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.

Red Kite Feeding Time

We found some St Georges Mushrooms up the common, these are very nice to eat. But you must never eat mushrooms unless you are with someone who knows how to identify them, lucky for me that my dad knows. We never got to eat these ones though because when we cut them up when we got home they were full of mushroom fly maggots.

Ba Ba Ba Barn Owl

We went to visit Meurig today, I call him Mr Lucky. He lives on a small farm in the welsh mountains and is surrounded by nature. He even has swallows nesting inside his actual house.

We walked around the farm and he showed me loads of bird nests, so many i lost count. There were swallows everywhere nesting in the barns. He has a big lake with fish and newts in it and we found a Heron feather.

We bottle fed some orphaned lambs

He showed me a Pied Wagtails nest in his shed

 Pied Wagtail nest with 5 eggs

Pied Wagtail

When we walked past the big barn a Barn Owl glided out past us into the woods.

We set up my trail camera and got some video of the Barn Owl perching during the night.

Roosting Barn Owl

Barn Owls, i couldn't believe it. In just 4 months we have seen Short Eared Owls, Tawny Owl, Little Owl and now a Barn Owl. I really enjoyed my trip to the farm and came away with a bag full of Owl pellets and some feathers.

On Sunday we went for a walk down the river and saw a Dipper displaying to its mate. We were surprised to see the Dippers so close to the sea, usually they live in upland rivers.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
The Barn Owl can seem like a ghost, white and silently gliding around at night. The Barn Owl feeds mainly on small mammals such as mice and voles and shrews, they also eat small rats and sometimes birds and even bats. Owls cant digest the preys fur and bones so they 'sick' them up as pellets. You can find pellets under places where the birds perch. If you break up the pellets you can tell from the bones and skulls what the birds have been eating.

I love Owls

Red Kite Cafe.....

Today we went to the Red Kite Cafe in the Black Mountains (Breacon). - http://www.redkiteswales.co.uk/

On the way we stopped off for a mountain river picnic. It was a really hot day and dad said that if i wanted to 'know an Otter i should be an Otter'. So we all swam in the river pool and played in the waterfall, even mum. It was cold but fun. When we got out we had loads of leeches on us, it took us five minutes to pick them all off. I thought mum would go mad but she didn't mind, she even went back in for a swim.

We had a yummy picnic then went to the feeding station. It was absolutely amazing. We saw about 60 Redkites swooping down for the food, awesome.


We went out for a walk with Glamorgan Bird Club on Saturday and saw a lot of birds (42 species). We were lucky enough to see 3 Whimbrel. We also had Swallows, Swifts and Sand Martins flying right over our heads which was awesome.

In the afternoon we went to Bryngarw Park and saw a Dipper and a noisy family of Nuthatch (2 parents and 3 fledglings). We also found some plants on the flood plain.

 Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

 Ivy leaved Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus hederaceus)

Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)

Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)

Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas

With the sun shining, the butterflies were out.

 We think this one is a Green Veined White (Pieris napi) Please tell us if we have got it wrong.

 Orange Tip (Anthocaris cardamines)

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)

A trip to the river with our fishing nets and we caught some bay trout.

Baby trout are also called 'Fry'

After a busy day we enjoyed a drink, chips and the view from a pub beer garden.

Ticked off the list were

Sand Martin
Fry (Trout)
Water Crowfoot
King Cups (Marsh Marigold)
Male Fern


Well i had a busy weekend, wildlife watch at Margam on Saturday where I ticked Pig and saw Fallow Deer, Donkey, Goldfinch and some Goslings. I also had to make Dad hug a tree.


 Fallow Deer



Canada Goose Goslings

We went for a walk down Southerndown to look for owls, we saw a Kestrel And this big Raven.

In the garden we saw a fly,

The Blue Tits are nesting in the box we fitted to the apple tree. When i had my hair cut off before christmas i saved the clippings and on the weekend i put them in a jar on the bird table, the Blue tits spent all day collecting my hair and taking it too the nest, i hope it keeps the chicks cosy.

We also saw this wild animal in the garden, his name is Ned and he is my dog

Then on Sunday we went to Kenfig Pool for a Glamorgan Birds Club event. We met lots of nice people but didnt take any photos because dad left his memory card at home. We bought some good books and went on a guided walk. Some people saw a Spotted Flycatcher but i missed it, we did see a Whitethroat and Wheatear. There were lots of house martins, swallows and swifts, the swifts were flying really close to us. We saw some Mute Swans with 4 Cygnets (baby swans).

In the afternoon we had a barbecue then me and dad went for a quick walk up the common and saw a Skylark


House Sparrow

Then we had a very special moment, we were walking on the edge of the village and all of a sudden we heard a Cuckoo. We couldnt believe it, we then saw it fly to a tree in front of us and call again. then it flew off, we heard it call two more times. I was so excited i nearly fell over. Seeing a Cuckoo is quite difficult, its on my top 20 hardest things to see and i saw it in my own village. I will never forget it, it was amazing.

Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Most people have heard of a Cuckoo but not many people have seen one. They used to be common in Britain but numbers have dropped. Cuckoos arrive in Britain in April and stay for a couple of months. They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and let those birds do all the hard work involved in raising and feeding the Cuckoo chick The scientific name for this is parasitizing nests). The Cuckoo chick throws all the other chicks out of the nest to make sure it gets to eat all of the food. For most people the sound of a Cuckoo means spring has arrived.

Tarka Pasta

Dont worry, there's no Otter in it.

Me and Dad picked some Ramsons today (Wild Garlic). We decided to use it to make a lunch that Tarka would have enjoyed so we invented Tarka Pasta.


chopped Wild Garlic
Crayfish tails
Smoked Salmon
grated Parmesan Cheese

Cook and drain the pasta then put back in the warm pot. Add the crayfish tails, chopped wild garlic, chopped smoked salmon, a glug of cream and some grated Parmesan cheese. Stir it all up and eat up!

We went out for a walk and saw Swallows everywhere and house martins and swifts. After the rain everything is turning green and there are lots of insects about too.

4 things off the list (Wild Garlic, Cockerel, Swift and Harts Tongue Fern)


Harts Tongue Fern

We saw a few other things too..........

 Little Owl

 Stone Chat



 Hedge Garlic