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.
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.
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