Dorset Panda

The European Badger or also known as the Dorset Panda is one of the most widespread animals in Britain. I was able to follow this juvenile badger while it was out foraging one drizzly morning. Just to add to my amazement the badger discovers a deceased pidgen and decides to enjoy a little play time with an afternoon snack.

 

 

Badger Infomation

Badgers are part of the Mustelidae family the same family as otters, ferret, polecats and weasels.

Length: Adults are usually between 70 and 100 cm (2/3 ft) long.

Weight: Weight varies according to the seasons. Adults are usually between 6 – 7 kg in summer and 12 – 14 kg in the winter.

Food: Badgers are omnivores. They feed on a wide variety of plants and animals.

Lifespan: The oldest known wild badger lived to be 14 years old, however only a few will ever exceed 7-8 years of age in the wild.

Brown Hare

Out hiking along an old farm track one afternoon this hare comes around the corner and starts approaching me. In my amazement quickly grabbing my camera, I managed to capture these photographs as it stops to nibble on some bramble bush shoots and then casually running pass me as if nothing in the world mattered.

 

 

Hare Infomation

Brown hares were introduced during Iron Age and are widespread throughout England and Wales. Brown hares live in a variety of habitats .They rely on acute senses and being able to run upto speeds of 45 mph to escape predators. Hares do not use burrows but instead they make a small depression on the ground known as a form.

Length: Adults Hare is about 70cm in length.

Weight: Average 3 – 4kg

Food: Feeding on grass shoots and other plants, cereals & crops.

Lifespan: Hares normally live to 3 – 4 years.

Reproduction: The breeding season starts from January to August. The females nests in a depression on the surface of the ground rather than in a burrow. The young are active as soon as they are born. Litters may consist of three or four young and a female can produce three litters a year.

Red Fox

The Fox is soon becoming one of the most elusive animals in the countryside. I was truly lucky enough to discover this young Vixen while she was out searching for an afternoon snack one afternoon.

Red Fox Infomation

Foxes live all around the world in many diverse habitats including forests, grasslands, mountains, and deserts. They also adapt  well to human environments such as citys and towns.  The red fox’s resourcefulness has really earned it a legendary reputation for intelligence and cunning.

Length: Adults Fox 90cm with a tail up to 60cm

Weight: Average:  2.2 – 14 kg

Food: Foxes are omnivore and their diet includes fruits, berries, grasses, birds, small mammals, rabbits and mice. But the large part of the red fox’s diet is made up with invertebrates like crickets, caterpillars, grasshoppers and  beetles.

Lifespan: 2 – 5 years (In the wild)

Reproduction: Breeding season varies from region to region but usually begins in December or January here down in the south. After foxes mate they can stay physically attached in a sexual position for up to an hour. This is known as the “copulatory tie”. A male and female fox usually pair for life. The vixen typically gives birth to a litter of 2 to 12 pups.

Deer

There are six species of deer survivng in the British countryside. Red deer and roe deer are the only truly indigenous species. Fallow deer were almost certainly introduced by the Normans while three other species, Reeves’ muntjac, Chinese water deer and sika deer arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

 

 

Deer Infomation

As you can see from the photos we have a good popultaion of white deer here in West Dorset. Seeing this in the countryside really is a powerful and beautiful sight to see.

Length: Adult male fallow deer (bucks) are generally 84 – 94 cm at the shoulder and Females are 73 – 91cm at the shoulder.

Weight: 35 – 94kg

Food: Grass and shoots, plants, cereals & crops.

Lifespan: 8 – 10 years

Adder

The Adder is the UK’s only venomous snake and is often given a bad reputation because of this. These beautiful snakes really do live a very secretive life. With its hypotonic zig-zag camouflage they simply go unnoticed in the undergrowth making this one of the most elusive reptiles to find and photograph.

Adder Infomation

Females are usually brown with darker brown markings and the Males are usually grey with black marking. Adders can often found in a variety of habitats from meadows, woodland, sunny clearings, hedgerows, coastal areas and stone quarries.

Length: Adults usually grow to 60 cm (24 in) in length with an average size of 55 cm (22 in).

Weight: Adults are usually 50 – 100g

Food: Adders will feed mostly on small mammals, lizards, birds and frogs. Once they have identified their prey they will strike injecting a dose of venom and quickly releasing from its prey so it will not be attacked. Once bitten the prey will wander off to its death where this amazing reptile will use its senses to track down its meal.

Lifespan:  They can live for up to 15 years in the wild.

Reproduction: Adders reach sexual maturity between 3 and 4 years of age. During the warmer spring days the male adders will actively search for females by picking up pheromones in the air. Females will give birth to live young. The gestation period is about three to four months. Adders typically give birth to 3 – 12 babies which will be completely independent and ready to go soon after birth.

Grass Snake

The Grass Snake is the UK's most common and widespread of the three native snakes species. This stunning reptile is sometimes called the ringed snake or the water snake and is a non venomous species. From my own experiences interacting with these amazing snakes, I find them extremely docile. I do not recommend anyone to touch or handle these snakes unless you have previous experience working with reptiles or shown how. If they feel threatened they will excrete a fluid that really stinks and smells like old library books and onions!!

 

 

Grass Snake  Infomation

Grass Snakes are carnivores and will feed on many different kinds of amphibians like frogs, toads, newts, small fish, mammals and even birds.

These snakes are active predators and for any unfortunate tasty treat that gets in its way will be swallowed usually alive and in one go.

Length:  Females are grow up to 2 meters in lenght but on average reach 90 – 110 cm while the Males will grow to 80cm with an average size of 60cm.

Weight: Adults from 100 – 240g

 Lifespan: 15 – 25 years
 
 
Reproduction: Adults will emerge from hibernation during March and April where mating takes place. Grass Snakes are the UK’s only egg-laying snake. Eggs will usually be laid in June and July in rotting vegetation which acts as an incubator. The eggs hatch in late summer to tiny miniature versions of the adults like in the last pictures on the right. The rest of the year is spent preparing for winter and going back into hibernation between November and March.
 

Common Lizard

The Common lizard is the UK's most widespread reptile of them all and a real delight to see. These lizard are most likley to be seen on commons, heaths, moorland, woodlands and coastal areas.

Common Lizard Infomation

The common or viviparous lizard is one of three lizard species that are found all over the UK. Their scales and colours  range from brown, grey, yellows and green. These lizards do live on the ground but can also be seen climbing tree, rocks, logs and on most vegetation so keep your eyes out for these during March to October when they are most active.

Length: 10 – 15cm

Weight: 5 – 10g

Food: They will feed on small insects, spiders and snails. The lizard will shake its prey to death in its jaws before chewing and swallowing it whole.

Lifespan:  5 – 6 years

Reproduction: They mate in April to May depending on the seasons and the young develop for three months inside the female. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of two with the females at three to four years of age. Also these lizards will often hibernate in groups from November and March.

Wall Lizards

Wall Lizards get their name as described from its preferred habitat of walls, rocks and boulders. I was lucky enough to be showen an active breeding group at a location on the isle of Portland. These are not a native species to the UK and have been introduced from mainland Europe.

Wall Lizard Infomation

The Wall Lizard will eat a wide range of insects and other invertebrates and will often be seen hunting during the day time hours. They are extremely fast and can effortlessly run up vertical walls and rock faces in a blink of an eye.

Length: Adults up to 15 – 20 cm in length.

Weight: 5 – 20g

 Lifespan:  5 to 10 years
 
Reproduction: Breeding season starts in Spring and after a period of 4-6 weeks 2 to 6 eggs will be laid. When the young hatch they usually start feeding within the first 24 hours.

Slow Worm

The slow worm is not either a worm or a snake but a legless lizard and can be seen throughout mainland Britain are most common in Wales and south of England.

Slow Worm  Infomation

Unlike our other reptiles slow worms will rarely bask in the open and often preferring to hide under logs and other lower vegetation.

Length: 40 – 50cm

Weight: 20 – 100g

Food: Slow worms feed on slow moving prey such as slugs, snails, some spiders, insects and earthworms.

Lifespan: 20 years

Reproduction:  Rather than laying eggs the female slow worm gives birth to live young. A newborn slow worm is about 5 – 10 cm in length and will take  upto 6-8 years to reach its full adult size.

Water Rail

The Water Rail really is a secretive little water bird and only ever seen coming out from the protection of reeds when searching for food. This was the first time I have ever seen one out in the open along a section of the river bank on the Asker near Bridport.

It has a chestnut brown and black upper part with a grey face and black-and-white barred flanks, and a long red orange ish bill.

 

Water Rail Infomation

Food: The water rail is an omnivorous bird and feeds on plant matter, insects, fish and small invertebrates such as snails.

Length: Adults up to 23-28cm cm in length.

Weight: 80 – 180g

 Lifespan:  5 to 10 years
 

Fulmar

Walking along a section of the Jurassic Coast from Ringstead bay to the White Nothe, I managed to capture these photos of an impressive coastal Birds.

Fulmar  Infomation

Fulmars look very similar to Sea gulls. They fly with straighter and stiffer wings have white heads and underside, Grey wings and grey to yellow beaks and are in fact related to the Albatross.

Length: 44-50cm

Wingspan: 1m

Weight: 700-900g

Lifespan: 40+  years

Food: Fulmars will eat almost anything from the sea like small fish, squid, shrimps, plankton, jellyfish and even carrison.

Reproduction:  They are monogamous and the pairs will often return to the same nesting location every year. Breeding season begins in May. The females are able to store sperm in specialized glands and will not become pregnant for a number of weeks after breeding. Fulmars will create their nests on cliff sides and edges.

Herring Gull

These coastal birds are definitely one of my favorites with a huge attitude and larger than life characters they really are fun to watch.

Herring Gull Infomation

 Gulls are large and very noisy. They are found throughout the year on our coasts and often seen inland around farms, rubbish tips, fields, reservoirs and lakes.

Food: If you have ever visited a sea side town you will soon notice that these Gulls are like rubbish bins and often will steal your chips and ice cream from your hands. They are in fact  Ominivorous eating anything from fish, carrion, young birds, eggs, small mammals, insects, seeds and fruits.

Length: 50 to 60cm in  length

Wingspan: 130 – 150cm

Weight: 600 – 1440g

 Lifespan:  15 to 30+  years
 

Egret

This little Egret is often found on along the River Asker in Bridport. Usually very timid this bird has a great tolerance to people making it great to sit and observe its natural behaviour.

Little Egret  Infomation

The little egret is a small white heron with attractive white feathers black legs and bill with yellow feet. It first appeared in the UK in with numbers in 1989 and first bred here in Dorset in 1996.

Length: 50 – 65cm

Wingspan: 88 – 95cm

Weight: 300 – 600g

Lifespan: 22+  years

Food: Fish, amphibians, small reptiles, mammals, birds, crustaceans, insects, spiders and worms.

.

 

Kingfisher

One of the most elusive little beautiful birds ever to be seen long the river. Usually they are so fast you will only get to hear the beep beep and see a blue flash as they dart by.

 

Kingfisher Infomation

The Kingfisher is a colourful bird of rivers and streams. It can be spotted sitting quietly on low-hanging branches or in this case a  barbed wire fence over the water. The striking mix of its bright-blue back, metallic copper breast makes the Kingfisher unmistakable. Males have an entirely black bill, females have an orangey-red patch at the base.
 
 

Length: 15 – 17 cm

Wingspan: 24 – 26cm

Weight: 30 – 50g

Lifespan: 2 – 7 years

Food: Kingfishers feed on a wide variety of prey and are most famous for hunting fish but they will also eat frogs, spiders, insects and worms.