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
This photo was the result of many hours stood at a tree in pitch black, waiting for a dormouse to move along the right branch and stop moving - they're far to fast to capture in motion! Dormice feed high up in the trees on a variety of food. They eat flowers and pollen during the spring, fruit in summer and nuts, particularly hazel nuts, in autumn. It is thought that insects are taken too. This variety of food must be available within a small area, a requirement which limits the suitability of some sites for dormice.
The Norfolk hawker is a large hawker dragonfly which is on the wing for a short period during June and the very beginning of July. A rare dragonfly, it is found in the marshes and fens of the Norfolk Broads along ditches where the aquatic plant, water soldier, grows. It needs unspoilt grazing marsh with non-saline water to survive. Having spent up to two years in the water, mature dragonfly larvae climb on to emerging vegetation at night, where they moult into adult dragonflies, leaving behind a cast known as an 'exuviae'. Newly emerged Norfolk hawkers wait until early morning to fly off to other areas to feed but will take another two to three weeks to reach maturity.
I saw my first Beaver in Scotland earlier this year, but was unable to photograph it. I've since made four visits to Devon getting to know the river down there. While I'm sure there were some near misses on at least a couple of those trips, and although Mink and Otter were seen, it took until the fourth trip to finally see Beavers. This is a kit which was born earlier this year. Not a great photo as it was almost completely dark.
Another shot of one of our local speciality species, the Hawfinch. You can often find them in deciduous mature woodland with large trees, they prefer Cherry, Beech and Hornbeam. They are difficult to see, as they are shy and very well hidden in the undergrowth, if you approach with great care, you may see them feeding, but the least movement will disturb them, and off they go. You can see Hawfinches all year round; usually more easily seen outside the breeding season when trees are leafless and they feed more regularly on the ground.
A small, dumpy chat, the stonechat is a little smaller than a robin. Stonechats have quite a big head and short tail. They can frequently be seen sitting on the top of gorse bushes, flicking their wings and making a sound like two small stones being hit together. Stonechats inhabit heaths, bogs and conifer plantations. They eat invertebrates, seeds and fruit such as blackberries. Stonechats will breed in any open rough country with scattered bushes for nesting. As well as heathland, they breed on the chalk downs and along the coast in scrubby grassland.
The Edible Dormouse was regarded as a delicacy by the Romans, giving rise to their common name. They are widespread on the continent, but only exist in Britain as a very localised population south-east of the Chilterns. They are nocturnal, and spend virtually all of their time in the trees, making them very difficult to spot or indeed photograph. Their bushy tails lend a squirrel-like appearance that is further enhanced by their dexterity in climbing and leaping through the trees of European forests. As the weather cools down during late autumn, edible dormice go into hibernation in underground tunnels, often in family groups.