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.

Music and Waterfalls

Last week we went to the Croissant Neuf Music festival in Usk. Guess what we saw there, another Green Woodpecker! we also saw a Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzards playing in the sky and we heard a Tawny Owl and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Every night we sat around a huge campfire.

We went to see our favourite musician, Seth Lakeman. We were right down the front, he was amazing.

We went to the waterfalls to look for a fish called a Stone Loach, on the way we spotted an Alder tree.

Its supposed to be summer but it was raining.

When we got to the waterfall we put our wetsuits and goggles on and went swimming looking for fish. The water was stained brown by peat and it was like diving into a pool of beer, we didn't see any fish but we had fun anyway. When we got out Dad cooked us curry and rice on the camping stove and we sat happily in the rain eating it.

We found these Teasel's growing close to my Nans house, the seeds are a favourite food of Goldfinch.

We also went for a walk along the new bit of coast path, it was quite windy but still warm because the sun was shining.

We found this plant growing on the edge of a field, its called Charlock

Off the list

Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
Charlock (Sinapis arvensis)
Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)

Green Woodpecker

I have been trying to see a Green Woodpecker since i started in January. In the last week i have seen 4 different ones.

The Green Woodpecker (Picus viridus) is one of the 3 different woodpeckers we get in Britain (the other two are the Great Spotted Woodpecker and the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker). These are quite big birds and thier favorite food are ants. The other name for them is the Yaffle because thier call is like a yaffling laugh.

In the book Henry Williamson mentions a woodpecker but doesnt say which one it is.

Chakchek The Peregrine

Chakchek is the name Henry Williamson gives to the Peregrine Falcon in Tarka. I think he probably liked Peregrines because he wrote a separate short story about Chakchek. He called him Chakchek because this is the sound Peregrines make.

I had seen one Peregrine before but this was the first one i had seen on my patch. He was gliding in the air above my Nans house, i don't know if he was looking for food or just playing. Don, who lives up the lane had told me that there were Peregrines about, he had seen one attack and kill a Woodpigeon. He said that last week there was an adult flying with 2 juveniles beside it screaming for food.

Peregrine (Falco peregrinus)
This bird is described as the fastest species in the world because of the speed of its dive which can sometimes be up to 240 miles per hour. Peregrines love to eat pigeons and have started to appear in cities where there are plenty of pigeons to eat. A pair live on the clock tower in Cardiff and the RSPB have a nest cam on them which can be seen in the museum (http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/peregrines/).

A Peregrines prey can range from a tiny Goldcrest to a Heron, they have even been recorded killing and eating other birds of prey including Kestrel, Merlin and Short eared owl's. Peregrines are now making a come back but in the past many have died as a result of poisoning and being shot by gamekeepers.

During the Second World War in 1940 the government made a Destruction of Peregrine Falcon Order. This told people to kill Peregrines, over 600 were killed. The reason was that the army used pigeons to carry messages back from the battlegrounds but they were worried that Peregrines would kill the pigeons and stop the messages getting back to the Command centre.

My first Bullhead

We have been out down the river fishing with nets this week, we managed to catch some Bullhead and Flounder we also saw some Eels but couldn't quite catch them.

Me with a baby flounder

My flounder

Big mouth Bullhead


Bullhead & Flounder

We have been out walking quite a bit and have seen a lot of plants and flowers.


Field of wheat

Thirsty work

Thistles on the common providing food for birds like Goldfinches

In front of a Sycamore tree

Snail on a Hogweed stem

Rowan berries

Reed Mace




Hazel nuts





Water Dock

Dewberry and very tasty it was too



Ash tree

We went up the common today and i saw my first Green Woodpecker flying overhead like a torpedo. There are a lot of thistles on the common and we saw a flock of 150+ Goldfinch feeding on them, they were making a lot of noise which sounded really cool. We also saw a dead Shrew and Mole, it looked like they had died naturally because there were no signs that they had been killed by a predator.

A dead mole, you can see his big claw for digging

Off the list are

Reed Mace

Flounder (Platichthys flesus)
The Flounder is a flatfish. Flatfish live on the bottom of the sea and rivers. They are divided into two groups depending on if their eyes or on the right side of the fish (right handed flat fish) or the left side (left handed flat fish). Flounders are unusual because they can be either left or right handed flat fish. They mainly live in the sea but the young do live in rivers close to the sea as well, they are the only flatfish that can survive in fresh water. They can change their colour to match the background and camouflage themselves. They feed at night and hide in the day.

Bullhead (Cottus gobio)
Is also called 'Millers thumb'. It lives under stones in fast flowing rivers and has a big mouth. Like sticklebacks, the male Bullhead will look after its young. If you want to catch one, gently turn over stones in a clean river. Remember to put the stones back as you found them.

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
Has pretty purple flowers and is a good food source for caterpillars.

Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
Is a large tree often used for fire wood as it can be burnt as soon as it is cut, fire wood from other trees has to be seasoned (left to dry out for at least a year) before it can be burnt. The seeds of the ash tree are called 'keys'.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)
Is a climbing plant which means it grows and climbs up other plants (or fences) it has a nice smell. Door mice like to strip the bark off this plant and use it to make their nests.

Hazel (Corylus avellana)
This small tree provides a lot of food for wildlife and humans. Maybe even you have eaten a hazelnut. Lots of British wildlife likes to eat these nuts, i do as well. Because so many animals and birds eat the nuts, finding shells is a good way of telling what wildlife is about. Each animal or bird opens the shell in a different way so collect some opened nut shells from your local wood and take a look at this.....


Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)
This plant is a member of the carrot family.

Reed Mace (Typha latifolia)
This plant grows around the edges of our village pond. The light fluffy seeds of this plant look like cotton wool. In the old days they used the seeds to stuff in mattresses to make comfy beds.

Mole (Talpa europea)
Most people have seen mole hills but not many people have seen a real mole. I have only ever seen dead ones. Everyone knows they live underground and eat worms. Did you know that moles are a favourite food of Herons, foxes and Buzzards.

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
This tree is often called the Mountain Ash. It has berries which are poisonous when raw but then turn red and provide food for lots of wildlife. Rowan berries are a favourite food of Waxwings which are really pretty birds that sometimes visit Britain in winter.

Ivy (Hedera helix)
People think that ivy kills trees but its actually just a climbing plant that uses trees as support. Sometimes it can get so big that the weight will brake some branches off the tree though. Lots of birds make their nest in ivy and ivy berries provide a good food supply for them.

Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)
This is a big tree and in Autumn you can see the seeds helicoptering down to the ground.

Dock (Rumex crispus)
Grows everywhere and is supposed to be good to rub on stings from nettles but whenever i get stung i can never find any.

Burdock (Arctium lappa)
This is a big plant and the seeds are covered in sticky hairs or burs. The scientific name 'Arctium' comes from the Greek word arktos which means 'a bear' and refers to the roughness of the tiny burs.

Cleavers (Galium aparine)
You probably know these plants as sticky buds. They are great for sticking to your dads back when he is not looking.

Bullhead & Flounder

Bullhead and Flounder caught on the Ogmore River


They are not on the list but it was so cool seeing them.