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Showing posts from March, 2013

Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

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Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), a photo by Peter Orchard on Flickr. What can I tell you about the hedgehog that you will not already know? One of our best known and most loved of animals, most of us will have been familiar with the hedgehog from our earliest days. When I was young Rag, Tag and Bobtail were 'big' on children's TV , Rag was the hedgehog!

Nowhere near as common as they once were I rarely see one these days. Quite often we see their 'calling card' on the lawn but that is about it.

They were also once frequently seen squashed on the road but that does not seem so frequent these days either.

One of only two true hibernating mammals in the UK (the other is the dormouse) they emerge from their deep sleep in early spring and are desperate for food. Normally nocturnal, when they first wake up they can be seen by day, just like this one, rummaging around for something to eat, especially after rain.

The gardeners friend, they consume vast numbers of slugs and snail…

The Trailway, Stourpaine, Dorset

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The Trailway, Stourpaine, Dorset, a photo by Peter Orchard on Flickr. One of the railway lines closed in the early 1960 period was the Someset and Dorset railway which ran from Bath to Bournemouth through Sturminster Newton and on to Blandford and beyond. The rails were taken up as salvageable material buy the course of the track remained and in recent years has been recovered and improved to make a long distance footpath and cycle route known now as the Trailway. It is till work in progress but there as a substantial amount now accessible and part of that is at Stourpaine.

Mid March in cold weather is possibly not the best time to see it but it has the advantage of being dry, easy walking in pleasant surroundings. Later in the year it will be very good for flowers and insects so another visit to do some further recording will be needed.

I hestitate to recommend pubs as tastes differ but we parked in the White Horse car park at Stourpaine, popped in and booked a table for lunch and then …

Dog Lichen (Peltigera canina)

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Dog Lichen (Peltigera canina), a photo by Peter Orchard on Flickr. My book says this is a very common lichen found on walls, on rocks, on soil and amongst grass, even on lawns and sand dunes. That may be the case but in five years of looking I have only encountered it twice (so far!) It is a large foliose lichen, that is to say, the main body of the lichen, the thallus, are a bit like leaves.

You may be wondering why this is called dog lichen? Even if you are not I will tell you anyway as I went to a lot of trouble to find out! In amongst the leafy bits are root-like structures that resemble dogs teeth. Because of this it was used as a potential cure for rabies but, of course, it did not work. Early chemists thought that if things looked alike then may be they were connected no matter have far apart they are biologically!

Find out more about dog lichen here:
http://www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species/lichen-p-canina

Bestwall and Swineham, Wareham

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Bestwall and Swineham, Wareham, a photo by Peter Orchard on Flickr. One days time a bitter easterly wind would not have kept me indoors but these days it is a sure fire way to running eyes, breathlessness and bad temper! So, after two weeks of cold winds and grey skies today was an opportunity not to be missed and this afternoon we headed for one of our favourite local walks that we do when we do not have time to go much further afield, from Wareham past the gravel pits and out to Swineham point.

Not a lot to see today, and the path quite muddy in places, but a joy to be out again and it is just so peaceful at Swineham Point as you are so far away from the nearest road there is no sound of traffic and in winter you are spared the chugging of boat engines too!

I have done this walk many times but I never ceased to be amazed by the lichens, they cover every available branch and twig in places.

Find out more about Bestwell and Swineham here:
<a href="http://www.natureofdorset.co.uk/d…

Brands Bay: Poole Harbour

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Brands Bay: Poole Harbour, a photo by Peter Orchard on Flickr. Much of the Purbeck shore line of Poole Harbour is sadly not openly accessible to the public but in the south eastern corner there is National Trust land that gives access to a part of it known as Brands Bay. At low tide this gives good views across the mud flats of the harbour and is a good spot for waders and wildfowl in general however, it seems that every time I go there the tide is in so my species list is not that good (yet).

You can access Brands Bay from anywhere along the Studland Road near the Sandbanks Ferry. It lies to the west of the road of course and you can park along the roadside (although it is pretty busy in summer) and there are various paths across the heath to the shoreline. There are no footpaths as such but it is open access land and there are well worn paths you can follow although it can be rough going in places and becomes quite wet in winter.

On a clear day the views across the harbour are lovely b…