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Still On The Wing

Red Admiral on Fatsia Japonica x Ivy

Still On The Wing

A sunny, late November day in the gardens of Firespark Records and Studios. It’s only 9°C but there are butterflies on the wing! Three red admirals emerge from their winter roost, in the nearby fir, to feed on the flowers of this ivy tree (x Fatshedera lizei), soaking up the sun for the few, brief hours that it’s autumnal rays now fall across the garden. Are these the last butterflies that I will see before winter sets in? Perhaps. There may not be any more sunny days while nectar sources are still available for them to leave their roosts again. But if the sun is shining, wherever you are, keep your eyes peeled for dancing wings! You can help citizen science by recording your sighting with Butterfly Conservation UK. This is my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. Good luck everyone!

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Living Lawnmowers

Living Lawnmowers at Heather Farm Wetlands Centre

Living Lawnmowers

I went for a short walk with the hubby at Heather Farm yesterday to capture the fabulous skies over the Autumnal landscape for today’s Fotospeed challenge. I actually ended up with added extras to the scene that I had had in mind! The Horsell Common Preservation Society (HCPS) is based at the Heather Farm Wetland Centre near Woking in Surrey. You can see the building that they use, alongside the cafe, at the back of the landscape within my photo. The Society’s landholdings include 916 acres of high forest, woodland, meadows and lowland heath that form a part of the internationally important Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. Heather Farm riverside meadows and wetlands were developed as a SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace), which provides a less fragile landscape for people to enjoy walking through. Part of the site is now a much loved dog walking route. Dogs also receive a warm welcome, water, biscuits and towels at the Water’s Edge cafe! Owners are being asked to be extra careful with their four-legged friends at the moment. Within the fenced-off wetland area, Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep are grazing the grasslands as part of the natural land management and conservation work done by HCPS. Larger areas of grassland within the common are grazed by Aberdeen Angus cattle. These living lawnmowers are the most natural, environmentally friendly way to manage grasses and scrub, maintaining the habitat for a large variety of wildlife. They’re also really very attractive sheep to see! On Saturday the ewes got to meet a rather important new member of this little flock. His name is Hector and you can see him just off-centre in my image. Once all the ewes have fallen pregnant this winter, the farmer who owns them will collect them from the site, so they can lamb safely in the Spring. For now they seem to be greatly enjoying their job and visitors are definitely enjoying them!

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Blue Monday: Caught In The Light

Blue Tit in bright autumn light

Blue Monday: Caught In The Light

A pretty blue tit, caught in the bright light of a chilly autumn afternoon, at RHS Wisley Gardens yesterday, for this week’s Fotospeed challenge.

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Scottish Wildcat – At Threat Of Extinction

Female Scottish Wildcat

Scottish Wildcat – At Threat Of Extinction

It’s very hard for researchers to know the exact number of these amazing cats left wild in Scotland, as they have hybridised with feral domestic-cat populations over the years. It is estimated that there are now perhaps only thirty five true wildcats left and they are at imminent threat of extinction. It breaks my heart! This beautiful female and her three kittens live at the British Wildlife Centre, near Godstone, in Surrey. Such a great place! I visited last week with my friend Nikki and godchildren, Rosie and James. Rosie loves all cats and the wildcats hold a special place in her heart too. It was wonderful to explore our native wildlife with them, whilst giving young James another photography tutorial! I have a few images of some of the other residents, but the wildcat topped my Twitter poll for what people wanted to see for today’s Wex Mondays challenge. I’m very glad to share a bit of their story with you, but for more information please visit the British Wildlife Centre wildcat page here. The centre does some wonderful work in conservation, rescue & rehabilitation and in education. It’s well worth a visit and I would really encourage everybody to support the amazing work that they do!