These are exciting times on the League Against Cruel Sports wildlife sanctuaries and there is great expectation in the air.

Will we find any newborn Roe Deer kids concealed in the undergrowth? Will we locate the breeding earths of foxes before the vixens move them on? Have badger cubs emerged from their underground homes yet? Will we find any Hazel Dormice in their nesting boxes? Have Pied Flycatcher numbers in Barlynch Wood continued to increase? When will the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies take to the wing? Whilst the rhythm of nature continues to beat, it always throws up surprises for those people who have their eyes open to see it. Nature can be both fascinating and frustrating, but it is never boring.


A male ring-necked pheasant in Baronsdown wildlife sanctuary


At this time of year, some of the most visible animals on Baronsdown are the pheasants that have survived the shooting season and have taken up residence on the wildlife sanctuary after fleeing from neighbouring shoots. Fired up with testosterone the males spend the whole day squaring up to each other and fighting, whilst the females look on appearing slightly bemused. The total number of pheasants and the variety of breeds that are released just so they can be shot at is quite staggering.

One of the really useful tools we use for surveying the wildlife on the League’s sanctuaries without causing disturbance is the trail camera. These devices just sit there idling until something moves in front of them and then they capture either a still image or a short burst of footage. It was therefore infuriating to find that one of our trail cameras that had been set on Baronsdown, well away from any public right of way, had been stolen. You have to wonder why anyone would be prowling around the sanctuary without permission in the first place. You also have to wonder why they thought they had the right to steal our property and disrupt our studies; property that League supporters have paid for with their generous donations. It is a sad reflection on the attitude of some people when we have to resort to housing our cameras in locked boxes designed to stop bears from damaging them.