The Whitley Pump

The view from Katesgrove Hill

Category: Wildlife (page 1 of 3)

Review of 2019 at the Whitley Pump

The MERL’s new yarn bomb

Thank you to all our readers and regular and occasional contributors for making it a wonderful year on Katesgrove Hill. We hope that you continue to enjoy reading or contributing to the Whitley Pump in 2020.

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Whitley garden wildlife in October and November

Mouse

Mouse. Photo © David Turner

My Whitley garden was burgled in September, leaving me with very little equipment with which to record wildlife. Fortunately, I still have one working camera which I move about the garden each week and, of course, I have my trusted Fuji camera permanently strapped to me!

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Whitley garden wildlife in October: the vandalism special

David Turner’s monthly diary of Whitley wildlife was interrupted one night in September when somebody stole some of his garden monitoring equipment and vandalised the rest. Nobody was hurt, and both Bubbles the hedgehog and the fox family were left unmolested, but there could be no further wildlife photographs from mid-September.

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A walk into the Wilds of Coley

Coley Meadows (Adrian Lawson)

Coley Meadows (c) Adrian Lawson

On Sunday 17 November there’ll be a walk from Waterloo Meadows Children’s centre into the marshes of the Coley water meadows. We’ll meet at 10am, and we’ll expect to return by 1pm.

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Whitley garden wildlife in September

Hummingbird hawk moth

Hummingbird hawk moth. Photo © David Turner

Temperatures reached a balmy 29ºC for a few days in September, although the average temperature was 19ºC. The weather dramatically changed on 22 September; it became very wet and remained wet but mild right through October.

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An oral and social history of Katesgrove

Waterloo Sunrise. Picture courtesy of Mike Cox

In the 1990s, Mike Cox from the Friends of Waterloo Meadows co-edited and co-researched a book about the history of Katesgrove as part of the Katesgrove Community Book Project.

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Whitley garden wildlife in July and August

Fox vixen with a rat. Picture (c) David Turner

The late summer weather in my Whitley garden varied from warm to very hot indeed, with the occasional very wet day. The sun helped increase the numbers of butterflies, bees, insects and moths, of course. One of my photograph highlights for July was the vixen fox with a huge rat, striking a superb pose.

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Two years on, what has changed on the scenic route to the Madejski Stadium?

Sustrans signpost on Waterloo Meadows

Reading were at home to Sheffield Wednesday for their first game of the 2018/19 season. It was a fine day, so we decided to see what had changed since 2017 on the scenic cross-country route from the Whitley Pump to the Madejski Stadium.

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Whitley garden wildlife in June

Jay with a monkeynut. Photo (c) David Turner

June was a very warm month; during the rainy days of mid-month the temperatures still held at a warm 20°C. On 1 June, the temperature reached 28°C and was the hottest day of the year so far.

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Wild about south Reading!

You can celebrate Reading’s nature, as well as the people and groups who contribute to it, at a series of events across town starting in late July.

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Whitley garden wildlife in May

Lucky escape for the squirrel. Photo: David Turner

May was a very bad month for predation in my garden, with cats catching blackbirds, pigeons, starlings and squirrels. I do get annoyed, but I would never harm a cat; it’s just a natural instinct on their part, and there is very little I can do to stop it.

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Whitley garden wildlife in April

A Whitley fox. Photo :David Turner

April temperatures in my Whitley garden reached as high as 30ºC and as low as -5ºC, the hottest and coldest ever recorded for that month; the average temperature for the month was 17ºC. We also experienced an afternoon hail storm at the beginning of the month that briefly covered the garden in what looked like snow.

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Whitley garden wildlife in March

Male sparrowhawk. Photo: David Turner

March weather was a mix of every type of condition we could experience. We endured storm Freya for the first three days of the month, which consisted of extremely strong winds and rain, although the temperature stayed reasonably mild throughout.

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California (Katesgrove) Dreaming…

Hidden behind an ornate brick frontage on Milman Road stands a quietly growing giant. This giant is a tree, and not just any tree, but a Californian Redwood. It is the only tree on the street with a preservation order, thanks to efforts by local legends John and Edna Tuggey.

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Whitley garden wildlife in February

Bumblebee in crocus. Photo: David Turner

Who would have guessed, on the first day of February, when snow appeared for a few hours, that by the end of that same month we would enjoy summer conditions with temperatures reaching 20ºC most afternoons?

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Whitley urban wildlife in January

Male sparrowhawk. Photo (c) David Turner

Wildlife activity in my Whitley garden during January was good, despite the cold. There were no great surprises but there was a lot of activity. At the beginning of the year, I saw a female green woodpecker and a pair of great spotted woodpeckers, as well as a squirrel with mouthfuls of dry leaves clearly intended as nesting material.

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Winter flocks on Coley meadows

A murmuration of starlings at Gretna. Photo: Walter Baxter via Wikimedia Commons

Flocks of birds are a phenomenon that have always intrigued me. Watching how different birds go about it has fascinated me all my life. There are those obscure little flocks of twittering tits that flit about the hedgerows in winter, and there are those massive and spectacular starling murmurations that fill the dusk skies with choreographed magic.

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Whitethroats and I

Whitethroat. Photo: Nikola Middlemast

If you see me at this time of year, I am usually not walking very fast – I am scanning the fields and bushes on my regular walks looking for the common whitethroat. From spring and through the summer there are quite a few of them scattered around Reading, skulking in bushes or patches of bramble, and singing their curious scratchy little song.

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A rooftop Eden at RISC

The first of this year’s public open days at the amazing rooftop garden above the Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) was on Saturday 7 April. There may be people in the RISC café on London Street totally unaware of the 200 square metres of Eden above their heads, and that many of the herbs and flowers from the garden are used in the café. They are missing out on something quite remarkable.

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The natural and social pictorial history of a house in Whitley

In the autumn of 1973 David Turner was told by a friend that there was a derelict detached house on the Basingstoke Road that had been empty for a few years and was up for sale.

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