Local Wildlife Stories 2014

Click here for the 2013 wildlife stories

An enthusiastic and hard working group from Wildlife in Ascot were rewarded with a beautiful day and some tasty bacon rolls when they came along to work on improving our North Ascot green corridor of Blythewood Lane at the end of November.

Left. An old dustbin was found which was cut in half, partially buried then covered with leaves to provide two hibernation sites.

We have contacted RBWM to ensure wildlife access is provided into the new Furlong Drive estate (off Burleigh Road).

Litter posing a hazard to wildlife was removed; old bricks and stones were used to make rocky habitats for amphibians; wood was buried and piled above ground for beetles and twigs and leaves were gathered to create possible hibernation sites for hedgehogs. Some openings were cleared under fences into quiet corners of adjoining gardens but we need to encourage more people to create access.

We enjoyed meeting a bat on International Bat Night, 30th August at Silwood Park. Bat expert Stacey Waring brought in one of her rescue bats she looks after which cannot be released into the wild. It was fascinating to be able to see a bat up close and to hold one - such soft fur. Stacey gave us a very interesting talk about the life and needs of bats. She then showed us how the bat detectors work, before we ventured out into dusk to look for some. It was a bit inclement for bats - maybe too late in the year here in the UK for a good turnout on International Bat Night. However we were rewarded by several sightings over the lake and near the Silwood buildings with quite a few blips on the detectors in the woods in between. Thank you to Stacey for making it such an interesting and enjoyable evening.

We are fortunate that stag beetles (Lucanus cervus) live in our area. With greatly reduced numbers across the UK and a European wide protection programme, the presence of Stag Beetles here is important to their survival. Stag Beetles can be encouraged in every garden which is where they are most commonly found. Thanks to Deborah Harvey, who is based at Royal Holloway, we learnt about their life cycle including video clips and she brought along two young male beetles to meet us on 25th May. Male stag beetles are about 50mm long and have "antlers" unlike the smaller (up to 30mm) lesser stag beetle which is more easily confused with the female stag beetle.

Right. Wood and a "stag beetle bucket" were buried for beetles.

stag beetle larva female photographed by Dan Tunstall Pedoe (2005)

Stag beetles need buried rotting wood, so the tidy gardener who digs out old tree stumps destroys their habitat. Specially prepared buckets can be buried in gardens to attract and detect stag beetles. Please contact us if you would like one as we have spare pre-drilled buckets and wood chip. Read more about this programme here. Deborah also told us that you can also entice stag beetles to reveal themselves with a piece of mango or avocado or with ginger - the result of much research.

The Stag Beetle is a gentle giant of the insect world. Despite a reputation for summoning thunder and lightning, the male Stag Beetle is harmless. They may look scary to some people but their large jaws are only used to wrestle with other males and their bite is too weak to hurt you. Stag Beetles have a long life cycle of up to seven years (most of it spent as larva), read more about it here. The leaflet is attached as a file at the bottom of this page.

Thanks to Helen and Richard for identifying birdsong on our dawn chorus walk on 11th May. The group assembled as the first blackbird sang despite the wind and clouds and dawn being so horribly early in May. We were richly rewarded, firstly by not being rained on(!) and by hearing and/or seeing over 30 species of bird including goldcrest and a firecrest (heard not seen). We also walked through a lovely bluebell wood, saw a couple of roe deer and the Silwood peacocks. Not to mention our continental breakfast!

An intrepid group were not to be deterred by the accurate forecast of rain on 26th January and went bird-watching at Moor Green Lakes. The original plan was to spot raptors and although we saw one Red Kite (heading for shelter probably!) we focussed on the water birds and spent a while in the hide observing the varied bird life on the lake. Thanks to Helen and Colin for bringing their scopes so that we could see the birds in detail.

We then made the short walk down to the river and along to look across the gravel workings before heading back to our cars. We saw a range of birds on the water including a Goosander and around the bird feeding station including a Reed Bunting.

Below is the list of birds seen: