Monday, 16 November 2009

A quiet day on the Ock

No buzzards or kites overhead, no plopping water voles or quacking mallards - not even an ubiquitous moorhen, just a somewhat melancholic day.


Sunday, 8 November 2009


I have suspected badgers in the vicinity of south Abingdon for nearly two years. There have been particular clues - footprints, paths through fields and under fences could only be made by badgers

After many nights and evenings of staking possible locations over several months, I have at last managed at last to capture one on film.  Possibly the recent weather has made it easier for it to find its favourite foods of slugs, snails and worms.

The Collins Complete British Wildlife Guide describes badgers as “common but unobtrusive and largely nocturnal”, despite this, this is only the third badger I've ever seen.

The subject of  Bovine Tuberculosis is controversial, but is mainly arable farming, so these are unlikely to cause any harm. 

I have notified the Oxfordshire Badger group, but if there are other groups who would be interested please let me know.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Rat-tailed Maggots

A few months ago we decided to build a wildlife pond in our back garden and already wildlife has started to move in. From the goldfinches and sparrows who drink and bathe in it, to the almost microscopic mites that swim around.  
However, I have recently noticed an abundance of a new species....

Having posted the pictures on the Wild About Britain Forum, they have been identified as Rat-tailed Maggots, the larvae stage of the Hoverfly (Eristalis tenax), also known as Drone-fly.
A quick search of the internet reveals some fascinating facts about the creature:
The part that looks like a tail is actually a breathing tube acting as a type of snorkel, although it does seem to be used for manoeuvring.  Apparently they can reproduce 'paedogenetically', where the larvae themselves produce more offspring without having to become adults - which may explain the sudden abundance of them in the pond.
They also prefer  oxygen-deprived water, with a high organic content (or 'foul' as English Nature would describe it), this may suggest the pond is not in good health...

When this larvae stage has completed it will pupate out of the water and then turn into one of these splendid insects: 

Picture by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos and is reproduced under the GNU Free Documentation License

Wild About Britain Forum:
North Carolina State University: