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.

Operation Stickle Toad

Out for a ramble

We went out to the river this morning. It dries up in the summer so we went to save the tadpoles, toadpoles and sticklebacks. We collected them in a bucket and moved them to deeper water.

Dad took this picture of the sun shining in the pine forest.

This Large Red Damselfly was sun bathing next to the pond in my garden.

These hover flies were next to the pond too.

We found this spider down by the river, its called Tetragnatha extensa. Look at the picture closely and you can see an aphid and the spines on the stingy nettle.

My brother spotted this cool Crab Spider.
More shiny Dock Beetles

A Green Tortoise Bug

Some cool flies..

 This Small Tortoiseshell butterfly

And when we were wandering around we found some wild strawberries to snack on, yes they were lush.

And in the garden compost bin something from the list was lurking....Ants, and now they are ticked off the list!

Reed Warbler

A Reed Warbler warbling at Parc Slip

Fathers Day

We took dad to Parc Slip nature reserve and bought him a coffee for fathers day. It was raining so we had a quick walk around and managed to see a new bird which is on my list (a Sedge Warbler) and see a Reed Warbler for the first time (not on the list though). Unfortunately we didn't get a photo of them but we did film the Reed Warbler warbling with our mobile phone. We also managed to tick off 2 plants as well.

This Bumblebee was hiding from the rain under the petal of a Yellow Flag

A meadow full of the purple flowers of Ragged Robin
The ragged flower of Ragged Robin

Standing in front of an small Oak Tree


The Reed Warbler was singing away in the Reeds, its the first time i have seen one but its not on the Tarka list.

Off the list are -

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)
This is a declining plant of damp places like marshes and wet meadows. They get the name from the raggedy petals on the flowers.

Oak (Quercus robur)
Everyone knows what an Oak Tree is and its seed the acorn but did you know that you can make a type of coffee from acorns? See http://foragedfoods.co.uk/how-to-make-acorn-coffee/
Oaks are also good for climbing. As they get older some Oaks become hollow and are good for hiding in like this one that me and my brother found -

Wildlife Trust Group Field trip

We went on a field trip yesterday with the Wildlife Trust to a farm in West Wales. We had a bird spotting competition on the way in the car and managed to spot 20 different species. We had a really good day out and saw some very interesting things. It was fun eating our lunch in a barn on a bale of hay.

The sheep didn't mind the rain

We had fun catching grasshoppers

This is a Butterfly Orchid which is a rare plant

We have seen this plant before, its Butterwort which traps insects and feeds off them like a venus fly trap. If you look closely you can see its victims stuck to the leaf.

A nestbox with 11 baby blue tits about to fledge

An Azure Dragonfly sheltering from the rain

Chrysalis of a Burnet Moth

Caterpiller of a Burnet Moth

This cool beetle looks like a jewel and is called Gastrophysa viridula, its a leaf beetle.

You can tell its a female because its abdomen is swollen with eggs.

Tuna sarnies in the Barn

The farm had some lovely woods with a river running through it.

Mossy banks in the river gorge.


What is in a jug of water from my garden pond? watch this to find out.....

And some things are hard to see

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will remember that last year i tried to see a Nightjar but didn't succeed. Sometimes to see things is easy, sometimes you need to be lucky and sometimes you might need more than luck, you might need help. But who can help you?

There are lots of groups out there with people who know loads of stuff. They can show you and teach you. Try your local nature reserve or join your local Wildlife Trust and then you can meet these people.

Late last night i ticked off a biggy from my list, a Nightjar. We went out on a trip with The Glamorgan Bird Club and even though it was cold and wet they managed to show me a Nightjar (thanks for your help GBC). I was surprised how big it was but unfortunately i didn't get to here it calling.

I was tired for school this morning though because i didn't get to bed until midnight. We had to walk up a mountain and into forestry to see it, it was quite scary walking back in the dark. We couldn't take photos for you because it was dark, if you want to know more about Nightjars look here -


Having some refreshments before the walk

Safely back in the car after viewing my first Nightjar

Nightjars are on my list of the 20 most difficult things to see so I'm really pleased i can tick them off -

Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)
Nightjars are crepuscular which means they are active at dusk and dawn. They are really well camouflaged so are very difficult to see in the day. They are really strange birds and you should definitely get out there and see one.

And if you like birds, join your local bird club.

Long Lists

The trouble with long lists is remebering whats on them, sometimes a tick is as easy as looking out of your bedroom window. Tick for Apple tree and Willow

Midnight Invader

This huge insect invaded our house late last night. Its a Cockchafer, they are huge. It buzzed around the house, my dad managed to take a couple of pictures before setting him free.

Back to school and very tired

Last week was half term and we had a busy week. We were out and about a lot, i didnt get any new ticks for my tarka list but i did see some new species, meet my MP and the first minister for Wales, appear in the South Wales Echo (newspaper) and do a quick live radio interview on Radio Wales.

We went for a huge walk at Kenfig dunes and saw (i.d.'s from ispot)

Green Winged Orchid

Small Blue Butterfly

Me and my brother looking for interesting things

Panagaeus bipustulatus

and we had to do some dune jumping while we were there.

We visited Parc Slip nature reserve a few times and spotted....

A Dingy Skipper

Large Red Damselfly

Harlequin Ladybird (an invader that eats native ladybirds)

A green veined white

And a dragon fly nymph

A froghopper

A Poplar Leaf Beetle

And a sparkling Mallard

We walked up a mountain.

At the start

Lost in the middle of a bog

Secret mountain lake

We rested sitting on this sandy beach

There was not a lot of wildlife up the mountain but we did see

A Red Kite

A Dor Beetle

Carabus nemoralis

A poo or pellet full of beetle wings

after the walk we had a nice drink in the pub (the beers are my parents, we had tango)

And then we camped out and Dad cooked my favourite curry for tea.

Around and about we saw

A jackdaw eating some bacon rind from my sandwich

Southern Marsh Orchid


Drinker Caterpillar

I think that about sums it up.