spiders of tropical places must be this dangerous spider. well the so called bird eating spiders are not that dangerous and for their large size are some of the least venomous of all spiders. Mygalamorphs are actually primitive spiders in that they retain certain traits of other arachnids such as scorpions and harvesters by having two simple eyes and forward moving jaws(chelicerae),and two pairs of book lungs instead of one pair in more modern species. In northern Europe there are three representatives of this group.They belong to the genus of Atypus. Atypus affinis lives in Britain.

Copy of DSC05224

This is a male. The females are much larger especially the older specimens. they could possibly live for up to ten or exceptionally, twenty years of age, similar to most other members of the family. They are common on chalk downlands, or in this case lowland heath.Colonies can be very large. They are funnel web spiders and live in a long tube lined with special silk just below the ground surface, often around ant mounds.

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