Saturday, 31 March 2012

Maybe Next Time?

After around 3hrs of tracking in an area where I knew there were wild boar, I finally found them.
I hadn't seen or heard a single person and felt great as I managed to get into a fantastic position to grab some good shots.
Focusing on a open area where the sun was dappled on the forest floor as it cut through the trees, all I needed was for the boar to move into this area. This is where patience comes in as it is so easy to push to get close, which usually ends up with the wildlife being disturbed and you then miss your chance. It can take a while, but being patient usually gets you better results.
Then I heard voices in the distance and I was praying that they weren't coming my way, but they were. Out of the whole forest, two guys had decided to walk directly where I was camped out; I couldn't believe it!
I could picture the shots I was about to get, but instead all I ended up with was these.

This is the moment she heard them and rallied her young.

Then they disappeared into a dense part of the forest.

Talk about gutted, but that's how it goes sometimes. The sow was by far one of the largest I have seen for a few years and she would have made a great photograph; along with her little ones. I will find them again and hopefully I/we won't be disturbed next time.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Cinderford Northern Arc Development = Disaster for Wildlife!

This is of great importance to all local people and also to those who care for our habitats and wildlife. I advise you to read carefully and do whatever you can to help.

When you read or hear the name Ark, what do you think of? Maybe a guy called Noah who helped save all living creatures of this planet.
Well there is another Ark on its way, but this time it is not coming to save and protect; instead it is coming to disturb and destroy!

If the Cinderford Northern Arc Project gets the green light its footprint will cause unimaginable, untold damage to the proposed area at Steam Mills, near Cinderford. An area that supports key habitat to many endangered species, including Red List species.
I have personally seen many of the very rare and endangered species at this site and the few, which I haven't seen have been recorded by trusted sources, like the Forest Green Team who recorded an otter as far back as 2007.
Due to (c) laws, I can not show you a photograph I obtained from the FoDDC, detailing the vast area that is to be developed. However, I can tell you that it is massive and will see a road cutting right through the forest and it will also see an area that is rich in undisturbed wildlife destroyed!
I can give you the location on Google Maps - Click Here

The main development site around Steam Mills Lake supports a varied and healthy abundance of rare wildlife and I can't think of another site throughout the Forest of Dean, which is richer in varied wildlife.
Some of the wildlife in this area is on the Red List for protection and the majority of these species "HAVE" been recorded during area surveys; authorised and carried out by professionals for the Regeneration Board.

To name just a few, this site supports....

Lesser Horseshoe Bat
Greater Horseshoe Bat
Great Crested Newt
Water Vole

One species named above, which was not recorded in the surveys is the Hawfinch. This bird is so rare and endangered in the UK that only 5,000 breeding pairs are present throughout the whole country. This bird is on the Red List and its conservation Status is as follows.

• Globally threatened
• Historical population decline in UK during 1800–1995
• Severe (at least 50%) decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years, or longer-term period (the entire period used for assessments since the first BoCC review, starting in 1969).
• Severe (at least 50%) contraction of UK breeding range over last 25 years, or the longer-term period

The Hawfinch has been ringed at this site for many years and the Forestry Commission are aware of this, so I can't see how this has been overlooked.
With rare bats, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and insects present at this site; I am stunned that they are still going ahead with their plans to bulldoze right through the middle of it!
The area is also very popular with fishermen and dog walkers; all of whom will lose the area if these plans go ahead.

To see a full list of identified wildlife species found during the surveys click below.
Click here for the results from the Field Survey

The "Spine Road" will cut through the forest leaving a part of the forest isolated between the Spine Road and Steam Mills/Hawkwell. I have asked the question "what guarantees do we have that this isolated woodland "will not" also be developed in the years to come?"
I didn't get a reply to that one!

Encroachment will see even more habitats and wildlife suffer and where will it stop?

I agree that Cinderford requires regeneration as it is staring to become a ghost town, but I can't see how developing an area so far out of the actual town will help. Maybe they should look at the "actual town" and inject some much needed revenue there before creating another "Mini-Cinderford" on the outskirts.

I sincerely hope that this isn't happening so that certain people can retire and leave their legacy behind. One legacy, which would be appreciated and which would always be recognised, is if this area along with the rest of our most valuable asset was protected and preserved.
I know which one I would want to be remembered for!

Some links below.

Cinderford Area Action Plan - Evidence Base

Take a look at the photograph on the front of THIS REPORT. It may not look like this for very much longer!

A Recent Article - HERE

(Just something personal from me)

It wasn't very long ago that the HooF campaign fought to save OUR forests and yet this seems to be the exact thing they were trying to prevent. I wonder why this seems to have been accepted? Lets face it, if other areas are encroached upon like this, throughout the Forest of Dean area, then the fight to safeguard our forest will have been for nothing!

Why not turn this area into a nature reserve as this will help bring tourists into the area. People do not visit the Forest of Dean just to stay in a hotel, they visit to walk our forest and to hopefully see the wildlife therein. The Forest is our most valuable asset.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A Trip Down South!

Along with a good friend (who was driving) I endured horrendous traffic, which meant it took four hours to reach our destination in Dorset and with heavy fog most of the way it appeared that we would probably be travelling back without the photographs we were after.
However, optimistic as always and nearing our location the sun broke through the fog and it turned into the perfect day for the rare reptile species we were after; the Sand Lizard!

NOTE: The Sand Lizard is protected under, Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (1994), and Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

With the help of some very trusting and friendly locals, it was only a few minuets before I was face to face with my first sand lizard. I must admit that I was shocked to have found one so quickly, but without the help of our local friends it would have taken a lot longer as they are so well camouflaged.

First find!

This was great, except it was not the best of shots due to the bush it was basking under, so we moved on.
I had never seen a sand lizard in the wild before, so as far as I was concerned this was about as good as it was going to get. How wrong I was as just around the corner our luck changed!

This fella was out in the open making the most of the blazing sun!

There were at least six lizards in one location and it was hard picking one to photograph.

The one thing that astounded me was the fact that they were all very curious and even came up to the camera!
The sand lizard, as mentioned above, is very rare and also extremely protected so the last thing I wanted to do was to disturb them. This concerned me on the way to Dorset, but I was gobsmacked at how relaxed these lizards were with our presence.

It's always nice to get two different species in one shot, but when I got up on this morning I couldn't of imagined that I would be photographing a sand lizard, with a ladybird walking around next to him!

We left this site and headed out onto some heathland where we saw a nice male adder. I missed this opportunity, but something even more special was just around the corner.
A male sand lizard!

We left the locals and headed to another spot where there was a chance of photographing another species, which I had not captured previously; Sika Deer.

Not knowing what to expect and ready for the stalk I followed my friend to some open grassy areas, surrounded by woodland. Now these deer are wild, they are not on an estate, or privately owned, so I was again wondering if we were going to succeed!
We spotted some on the edge of the woodland in the grassy area and proceeded to crawl towards them.

I photographed this fella at ground level and the blur in the foreground is grass.

At this point we were almost in the middle of the grassy area when a hind walked up to check us out!

Then two young stags started squaring up to one another!

As you can imagine, I took quite a few pics of these deer, but we still had one more place to visit before we left. The coast.

I'm not the best when it come to identifying birds, so if I have some of these wrong please let me know and I will correct.
And please note: Photo's taken from cliff top!

Bar-Tailed Godwit

Black-Headed Gull

Black-Winged Stilt

Little Egret

Not bad for 5 hours work!