Saturday, 10 January 2015

2015 : Hedgehogs

2015 has blown itself in with a vengeance this January, despite this the temperature is very mild allowing for the odd freezing dip.  Working at Ness requires some stamina in the gales but certainly helps blow away any cobwebs left over from Christmas.  Infact it is great to get back out there.

Our first task is to install the newly purchased hedgehog homes ordered over Christmas. Over 90% of British hedgehogs have disappeared mainly the result of loss of habitat.  This is an appalling statistic that we must redress.  To start we have bought 3 shelters sponsored by The Natural Pet Centre in Heswall

Image by  Richard Steel

This aesthetic dome of which there are 2 will be hidden in the undergrowth and be undisturbed The one below is an observation unit so we can check on its occupation.  This will be placed away from the public areas as a reseach tool.

It is hoped over the next few years  that we will position more of these around the gardens.  (If anyone is interested in sponsoring a home please get intouch with a member of the Wilder-Ness  team.)

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Bright blue, crispy cold white

It is almost impossible to keep track of the weather this winter as it fluctuates almost on a daily basis.from very warm and mild peppered with freezing wind, rain and snow.  Fortunately for birds and wildlife none of it seems to last more than a couple of days.

Now is an excellent time to be watching where your feet go as much can be observed at ground level.  With so much rain water in the ground there is an abundance fungi.

Slowly but surely the Bee Hotel is being furnished with drilled dry logs and sweet smelling meadow straw. It is very heavy laborious work but will be worth the effort when completed.  In the meantime it is expected many small mammals will also move in with the bumblebees.

The project has generated considerable interest amongst our local traders and several have offered to supply needed items at trade prices to support the aims of 'Wilder-ness'
We will be adding there details at a later date.  At the moment their contact details are available in the 'Sights of Interest'  at the right-hand side of this blog. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Birds and more Birds at Ness

While the last leaves are falling from almost bare trees it is a great time for bird watching and listening as small and large groups collect together.  At Ness we are fortunate to be neighbours to woodland, coastline and marsh,  therefore the variety of species present is considerable and birdwatching very rewarding.

The most obvious presence is the Robin.  Almost every 10 yards you wander from one robins smallholding to another.  Both male and females sing to defend their patch during the winter months, subsequently there is a continuous orchestra of song throughout the gardens.

Unusually this year,  the second most obvious,  that is noisy presence around the gardens are large groups of chatty Fieldfares.  Last year we were lucky to see the odd one, this year they are present in large numbers.  These birds are very fickle about where they go, so this does not mean there will be so many next year. 

Fieldfares are the largest members of the thrush family and tend to congregate in fairly large social groups  Thrushes and Mistle Thrushes less so. They are the colourful members of the thrush family with  creamy speckled undersides and auburn red back and shoulders.

At Ness there is an abundance of Rowan trees and groups of them are feeding very noisily on the crops of berries. 

Starting in January the project will commence regular surveys of birds seen or  heard in the gardens so hopefully we will add to our species list as the months go by.

A Hen Harrier was spotted being mobbed by two crows this week.  Crows cannot stand anyone bigger than themselves so make quite a fuss when something wanders into sight. We might never notice the larger birds presence without the agitation of the crows. 

'Mammal-cam' mini-blitz

Over Christmas we will be setting up our latest bit of kit acquired by the project.  Mammals are notoriously difficult to observe and photograph in daylight never mind at dusk and during the night when most of them are active.

For this reason we have obtained an infra-red motion activated camera to set up at different positions around the Wilder-Ness  areas to monitor mammal activity over the Christmas period.  Throughout the year it will be placed in selected  mammal hot spots in the gardens to enable us to create a  proper record as to what we have living with us. 

With such an interesting variety of habitat within the gardens the recorded variety of mammals  may surprise us.

Saturday, 15 November 2014


This week we had very welcome help from Paul Quigley of Norton Priory in the delicate business of furnishing our Bee Hotel.  Although we know what we need to do the team are having considerable difficulty with wet wood. 
Even dried out, the core of the logs are still very damp and drilling holes is almost impossible.  Paul has visited Ness and has offered us tangible help in coping with the problems.  

how many many men does it take to look into a hole

Creating links with other like minded organisations is a key aim of the Wilder-Ness project and over the next year we hope to develope this aspect considerably.


This week also saw our first 'Miniblitz'.  Tony Parker of Liverpool Museum came and laid humane traps overnight to check out the Harvest Mouse presence at Ness. These traps consist of a tunnel leading to a nest filled with bedding material and food.

The following morning the team including two very enthusiastic students from Hope University, Tracy and Jasmine, came to check, empty and retrieve the traps.  Of 32 traps set we managed to catch 4 woodmice and one vole that bit, understandably, Tony as it was let loose.