It was great to welcome so many League supporters to Baronsdown last week; some people who have been friends of the League’s wildlife sanctuaries for a very long time and some people who were visiting for the first time.

The event coincided with the start of the Red Deer calving season and right on cue a few hinds had produced calves and left them concealed in the long grass. Leaving the young calves curled up in cover and returning only periodically to feed them is a high risk strategy for their mothers’, but their spotty brown coats make the calves surprisingly difficult to see unless they move. In just a few days the calves will be up and about and strong enough to join their mothers in the herd where the hinds will club together to protect them.

Hind and calf in Baronsdown wildlife sanctuary

Yesterday evening I was out at sunset counting Brown Long-eared Bats emerging from the eves of Higher Lodge on Baronsdown. I have found that the best method of surveying is to sit in my vehicle on the driveway, where the biting midges can’t get to me. Having a mug of tea on hand helps too. 21 bats came out in 45 minutes, which is a similar number to previous years and shows that the colony is doing well. No doubt this is due to the abundance of insects on the wildlife sanctuary where no agri-chemical pesticides are used. The results of the survey are submitted to the Bat Conservation National Bat Roost Count and add to the national picture of how bats are faring.

As a bonus, as I came out to do the bat survey a Roe Buck in fantastic condition and sporting a very fine pair of antlers came strolling up the drive. We stood looking at each other for what seemed like an age before the buck slipped silently away into the trees. It was one of those special moments that I think you only get from chance encounters with wildlife.

The profusion of insect life on Baronsdown also helps the various species of birds that are still busy raising their young. A hatch of small beetles was attracting a lot of attention this afternoon and Pied Wagtails, Redstarts, Barn Swallows, Robins and Spotted Flycatchers were all making the most of the bountiful supply.

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