Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Nature Nuggets

Things you might not know about the natural world...

Superb Fairy Wren The Australian Superb Fairy Wren has a cunning way of detecting a parasitical intruder like a young cuckoo. The mother teaches her chicks a password which she includes in her song while they are still inside their eggs. The young cuckoo does not pick up this password. Once the eggs hatch, the mother abandons the nest if any chick can't give the password which is a note of a particular length and tone that is unique to that bird. We can tell that the note is learned, not inherited because when an egg is switched from one nest to another, the chicks use the foster mother's password. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Natterer's Bat 150

This picture of  a Natterer's bat was taken in SWT reserve Harridge Woods, Keeper's Cottage, whilst I was doing hibernation survey for BCT, (writes Adel Avery,  Reserve Warden, Harridge Woods.)  There were 10 of them in the cellar, and I will visit again next month to check numbers/species present for monitoring. These bats prefer cooler roosting sites, and are often found near to entrance to caves/cellars, usually not appearing in hibernation roosts until December, numbers peaking in January and February. In their efforts to lodge in small crevices they can be found in almost any position, including lying on their back or sides, or even resting on their heads.  For the last two winters we have seen a rare Barbastelle bat, also appear when weather gets extremely cold.    

For more on bats and Harridge Woods look here.

Flying Dragon

Draco volans, or the Flying Dragon, can spread out folds of skin attached to its movable ribs to form "wings" that it uses to glide from tree to tree over distances upwards of 8 metres  Its wings are brightly coloured with orange, red and blue spots and stripes, and they provide camouflage when folded. It is native to the southwest tropical forests of Asia and India. For a video of the Flying Dragon in action, look here.

Photograph and text, modified, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Common Dolphin

Dolphins do sleep with one eye open and rest one half of their brain but this is not the easiest way to tell a dolphin from a porpoise. Dolphins tend to have prominent, elongated “beaks”. The dolphin’s hooked or curved dorsal fin also differs from the porpoise’s triangular dorsal fin, which is more than half-way along its back. Generally speaking, dolphin bodies are leaner, and porpoises’ more portly.  And dolphins leap while porpoises loop. For more about marine mammals visit our Living Seas page.         

Photograph of Common Dolphin courtesy of Wikipedia.