2016 has been an eventful year around the wildlife meadow. After one of the wettest springs, we’ve experienced over many years. The weather improved, and nature went about its business catching up on lost time. Some species did seem to suffer Butterfly’s and Dragonfly did not seem in abundance has other years. Although in general we did record has many species as other years.
July I constructed a Skinners moth trap which was set up weather permitting on a nightly basis. I had always looked upon moths as second best to butterflies, what a shock I was in for to discover our beautiful many moths are. Nights trapping could produce up to a couple of hundred moths of many different specie groups. I would get up and out as early as possible to photograph the night’s catches before safely releasing them. Many of our visitors would also rise early to witness each night’s trappings before I recorded and released them. I’m still in a learning curb identifying the many different moth species we have in Norfolk. However, I’m looking forward to setting the Skinner's moth trap up again in 2017.
The most rewarding highlight of the year was the barn owl eventually nesting in the barn owl box we erected in the Oak tree on the far edge of the boundary of the wildlife meadow. It has taken about five years to attract the Barn owl to nest in the box. Other occupiers of the box have been Stock Doves and jack daws. Two Barn owl chicks were reared and fledged the nest successfully and were heard around the grounds calling for several months up to November. We live in hope that the barn owl will nest again in the box in 2017.
The strangest arrival was in August when we witnessed a Laughing Kookaburra Bird on-site for the weekend. Where it came from we do not know, certainly not all the way from Australia.
The common and mirror carp in the fishing lake are maturing nicely with many now reaching weights of around 20 lb.
The wildlife pond near the bird hind is looking good with the reeds and pond plants now established. We have witnessed seeing many common newts, dragonfly lava and many different pond insects throughout the year. Perhaps the frogs may make an appearance in 2017.
The record board I erected for visitors to display their wild life sightings seen around the grounds proved to be a success by the end of the season the board was crammed with all different names. I will be erecting a bigger board for 2017 with different sections for species groups, i.e. birds, mammals, insects, butterflies, etc.
We are clearing an area of around 100 m2 over the winter period near the Hilton Bug Hotel to plant a mixture of wild flower seeds for following for the 2017 season. This will further enhance the wildlife meadow and help attract further insect species we hope.
I do not fancy the task myself, but I would like to have some bee hives around the meadow if someone was looking for a suitable location to use?
We are hoping hedgehogs have hibernated in the hedgehog boxes (3) we erected in early summer. We do not feel like disturbing the boxes to see if they are occupied, but will monitor them from around early spring for signs of any activity. It will be rewarding if we can attract the hedgehogs to breed in them in 2017.
We have witnessed from November many flocks of Fieldfare feeding on berries from the bushes around the wildlife meadow. To-day I disturbed a Woodcock while strolling around the meadow, a winter visitor to our grounds.
The 2016 ‘Give Nature A Home’ features around the wildlife meadow was popular attraction for the wildlife and visitors staying on the caravan CL site. We are planning to add more ‘Give Nature Home’ features for 2017.