Hi, I'm Rudi, i'm 8 years old and my favourite book is 'Tarka the Otter' by Henry Williamson. Its about the life of an otter named Tarka and British Wildlife. One night i was reading the book with my dad and i said that i wanted to see all the animals in the book, he said i should do it and call it the Tarka Challenge. My Tarka Challenge started on 1st January 2012. The book contains 89 birds, 54 land based animals, 120 plants and 56 aquatic organisms.

The rules are simple, i must either see each thing myself or photograph it using my trail camera. I will try and see each thing on my local patch (Ogmore River Catchment) but may need to look somewhere else in Britain.

Kenfig Pool

We went to Kenfig Pool today to try and see some Whimbrels, by the time we got to the hide they had flown off, we had also just missed a Marsh Harrier. There were loads of Swallows and Martins over the pool and we heard a Cettis Warbler. We saw Bullfinch, Wheatears and Jays.

We saw these plants and a Glow Worm larvae (thanks to Katie for identifying it and letting me know).

Glow Worm

 Cuckoo Flower

 Early Purple Orchid

 Early Purple Orchid

Yellow Archangel

Then we went to Parc Slip and saw a Willow Warbler, Little Grebe and some Ducklings. 3 things off the list.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

These are also known as Dabchick it has a really short tail which makes it look round like a ball.

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Is the commonest warbler in Britain. They live in Africa in the winter time and fly back to Britain for summer, a journey of 8,000 miles. It is really difficult to tell Chiff Chaffs and Willow Warblers apart, the best way is to learn the different song of each bird.


Ducklings are mentioned in the book but it doesnt say what type of ducklings. It was propbably this type (mallard).

Tracks and Trails

We went on a Tracks and Trails event organised by the Council. The man doing the talk was really good. We were looking for tracks and trails left by mammals. We found some hazelnut shells opened by voles. The man had a bag of different this and showed us a harvest mouse nest and a dead Mink. He also had some bags of otter and fox poo which are used as signs that these animals have been in an area.

Here's a picture of me smelling Otter poo for the first time, it smelled quite grassy.....

We walked around the park a bit more and our guide spotted this Otter footprint, i couldn't believe it, its the first time i have seen an actual otter print....

 The guide then found some fresh poo. Otter poo is called spraint and you can see bits of fish bones in it.....

It was a bit rainy but a really good day, I saw my first real signs of otters in my local area which made me really happy

Trip to Cardiff

We went to Cardiff today and went to the museum, it was interesting seeing all the birds (stuffed) as you could see the different sizes. I didnt know gannets were so big.

On the way out we saw the Peregrine nest cam and saw the tail feathers of the female Peregrine Falcon as she sat on her eggs. When we went outside we visited the RSPB tent and saw the male Peregrine standing on the clock tower.

On the way home we went to Cosmeston Lakes and saw this Coot, you can see his scaly feet under the water....

and this coot was sitting on a nest in the reed bed......

We also saw this Great Crested Grebe

Llynfi Valley nature.: Birding Bridgend County 2011

This is list of birds seen by Martyn Hnatiuk. I really enjoyed reading it and cant believe all the birds that are out there on my doorstep.

Llynfi Valley nature.: Birding Bridgend County 2011: In 2011 I undertoke an attempt at year listing in Bridgend County. But I had to wait until all description species were assessed and passed/...

Out & About



Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
Small Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis urticae)
Hare (Lepus europaeus)

Me and dad went for a walk up Ogmore Down and saw 10+ Wheatear. We also saw Linnet and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly. When we got home we had some lunch then we all went on a family walk down to Dunraven Bay. I found some crystals in a rockfall. On the way home we saw a Hare in the woods, a couple of Goldcrests and lots of Swallows darting around catching flies.



Small Tortoiseshell


Jackdaw nesting in church window, he has decorated his nest with a plastic rose flower.

Some Plants

We went to the Wildlife Watch Group at Margam Discovery Centre this morning. It was really fun, we went pond dipping and found leeches, mayfly larvae, water mites, water hoglouse and saw a Coots nest with 4 eggs in it.

The list of plants is pretty long so its time to start ticking them off

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Nettle (Utrica dioica)
Gorse (Ulex europaeus (Fababeae))
Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)

Hawthorn is a small tree that is common in hedgerows. the berries are called haws and provide food for a lot of animals and birds in the autumn. The flowers on the tree are called may blossom as they usually come out in may. The flowers are pollinated by flies so the flowers smell a bit 'gone off' to attract them.

White Hawthorn flowers at the top and Stinging nettles at the bottom.

Everyone knows about stinging nettles, because they sting if you touch them. But did you know you can eat them? If you pick them carefully (wearing gloves) and cook them they loose their sting. My dad sometimes makes nettle soup which is actually quite nice.

We live in an area with a lot of Gorse. The bright yellow flowers are everywhere. These are prickly bushes and if we are out for a walk and i have a pain in my foot its usually because a bit of gorse has got in my shoe. Sometimes the flowers smell a bit like coconut.


One of the other plants we have a lot of in our area is bracken. It can take over huge areas and grows from a creeping root called a 'rhizome'. The plants are just coming up this time of year and they are sometimes called 'fiddle heads' or 'shepherds crooks' as they can look like the tops of fiddles or shepherds crooks as you can see below


Tawny Owl

Here's my Tawny Owl.

Garden Bugs

Sloe Bug (Dolycoris baccarum)
Peacock (Nymphalis io)

Sloe Bug 

We found a Stink Bug (also known as Shield Bug) today. They are called stink bugs because if they are scared or threatented they make a really bad smell. We think this one is a Sloe Bug which feeds on Sloe (the Blackthorn plant) and other tree's like Hawthorn. This one was'nt scared when we saw it because it didnt make a stink.


We also spotted this Peacock butterfly which has spots like eyes on its wings. Peacocks are seen between July and September and then they hibernate over winter and can then be seen between March and May.

I still cannot believe we saw a Tawny Owl last night.

Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

We just decided to go for a walk after our tea. I said to dad to take his camera but he said he was not going to because whenever we have not got the camera we always end up seeing something good.

We walked for a bit and could hear some Blackbirds making a fuss on the edge of a wood. Then my brother heard a Tawny Owl call. We stayed still and then we heard it call again. We walked towards the wood and saw a quick flash of a brown owl flying close to the ground in between the trees. We were all excited because we had never seen a Tawny Owl before. We walked on a bit further and heard it call again and my dad spotted it perching in a tree. We were really close to the owl and had a great view, we could see it blinking and looking at us, even without binnoculars.

They are really beautiful birds but can be quite dangerous. A famous wildlife cameraman called Eric Hoskings was once taking photos of a Tawny Owl which then attacked him and blinded him in one eye. The Owl probably thought he was going to hurt its chicks in the nest and was just protecting its young.

Old Nog

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

In the book there is a wise old Heron who is called 'Old Nog'. Whenever we see a Heron we always call him Old Nog.

Herons are birds that a lot of people see. They are predators and will eat things like frogs, rats, fish and other birds. A lot of people do not like Herons because they will eat goldfish out of garden ponds. Herons live in groups and build thier nests together, these sites are called heronries. The largest heronry in Wales is at Hensol in The Vale of Glamorgan. The Heron in this film on our village pond probably lives there. The record for the most Heron nests in one tree is 25 separate nests.

Herons hunt by stalking through shallow water and can stand still for a long time before using its dagger like bill to catch its prey.

People used to eat Herons and in 1465 a party held by Lord Neville (the Archbishop of York) had 400 roasted Herons on the menu.

Easter Weekend

Meadow Pipet (Anthus pratensis)
Mallard (Anas platyrhychos)
Bluebell (Scilla non-scripta)
Reed (Phragmites australis)

We saw this Pipit which we think was a Meadow Pipit althought it was quite close to an area where Rock Pipits live. It is what some bird watchers call an L.B.J. (Little Brown Job), they are called this because a lot of the little brown birds are very difficult to tell apart.

This pair of Mallards were sitting in the sunshine at Parc Slip nature reserve. The male is the one with the green head and the female is the one with the brown feathers. When someone mentions a duck these are what most people will think of.

The wild dafodils over the wood have faded and have now been replaced by Bluebells. The flowers appear just as leaves begin to come out on the trees. British Bluebell woods are famous and are propbably known as one of the best wildflower displays in the whole of Europe.

The Reeds are still brown at the nature reserve but they will be turning green soon as they start to grow. Reeds can grow in fresh water or brackish water. Brackish water is found where rivers meet the sea and has sea water mixed with the riverwater which makes it a bit salty. Reeds can spread by thier roots which are called 'rhizomes'.

Bittern Dawn by Wildlife Whisperer

Bittern Dawn by Wildlife Whisperer

This is a Podcast by Simon King the wildlife cameraman from his website 'Wildlife Whispered'

In the Garden

Speckled Wood Butterfly (Pararge aegeria)
Bee Fly (Bombylius major)

Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood

Bee Fly

Out in the garden today i saw my first Speckled Wood butterfly. Then we found a weird looking furry fly. We got out an insect book and identified it as a Bee Fly. It has a really long beak called a proboscis). They feed on flowers.


Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis)

We went over our grandparents for tea, when we got there we saw our first Swallow of the year. When we were eating our tea (corned beef pie) my brother spotted a Kestrel out of the window eating his tea (a Slow-worm). My Grandad took this picture of it.

Slow Worm

Its called a worm and looks like a snake but its actually a legless lizard. They can be between 30-50cm long and like to live in compost heaps. We had two living in our garden last year.


If you see a bird of prey hovering in the sky like a helicopter then its usually a Kestrel. It used to be called Windhover because it was so good at hovering.