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British Wildlife
The majestic Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest bird reaching speeds of upto 200 mph. In fact this falcon is thought to be the fastest organism within the animal kingdom. These beautiful killing machines can migrate upto 1,000 miles in winter, moving to warmer climates. There are actually very few places that Peregrine Falcons don’t live. With this natural range being stated they also have a wide range of habitat preferences ranging from mountains and deserts to wetlands and urban areas Fast moving prey is what the Peregrine Falcon specialises in, capturing birds mid flight. This makes upto 90% of an individuals diet
Peregrine Falcon
Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle is a large majestic bird known for being one of the world’s most efficient avian predators. They have excellent eyesight and is able to fly at approximately 150 mph, making it one of the fastest animals in the world The Golden Eagle can be found across the northern hemisphere, however has a more patchy distribution in Europe. In Europe they are only found at the most northern and southern regions, including northern Scotland. They are primarily found in mountain ranges and in relatively undisturbed forests. As a raptor, the Golden Eagle is a carnivore feeding on; rabbits, other birds, reptiles and fish
Sparrowhawk
The sparrowhawk has short rounded wings and a long slender tail to help with quick acceleration and excellent maneuverability whilst in flight. These birds are prey are distinguishable by their brown barred pattern on the underpart of the body The diet of male sparrowhawk consists of small birds such as sparrows and great tits. Females are larger and can eat larger prey such as starlings and even on occasion woodpigeons. Sparrows are also opportunistic hunters feeding on small mammals like mice and young rabbits Found Europe wide, preferring forest and woodland habitats Predators of this species include owls, larger birds such as the peregrine falcon and the golden eagle, and red foxes
Robin
The adult Robin is one of the most distinctive birds found in Britain. A small bird, the robin is easily identifiable by the brightly coloured orange/brown breast. Distinguishing between the sexes of these birds is difficult as both the males and females share the same colouration and patterns. This species is commonly found throughout Europe and western Asia living in hedgerows and grassy areas such as parks and woodlands. diet is seeds, berries and terrestrial invertebrates such as worms and spiders For adults, there are only a few predators including hawks, snakes, cats and dogs. However, the juveniles are prey for some species of squirrels, a wider variety of birds as well as the species that feed on the adults
Blue Tit
The Blue Tit presents a magnificent colouration of green, blue and yellow. The blue is found both within the wings and at the crest, giving this bird its name. Blue tits are often found in groups of up to 5, and like to gather around bird feeders in parks or in your garden They live in hedgerows, woodlands, gardens and parks, and feed on seeds, nuts and insects such as worms and caterpillars The main predators of the tit family are larger birds, primarily Sparrowhawks and jays. Domestic cats also pose a threat.
Kingfisher
Whilst only a small bird, approximately 15 cm in length, the Common Kingfisher is an unmistakable bird. The adults of this species are a vibrant blue with patches of green, black and chestnut, which appears at the cheeks and underneath the body. The bill is relatively long helping it catch fish as its prey. Found all across Europe, with the exception of northern Scandinavia, near inland water bodies such as lakes, streams and rivers. The Kingfisher is famous for eating fish, however like most birds they eat seeds, leaves and insects as well Longevity is relatively short within this species as winters are very harsh for them, often they die from the cold, or a lack of food. Also as they are quite high within the food chain bio accumulation of insecticides can cause a large number of fatalities per year. Despite their position within the food chain, they are preyed upon by Foxes, snakes and large birds of prey
House Martin
The House Martin can be identified by its obscure steel blue colouring on its back and head with a white undercarriage. They are small birds and both male and female sexes look very much alike. House Martins love the open country with a water source. However, they can also be seen nesting in cities and urban built- up areas. They live off a diet of different insects. The only predator which is known to House Martins is the Eurasian hobby Falcon but another threat that can have detrimental effects to the birds health is parasites thriving on their bodies
Puffin
It is not hard to see why these birds are sometimes referred to as the “parrot of the sea”, the shocking orange and black bill of this species is one of the clearest identifications within the animal kingdom. The Atlantic Puffin can dive up to 60 meters in order to capture prey. Puffins live in the north of the Atlantic, ranging from the eastern coasts of the USA to central Russia. Being excellent divers the puffin primarily feeds on fish such as herring, whiting and sand eels. The primary threats that currently face these animals are; overfishing, chemical pollution and fatalities as a result of being caught in fishing nets. There are few predators of the puffin despite their small size due to the puffins nesting sites. Hawks, eagles and foxes the main predators
Barn Owl
Barn Owls prefer a mixed farming habitat with spinneys, ditches, rough pastures and well-managed field margins. Grassland makes good hunting ground, along with hay meadows. They are often found around farm buildings, barns and the edge of villages. A breeding pair of barn owls needs around 1.5 ha of rough grass.. Short-tailed field voles are the preferred prey species, making up to 60% of their diet. Barn owls will also hunt for mice, shrews, small rats and birds.. Barn Owls will breed from April to August, and a second brood may be reared when food sources are high. A breeding pair will use the same nest site year after year if undisturbed. The female lays four to seven white eggs in an unlined hole of a tree or barn. They will nest in good owl boxes that are a sufficient size, in a good habitat location and draught-free
Kittiwake
The Kittiwake is a medium sized species of gull that presents a brilliant white colour. The wings can appear grey and are tipped with a black at the wings. The legs are also relatively small and a distinctive black. They are found across the northern hemisphere on the coasts during the summer, however move outwards to the ocean in the winter. Some do remain at the coastline however this is far less common. This species is commonly found hunting in flocks during the day, feeding on invertebrates and fish Due to the position of their nesting sites, on the side of cliffs, black-legged Kittiwakes have few natural predators. During the winter when they are out at sea however, they can be fed on by sharks and whales. The main problem that faces this species is human impacts on their environment. Overfishing has led to food shortages, and pollutants both chemical and plastic based have caused significant declines in some areas
Red Squirrel
The Red Squirrel is an arboreal rodent, meaning that it lives among the trees. With a declining population, there are an approximated 140,000 red squirrels left in the wild in Britain. This is in contrast to the 2.5 million invasive grey squirrels found in the country. The Red Squirrel is found across both Europe as well as central and northern Asia. Living in trees they build large nests, called dreys. Pine and spruce cones make up a large part of their diet. However, when they get the opportunity they will feed on various types of fungi and bird eggs. The numbers of Red Squirrel have been declining ever since the introduction of the invasive Eastern Grey Squirrel, which competes for food and space. Habitat loss also has a major impact on the numbers of this rodent. It is expected that without intense conservation efforts they may disappear from Britain, by 2030. The red squirrel has a wide range of predators from large birds, Foxes, and Stoats which feed on their nests
Grey Squirrel
Native to North America. Introduced to Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa. Prefers mature deciduous woodland but also common in parks and gardens in towns and cities. Winter fur is dense and silvery grey with a brown tinge along the middle of the back. Summer fur is yellowish-brown. White underparts. Bushy, grey tail. Ears without tufts. Feeds on Hazelnuts, acorns, beech mast, tree bark, fungi, buds, leaves, shoots, flowers; will also raid birds' nests for eggs and young. The grey squirrel was introduced to Great Britain in the mid-19th century and after many releases it began to increase dramatically at the beginning of the 20th century, mainly spreading from Woburn Park, Bedfordshire. They came to England from North America and are now one of Britain's most well-known and frequently seen mammals, with an estimated population of 2 million. They are much more common than the native red squirrel, which has a population estimated at 161,000
Hedgehog
The Common Hedgehog is an iconic animal due to its wandering behaviour leading it into gardens across the UK. The spines that they possess are sharp and densely packed in order to try and avoid predation. When threatened they curl up into a ball tucking the unprotected head into the centre of the tightly packed ball Found commonly across Europe within temperate forests including woodlands, moor and heathlands. They are also found within parks and gardens. Feeding on Insects and worms. Occasionally they feed on frogs, mice and young birds A consistent threat to these creatures is motor vehicles, with hundreds of thousands of Common Hedgehogs being killed on the roads every year. The two primary animal based threats to these animals are badgers and foxes. Hedgehogs can travel between half a mile and a mile each night in search of food. In order to get around the hedgehogs’ defensive spikes, foxes have been observed pushing them down hills and urinating on them, to try and get them to unravel
Red Fox
The Red Fox is the largest of the true foxes and is easily distinguishable by its red coat, hence the name. They also have a long slender body, with long black legs and a long bushy tail with a white tip. The environments in which red foxes inhabit include: forests, mountains, grassy areas and deserts. They are very diverse animals and have also been seen around towns and other suburban areas. They have a highly varied diet which can include food sources such as: rodents, birds and fruits. The Red Fox is predated on mainly in the UK by Grey Wolves and Eagles. However, they are also widely hunted by human beings for their fur pelts
Badger
The Badger is a short legged member of the Carnivora family. The European Badger species is nocturnal and omnivorous, meaning that they feed at night, on both plant matter and on other animals. During the day, Badgers live and sleep in burrows, called setts. Europe wide, primarily found within woodlands, though they are not uncommon in suburban areas. The Badger has an extremely broad dietary composition. They are omnivorous and feed on seeds, leaves, earthworms, and small mammals. Occasionally, when the opportunity arises, the badger also feeds on reptiles and small birds. Due to intensive agricultural activities, suitable habitats for these animals has declined significantly, however sustainable populations exist within woodlands. Other factors that are known to have caused declines in populations are diseases such as rabies.
Fallow Deer
It is thought that the Fallow Deer was introduced into Britain by the Normans in the 11th century. Unlike the Red Deer, they have white spots across their body, however in some individuals and during the winter season this can become less distinguished. They are found across Europe in wooded areas and nature parks such as the New Forrest. Like most deer, the Fallow Deer are herbivorous, feeding on plant matter. Humans, wolves and bears pose the main threat towards this species
Sika Deer
Sika favour a mix of heathland and coniferous woodland. In the New Forest the population is kept to the south-east, between Brockenhurst and Beaulieu. There is a risk of cross-breeding (hybridisation) with the native red deer, so the Forestry Commission maintains a sika herd in this area because it is furthest away from the established red deer population. Sika are sensitive to human disturbance and hide in woodland by day, venturing out onto open heath or farmland at night. They tend to be solitary for most of the year and only form small groups in winter. The best time to look for them is during the rut in October and November, but you are more likely to hear the eerie scream of the stags (males) than to see them
Weasel
The Weasel can be identified by their off yellow-brown coloured fur on their back. However, the changing of seasons also means the colouring of their fur differs. The short legs of weasels allow them to burrow and follow prey underground. They will inhabit areas such as: open fields, woodlands, farmland and other abandoned burrows. The Weasel searches for areas that are abundant in small mammals and where there is nearby fresh water available. They have a diet made up of small mammals and will also occasionally eat frogs, fish and birds’ eggs, basically whatever is available at the time. The most common predators to weasels are birds of prey such as: owls, eagles and hawks. Another threat when in farmland and suburban areas can come from domesticated dogs and cats. Other predation can arise from foxes and snakes Weasels are the smallest carnivorous mammal in the world. Despite being small, weasels can have a fierce personality.
The rabbit is a very familiar animal that can be spotted grazing grasses, cereals, root vegetables, tree bark and shoots on farmland, heathland and grasslands. It can also be found on sand dunes and moorland, at woodland edges, on roadside verges, and in towns and cities. Rabbits live in large groups in extensive underground burrow systems known as 'warrens'. They are famous breeders; females, known as 'does', produce one litter of between three and seven young every month during the breeding season (January to August). Rabbits are prey for a variety of animals, including stoats, buzzards, polecats and red foxes.
Rabbit
Brown Hare
It is not unusual to see brown hares during the day, however they are in fact nocturnal and spend about two thirds of their time feeding. Whilst a dainty looking character the brown hare can run upto 45 mph in order to evade predators. Brown hares are common throughout the British Isles, and can be found throughout Europe. Mainly found in lowland areas with plenty of vegetation. A herbivorous creature they feed on grasses and herbs. Due to their extremely fast nature adults of this species are able to out maneuver and out run a number of potential predators, such as foxes and large birds of prey. However the smaller juveniles are not as fast and are primary targets for; foxes, buzzards and owls. Unlike their close relatives, the rabbit, hares do not live in burrows. Baby hares are called leverets. During breeding season, males and females “box” each other in order to deter mating attempts or to test the males competitiveness
Eurasian Otter
Despite being such a lovable carnivore, the Eurasian Otter is classified as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN due to a declining population over the last 40 years. This has steadied and the decline is not as drastic as it was over the last 23 years. The IUCN status has been described as precautionary. With the widest distribution of the otter subfamily, the common otter stretches from western Europe to central Asia. They also inhabit the northern most part of Africa. They live in burrow in most waterways and coastal waters. Common otters are piscivorous, meaning they eat fish, and carnivorous. The primary component of their diet are small fishes, however they will eat whatever they can get their hands on. This includes; crabs, frogs, voles and even large water birds. Predators include wolves, lynxes and large birds of prey. Otters are extremely territorial. Pups leave their mothers at only 1-years-old. They can hold their breath for around a minute
Palmate Newt
This smooth-skinned amphibian: the Palmate Newt is thought to be the smallest found in Britain. Whilst appearing very similar to the Smooth Newt, a key identification method is to look at the throat. Palmate Newts do not have spots on the throat, whereas the Smooth Newt does. The egg larvae of the two species are indistinguishable from each other. Commonly found within most lakes and ponds in eastern Europe with the exclusion of Ireland, southern Portugal and Spain. Invertebrates make up the majority of these small creatures’ diet, this includes crustaceans, tadpoles and fish plankton. They are also show to have cannibalistic tendencies. At both the larval stages and adult stages, the Palmate Newt is highly susceptible to predation by a number of species. During the adult stages, they are preyed on by fish, snakes, ducks and kingfishers, whereas in the larval phase they are consumed by water beetles, fish adult newts and dragonfly nymphs
Adder
The adder is a relatively small, stocky snake that prefers woodland, heathland and moorland habitats. It hunts lizards and small mammals, as well as ground-nesting birds, such as skylark and meadow pipit. In spring, male adders perform a 'dance' during which they duel to fend off competition to mate The adder is the most northerly member of the viper family and is found throughout Britain, from the south coast of England to the far north of Scotland. In Scandinavia its range even extends into the Arctic Circle. It is not found in Ireland. Adders like open habitats such as heathland, moorland, open woodland and sea cliffs, typically on free-draining soils such as chalk or sand. In most of their range adders rarely enter gardens
Slow Worm
The Slow Worm has a somewhat deceptive name, as these animals are neither slow nor are they worms. They are in fact legless lizards, and when threatened or surprised they can move exceptionally fast. When attacked by predators, like lizards, they can shed their tails, in order to escape. Slow Worms live mainly in woodlands and heathlands. But they can sometimes be found even in your garden. They key to looking for these reptiles is to look in warm and protected areas, such as artificial refugia. Anguis fragilis feeds upon slow moving prey, such as slugs, snails and worms. They can also be found eating insects and spiders. It is not fully understood but populations of Slow Worms have been decreasing. This is most likely however due to human disturbances and habitat degradation. They are therefore protected and killing them or selling them as pets are illegal. Predators of Slow Worms include adders, grass snakes, many bird species, Hedgehogs and Badgers. During hibernation, there can be up to 30 Slow Worms in one area. Slow Worms are able to suck snails out of their shells
Common Frog
Common frogs are amphibians, breeding in ponds during the spring and spending much of the rest of the year feeding in woodland, gardens, hedgerows and tussocky grassland. They are familiar inhabitants of garden ponds, where they lay their eggs in big 'rafts' of spawn. They feed on a variety of invertebrates and even smaller amphibians Found throughout the country, except for some Scottish islands, some of the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands Male common frogs have 'nuptial pads' on their front feet to help them grip on to females during the breeding season. The male frog will wrap itself around the female and fertilise her eggs as they are produced; a female frog may lay up to 4,000 eggs in one spring! Frogs can spawn as early as December or as late as April depending on the weather. After hatching, tadpoles take about 14 weeks to metamorphise into froglets.
Natterjack Toad
In Britain the natterjack toad is almost exclusively confined to coastal sand dune systems, coastal grazing marshes and sandy heaths, though a single colony has been found on an upland fell site in Cumbria. Natterjack toads are often associated with ponds in sand dune slacks, which are often more shallow and warm. Natterjacks require warmer water in which to breed successfully. Natterjack toads are found on about 60 sites in Britain and occur on a small number of sites in south-west Ireland. Notable natterjack toad populations exist on the sand dunes along the Merseyside coast, the Cumbrian coast and on the Scottish Solway. The natterjack used to be quite common on the heaths of Surrey and Hampshire and also around the coast of East Anglia but sadly only one or two colonies now remain. Re-introduction programmes have now started to restore the range of this animal. In spring, on warm, still nights, the adult male natterjacks gather round the breeding pools and emit a rasping call.The louder the call the more chance they have of attracting a female. This can be heard up to a mile away! On one occasion a clever young male was seen calling from inside a jam jar which amplified the sound!
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Pine Marten
In England, pine martens are still scarce and have a very restricted distribution. Martens are spreading from southern Scotland and naturally re-colonising parts of Northumberland and Cumbria. Elsewhere in England, pine martens have been recorded in Shropshire and Hampshire (the New Forest) Pine martens are extremely agile and excellent climbers, helped by a long bushy tail for balance during treetop adventures, and large claws and thick fur on the soles of the feet for grip as they bound up tree trunks with ease. If they fall, they twist in the air like a cat to land safely on all four feet. Although they are great climbers, pine martens tend to find most of their food on the ground, hunting at night and around dusk. Main food sources are birds, insects and small mammals like voles and rabbits, but fungi, berries and eggs make a tasty meal too Pine martens take their name from their habitat, living mostly in woodland and preferring to spend most of their time in pine trees, though they will also live in scrub, rocky areas and crags. In the UK they are mostly restricted to northern and central Scotland, with some populations in southern Scotland and low numbers in northern England and Wales.
Harvest Mouse
The tiny harvest mouse lives in long tussocky grassland, reedbeds, hedgerows, farmland and around woodland edges. It is mainly vegetarian, eating seeds and fruits, but will also eat invertebrates. Harvest mice build a spherical nest of tightly woven grass, high-up in the tall grasses, in which the female will give birth to around six young The harvest mouse is the only British mammal to have a prehensile tail: it can use it like a fifth limb, holding on to grass stems with it Harvest mice shred grasses by pulling them through their teeth and use the strips to weave a hollow nest, about the size of a tennis ball, about 50 – 100cm above the ground and secured to grass stems
Wood Mouse
The tiny, brown wood mouse is one of our most common rodents and is very likely to be found in the garden. It is similar to the house mouse, but has larger ears and eyes relative to its size The wood mouse is sometimes known as the long-tailed field mouse and is widespread; it is probably most common in woodland, rough grassland and gardens. It is mostly nocturnal and an agile climber. Wood mice will gather food stores of berries and seeds in the autumn, which they keep in underground burrows or sometimes in old birds' nests. Females have up to six litters a year of between four and eight young, and may even breed over winter if food is abundant The wood mouse is our commonest mouse and the one you are most likely to find in your garden. Because of this, it often falls prey to domestic cats, foxes and owls; in fact, tawny owls may not breed if wood mouse numbers are low as it restricts their diet
Water Vole
Water voles are often mistakenly called water rats, but they are only distantly related to rats. 'Ratty' from the famous book 'Wind in the Willows', should really have been called 'Voley'! Although it is the same size as a brown rat, the harmless water vole differs in having a chubby face with a blunt nose and short furry ears almost hidden by long fur. Brown rats do, like the voles, sometimes live in waterside burrows and may be seen swimming, but they are usually near buildings and often in polluted water. Water voles prefer clean water in less disturbed areas by lowland river banks or the edges of ponds and lakes Rat-like in appearance but with a rounder face with a blunt nose, short furry ears, shorter tail; long, glossy, dark-brown fur. Life-span is about 5 months in the wild - usually no more than 18 months. Up to 5 years in captivity. They feed on mainly grasses and waterside plants. Also twigs, buds, bulbs, roots and fallen fruit
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About Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.The sand lizard is one of the UK's rarest reptiles. It favours sandy heathland habitats and sand dunes, and can be spotted basking on bare patches of sand. Sand lizards are confined to a few sites as destruction of their habitat has reduced their range. Males emerge from hibernation in spring, turning a bright green colour as they get ready to mate. Females lay their eggs in the sand in June and July, and the young hatch one to two months later. How to identify Female sand lizards are a sandy-brown colour, with rows of dark blotches along the back; males have green flanks that are at their brightest during the breeding season, making them easy to spot. Distribution Restricted to a few isolated areas in Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey and Merseyside. Reintroduced into other areas in the South East, South West and Wales.
Sand Lizard