Tarka Challenge

Ten-year-old Rudi Bright, whose Tarka Challenge has been highly praised in South Wales wildlife circles, has taken on a new project - monitoring nest boxes at Coed-y-Bwl nature reserve.

Rudi and nestbox by Richard Marks

Rudi and nestbox by Richard Marks

Reserve volunteers have erected seven new boxes around the six-acre Vale of Glamorgan wood - famous for its spring display of wild daffodils(Narcissus pseudonarcissus). And Rudi - the youngest member of the Wildlife Trust's Bridgend Group - is logging the breeding activities of Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Robins - and a pair of Tawny Owls.

The new boxes - replacing woodpecker-damaged boxes erected ten years ago - were produced by Trust volunteeers at Tondu Nature Centre. And the professionally-made owl box was a gift from the Trustees.

Rudi has already completed a major part of his quest to see and identify all 300-plus species in Henry Williamson's book, Tarka the Otter - a challenge which has taken him to the Scottish highlands and islands in search of rare animals. Amazingly, he managed to see an Otter - and recorded it overnight on a trail camera. And he also tracked down White-tailed Eagles on Mull and Red Squirrels and Pine Martens at Loch Sunnart.So far, Rudi has spotted 208 species - and his efforts have been rewarded with a Tarka Challenge Trophy from the Bridgend Group at their annual members' night.

Meanwhile - at Coed-y-Bwl - Rudi is keeping a watchful eye on the woodland birds, hoping that the new nest boxes will soon be occupied and details logged in his notebook.

Rudi and his dad Mike by Richard Marks

Rudi and his dad Mike by Richard Marks

Volunteer warden Richard Marks said: "Rudi is showing quite a remarkable interest in wildlife at a very early age - and he is getting lots of praise from all over South Wales. He has even been commended by Henry Williamson's son Richard, also a natural history author and warden of a Hampshire nature reserve. "His knowledge of wildlife stems from that early encounter with the animals he read about in Tarka the Otter."

With thanks to Richard Marks for this article