We're making plans for 2020 - would you like to be involved?
Wild About Datchet Pub Quiz, 3rd February 7:30-9pm - The Stag Pub
We're having another quiz! Come down to The Stag for a cosy evening of questions, food, drink and fun! We hope to raise funds to help us with all of our upcoming work in 2020. Entry is £2 and there are fantastic prizes to be won! There will be a range of topics, such as general knowledge and music, so there's something for everyone. We hope to see you all there!
2020 Community Meeting
Thank you to everyone who came out to The Bridge on the 27th of January, to discuss future plans for us in 2020. It was exciting to hear such a range of ideas and potential projects. Don't worry if you couldn't make it, please feel free to contact us via social media and email - firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any ideas! We'd love to hear what environmental changes you would like to see in your local area.
What's Wild Last Month
January held the annual Big Garden Birdwatch 2020, where many of you took part in spending an hour counting the visitors to your garden. It was lovely to hear your results and pictures of what you saw! Don't worry if you missed it, it's still just as important now to fill up your birdfeeders and set out water. Also remember to log your results on the RSPB website as you have up until 16th Februrary, or 11th Februrary if you're sending them by post.
Also in January, you may have heard some unsettling screeching of the foxes throughout the night. Foxes scream and bark to communicate with each other and this becomes more common during mating season, which is at its peak in January. This only happens once a year though, and the cubs will usually be born around late March - which we will be looking forwards to!
A few of our top wildlife sightings for January include:
What's Wild This Month
This month holds National Nest Box Week from the 14th-21st February. So make sure you're prepared! It's time to be cleaning out your nestboxes and making sure they're ready for new visitors. Make sure your nestboxes are away from predators access and high winds. If you are already prepared, feel free to put your nest boxes up as early as possible, as birds are already courting and looking for potential nesting spaces. Don't forget plenty of food and water nearby!
As previously mentioned, birds are courting this month. So how can we tell? Grey herons, which are commonly spotted around Datchet, will put on a courting dance. The male will stretch his long neck upwards and then lower it over his back with the bill pointing upwards. Similarly, you can also spot great crested grebes during their courting ritual. The males and females will mirror each other on the water, diving down and rising up in perfect unison. Seemingly common today, great crested grebes were once very endangered in the UK. Historically they were hunted for their soft feathers which were used a substitute for fur and elaborate head feathers which were used to decorate women’s hats.
If you are lucky enough to have a pond in your garden, you may have noticed a plethora of early frog spawn. As frogs breed much earlier than toads, this month is the perfect time to see the beginning of a frogs life, right from your pond. If you don't have any, remember to never introduce frog spawn from elsewhere, wait until frogs find your pond and create their own. This spectacle, I'm sure, will motivate many of us to build our own ponds this year!
Even though toads breed later in the spring than frogs, this February, you should see them start to return to their breeding areas. Some toads have to cross roads to reach the ponds. Wild Marlow have been helping Henley Toad Patrol with putting up barriers in front of busy roads! To see more of this fantastic work, see the end of the newsletter for Wild Marlows details.
World Wild News
The 25th of January was Chinese New Year. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2020 is the year of the metal rat. The rat is the first in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac. So, what does this mean? And how do rats affect us?
For the Chinese Zodiac, in the terms of yin and yang, the Rat is yang and represents the beginning of a new day. Similarly, in Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and multitude. Due to their frequent reproduction rate, married couples also prayed to them for children.
In terms of wildlife, 81 million rats reside in the UK. Those figures would mean that there are 1.3 rats per person in the country. Meaning, they are completely unavoidable, as hard as we may try. Non-domesticated rats are much less favourable, and it is understandable to not want them in our living areas. However, we strongly advise to never use poison to try and rid yourself of rats. This is because, it is never always rats that consume the poison - household pets may find it. Secondly, rats have toughened against poisons used in the 70s, so poisons today are more toxic and stay in creatures' livers for longer. Rats that have eaten bait survive for several days before they die. This means they can get disorientated, stay out in the open, and become a prime target for birds of prey or even polecats. This means, once consumed by the bird of prey, the poison has then entered their system too.
Often spotted around Datchet, it may beg the question of why are they there? You may find that efforts to get rid of rats are stronger but more futile, as we are not looking at preventing beforehand. It is very important to keep clean up spills of foods, rubbish and debris close to buildings so that they don’t have a ready source of food next to shelter. Understandably, this can be difficult with foxes opening bins, but a lot of litter in the local area can be prevented. Hotspots such as Tesco Express or the two fish and chip shops, can bring a lot of rodents due to the frequent litter. Similarly, in our own gardens, don't forget to regularly clean your bird feeders and any food left out for hedgehogs, foxes or badgers as rats will consume all. An ethical and clean approach is much more beneficial to helping our local rodent population.
This year, we would love to get the local community involved in a litter pick or 'adopt a street' programme to keep the village clean and tidy. Please feel free to get in contact with us to tell us what you think and what dates work best for you. We can't wait to hear from you!