Highlights of 2013

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, and like everyone else I am reflecting on the last year. The first part of the year seemed quite hard work, as spring didn’t really seem to spring at all. None of our nest boxes got used, and winter seemed to last until about May, when summer began. The summer was splendid, with lots of sunshine (our solar panels made lots of electricity – it’s so nice getting cheques back from an electricity company!), and the regular company of hedgehogs.

Torpid dormouse
Torpid dormouse

In terms of my year with wildlife, two things really stand out. The first is getting more proficient at handling dormice. They can be surprisingly bouncy (when they’re awake), so getting to handle lots is important to build up the skill to handle them safely without letting them escape. Although this year hasn’t been great for the dormice at the sites I monitor most regularly, I have had the opportunity to help out a couple of times at a site that seems to be teeming with them, which has really helped boost my confidence. A particular delight was getting to handle some mega-cute baby dormice! In terms of my training checklist, I just need to do a nut hunt (for signs of dormice) before I can put in for my license. I have a nut allergy, so I’ll have to do the nut hunt carefully!

Seal
Seal

The other stand-out wildlife experience of my year was snorkelling with seals at the Isles of Scilly. I wrote a blog post about that, so won’t repeat too much here, other than to say it’s fantastic getting to interact with large, wild creatures who are just as interested in you as you are in them!

In terms of lowlights from the year, news of the decline in barn owl numbers, and the badger cull pilot have both been deeply saddening.

I started my blog at the beginning of September, so don’t have a whole year’s worth of posts to choose from, but here are the top 3 most read posts so far:

  1. Snorkelling with seals (September 21st)
  2. Profile: dormice (the cutest creatures in existence?) (September 17th)
  3. The badger cull: an ‘evidence to policy’ perspective (October 23rd)

And here are my 3 personal favourites (excluding the most visited 3):

  1. Whose pawprints are these? (October 12th)
  2. Hog watching (October 6th)
  3. Only connect: children and nature (October 19th)

What are your wildlife highlights and lowlights of the year? And what are your favourite blog posts of the year?

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