Public Postbox

This page is for anyone who doesn’t blog but would like to share nature images, stories, comments or observations. If you would like to post here please read the T+C’s bit attached to this page and if that’s all OK email your picture(s) and text to me and I will post them here within the following few days.


9th July 2013 – the Astex serpent

The week before last there was much excitement when a snake appeared in the lobby at the place where I work. Unfortunately I wasn’t on hand to assist in the identification and the capture or our interloper. But Simon, our facilities manager, had the presence of mind to take a photograph of it before ushering it into a box and releasing it outside in the undergrowth, and he was kind enough to give me a copy to share with you.

Astex serpent

The snake turned out to be a grass snake, Natrix natrix, they live near water and feed predominantly on frogs and other amphibians. They are one of two resident serpents in the UK, the other being the venomous adder, but the grass snake is non-venomous but can produce an unpleasantly pungent secretion to deter predators.

We all had the utmost respect for the snake because it managed to negotiate the revolving door to get into the building, a feat which has  baffled many human visitors!


15th September 2012 – Northern Harrier photographed by Eden Muir in the region of Frelighsburg, Quebec, Canada

My good friend and correspondent on The Naturephile, Robert, emailed me a few days ago after I posted about marsh harriers at RSPB Titchwell in Norfolk, and shared two photographs that his friend, Eden, had taken after inadvertently flushing a northern harrier:

It looks as though it had been busy securing a meal and was otherwise engaged and failed to notice the presence of a human! Consequently Eden got very, very close to what I guess is probably an otherwise elusive bird, hence this great shot of the harrier clutching a small rodent in its talons.

And if you thought that photograph was a bit of a gem…

I think this picture is absolutely remarkable, the detail on the underwing, and the eye, and the talons grasping the prey are superb!

So thanks to Robert for sending the images and Eden for taking them and allowing me to share them here.


15th April 2012 – common lizard and adder from Danbury Common, Essex photographed by Chris Carroll

After my failed attempts to photograph adders a couple of weeks ago at Danbury Common, Chris has seen several this weekend and sent me a picture of one along with a common lizard:

Common lizard – Zootoca vivipara

In Chris’s words: “2 hours of patiently waiting for this little guy to sit in the right place finally paid off”.

14th April 2012 – Leucistic blackbird – photographed by Paul Hollinghurst at Melbourne, Cambridgeshire

Leucistic male blackbird

This amazing looking ‘blackbird’ has been seen by my friend, Ross, around his work place in Melbourne near Cambridge, and photographed by Ross’s colleague, Paul, who generously allowed me to publish it here. It’s not an albino where an animal is totally lacking in the single pigment, melanin, but is ‘leucistic‘ which is a condition caused by failure of pigment cells to fully differentiate. That can lead to partial or total loss of pigmentation, but in this case the head and eye are still almost normal. I don’t know if there are any other physiological ramifications of this condition and I don’t know if it can affect a boys chances with the ladies, but I imagine it would render a normally dark coloured bird more susceptible to detection by predators such as sparrowhawks.


17 responses to “Public Postbox

  1. Hi Finn
    I have no idea how to contact you other than here. You tried to reach my new blog but I have another one now so that “new one” is defunct. Anything you want to know about permaculture I will try to give you a hand with. Here’s my (actual) new blog if you want to get in touch. narf7 (Fran)

    • Hello Fran, great to hear from you and thanks for getting in touch. Will re-establish contact through your newest blog… and I’ll drop you a line here if that fails… Cheers. Finn

  2. A new deer conservation group has been formed to support the Isle of Wight’s wild deer population see

  3. Congratulations, Finn!

    I have nominated your blog for the Field of Flowers Award.

    More on this nomination is at

  4. This public postbox is great – I like the participatory blogging ethos! And the whole blog’s excellent, by the way.

  5. Hi Finn
    Last summer I thought I saw Red Kites flying over land near our house in Impington. Do you think it’s possible that they were Red Kites and have you ever seen any when out on your walks in this area?

    • Hello Sue, they could definitely have been red kites. I’ve seen them in the fields north of the village, over the centre of the village by the infant school and there was one in the fields by the guided busway for at least a couple of weeks last year. And someone else told me a youngster took up residence by the Doles for a couple of weeks last year too. So I reckon your birds may well have been kites. Did you see more than one at the same time? I’ve only ever spotted singletons.

      • I saw one near to the guided busway at Oakington station before there were any buses running. It was very low, got an amazing view of it.

      • Hello Richard, thanks for letting me know about your red kite sighting. There have definitely been a few in the area.

  6. Hello Finn, thank you for providing the map of your North Histon walks. We live in Cottenham and today I took my eldest son for a walk each with a pair of binoculars, something I haven’t done for years but I’ve never lost the interest. Starting at the Linnet Hedge I’m pretty certain we saw a couple of linnets on the overhead cables, the pinky belly was just noticable, we definitely saw goldfinches here. Further on, by the Poplar, we saw a yellowhammer along the edge of the ditch. There were plenty of skylarks around in the bean fields. I wanted to make it to the yellowhammer hedge but we decided to turn back at the bonfire. We also saw dunnocks, greenfinches and a couple of small brown birds I didn’t recognise, possibly a whitethroat which I saw you had mentioned, I don’t think I’ve seen one before. P.S. I’m friends with Ross who works in Melbourn, he pointed me at your blog. Thanks again, Richard.

    • Hello Richard, you’re very welcome, it’s great that my map was useful to you and that you’ve rekindled your interest in the birdlife in the same fields! Sounds like you had a good walk and saw lots of the birds I see over there. The linnet are often around the power cables at this time of year and there are regularly yellowhammers in the hedges near the poplar, there was a flock of between 10-20 of them there this winter when it got very cold. Other little brown ones there at the moment are corn bunting, reed bunting, whitethroat, meadow pipit, and chiffchaff, any of which could be the ones you saw, it’s a good place for the small brown birds. I’m really pleased you visited my blog and found it useful, I’ll buy Ross a beer for pointing you at the Naturephile 😉

  7. You’ve been nominated for the One Lovely Blog award!

    Here are the steps for the award:

    Name the blogger who awarded you this fantastic award
    List 7 random facts about yourself
    Award 15 other bloggers this award

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