Not common but Comma.

comma There have very few butterflies around this year although Meadow Browns have been present in good numbers. This Comma however made for a nice sight down at Goldcliff this week. I always like seeing the strange wing edges which always looks like they have been in a fight with a bird.

A sad farewell!

Last month we were devastated to hear the sad news that Vladimir, the male Siberian Tiger at Dartmoor Zoological Park had sadly died. Vladimir was the last remaining Tiger actually born at DZP who I had been fortunate enough to have seen growing up from a cub.

Dartmoor Zoological Park in Sparkwell Devon is owned by Benjamin Mee, who has been running the zoo for the last 10 years and is doing remarkable work for research, conservation and education. In fact the film ‘We Bought A Zoo’ starring Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansen was based on the true story around the taking over of DZP by Benjamin.
Sadly the number of Tigers has decreased over the last 100 years from hundreds of thousands to between 3000 & 5000. Of these it is estimated that only 400 to 500 are living in the wild which is why it so vitally important to carry on the conservation work to make sure the Tiger lives on!

Siberian tigers are the largest of their species and yes it is true, their skin is also striped under their fur! No two Tigers will have the same stripes, just like human fingerprints.

We were so lucky to get so close to Vlad on our last visit while the keepers cleaned his enclosure…what a magnificent animal. Vladimir, like his late sisters Blotch and Stripe were amazing animals and I was delighted to have seen all three of them turning from cubs into magnificent creatures. In the early days before their enclosure was altered and the new fencing added, I was sat next to the fence stroking Vlad’s side through the meshing when he suddenly got to his feet, turned and then ‘squirted’ me. This is a warning sign from Tigers and marks their territory and is a reminder that he had wild instincts still inside his heart, but an experience that has stayed with me forever. Not many people can say they have been squirted by a Tiger!.

Vladimir was born in 2001 and along with his late sisters marks the end of a truly magnificent era for the three wonderful Tigers I came to admire and love, from cubs to fully grown majestic adults. I have been visiting DZP every year sometimes several times a year since they were born and feel privileged to have known them, got so close to them and to enjoy the wonderful moments they have given me.

Vladimir along with his sisters Stripe and Blotch made such a big impact in our lives…. They will be greatly missed but never forgotten. They really have left a paw print on my heart.

SLOEly ripening!

sloes These beautiful Sloe berries are ripening nicely at the moment and will be used by some people for making Sloe Gin and for the birds they make a welcome autumn feast.
Also of note this week were the Cinnabar Moths feeding away on Ragwort. I really love these little caterpillars. ragwort

Positive feedback.

It is always nice to receive positive feedback and comments, and the below are some from members of a guided walk I did on July 1st for the SAMYE Foundation Wales along the Cefn Onn Ridge.

“I found the walk very enjoyable and really interesting. It was not too strenuous and we stopped several times to hear interesting facts about the landscape and various species. I would highly recommend this walk and I am looking forward to the next one.” Jan

“Just to let you know, Chris (hubby) & myself really enjoyed our walk on Cefn Onn Ridge. We are cardiff born but have never realised how near this route is. How beautiful the ancient woodland is and the wonderful variety of flora & fauna that grows there.

Neville is cheerful and very informative, e.g. on foraging edible plants, identifying the large variety of birds and birdsong and his knowledge of the surrounding area generally. Will definitely return to experience again.” M Hudson


hawkYou have to admire the large yellow eye and expression of this female Sparrowhawk that is visiting our garden today and luckily for the birds on the feeders, not having any success.