Welcome to Wild In Britain, an occasional and irregular photo journal of my encounters with all types of wildlife in the British Isles. All species featured on the site are wild, and all photographs are the copyright of Ben Locke. For prints and licensing click here. Please also take a look at my main site BenLocke.co.uk
Marsh Fritillary in Gloucestershire. The Marsh Fritillary was once widespread in Britain and Ireland but has declined severely over the twentieth century. The Marsh Fritillary populations are highly volatile and the species requires extensive habitats or habitat networks for its long term survival. It is now confined to the western side of Britain and Ireland.
The Forest usually plays host to at least one over-wintering Great Grey Shrike. I haven’t spend any time photographing them this year so far – this shot is a couple of years old, but the same individual is most likely the same bird on that territory today.
A Grass Snake in Dorset. The Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) is Britain's largest terrestrial reptile. This snake is typically olive-green, brown or greyish in colour, with a variable row of black bars along the sides, occasionally with smaller round markings along the back in double rows. The underside of the grass snake is off-white or yellowish with dark triangular or rectangular markings. A characteristic black and yellow collar is present behind the head, which has earned the species the alternative name of 'ringed snake'
This shot of a male Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean was taken back in March this year, and was my entry to the BWPA awards, for which it was shortlisted in the portraits category. I knew the kind of shot I wanted, but needed to get extremely close and wide to achieve it.
The Yellow-necked Mouse is very difficult to distinguish from the Wood Mouse, but has a characteristic yellowish collar around its neck. It is restricted to the south and south-west of England and parts of Wales.
This Black Hairstreak was photographed in Cambridgeshire earlier this year. The Black Hairstreak is one of our rarest butterflies and one of the most recently discovered, due to the similarity with its close cousin, the White-letter Hairstreak. Black Hairstreak colonies are typically located in small woods or nearby hedgerows, where Blackthorn, the larval foodplant grows.
I can’t imagine how many time I’ve inadvertently flushed a Woodcock whilst walking the Forest. It’s one of those species that’s very easy to get close to accidentally, but you tend not to realise until it’s too late and the bird flies. This one happened to fly in to the Nightjar nets this week, offering a opportunity to get a close-up look at this crepuscular wader.
The return of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary is something I look forward to every year. It’s our least common butterfly in the Forest of Dean, and isn’t widespread in the region, but conservation efforts designed to increase the amount of suitable habitat might one day help to change that.
We’re fortunate that the Forest of Dean is still home to this species, which is in long term decline. For some reason the local population seems to have emerged rather later this year than other populations in the country, unless I’ve simply been unlucky until now. This one was photographed on the 29th May.
Nice to see the return of what is probably my favourite bird. So far this year I've only seen a few, but will be spending a lot more time with them over the coming weeks, as per every year. This photo was taken last year in the Forest of Dean. The crop was unintentional as it was pitch black and largely down to guesswork as to when to fire the camera.