Nature Notes - August 2018
The corn harvest has started in the village with a field of winter sown Barley (NB - the photograph is actually a Cheshire field of Wheat rather than Barley!) Despite the very wet spring, the yield was above average. Let's hope that other winter sown crops will yield as well. The spring sown crops may not yield as well due to the shorter growing season and the recent dry weather. The rain fall at Wood Farm in June was only 13.6mm or 0.54 inches with twenty-three dry days. This month to date (the 25th July) we have recorded 25.4mm of 1 inch with nineteen dry days. At least the recent rain re-filled all our water butts so we can water some plants in the garden now.
During this spell of hot dry weather, Barbara has been busy making sure the many bird drinkers we have around the garden are topped up regularly. It has been interesting to observe the antics of some birds. Goldfinches drink frequently but rarely bathe whilst House Sparrows and Starlings come for a drink then decide to bathe. Eleven Sparrows bathing at once is the highest number - needless to say there was little water left in the drinker when they flew away. However, the plants close by the drinker are quite green from splashed water.
As previously mentioned, the Butterfly numbers were very low this year until some three weeks ago when I noted a rapid increase in the numbers coming into our garden. Our neighbour, Alan Whitby, invited me to look around his cottage garden last week. It was a sight for sore eyes with so many flowers at their best but above all it was the number of Butterflies using Alan's garden that was special. We counted twenty six white Butterflies, mainly Large Whites but Green Veined and Small Whites also. Comma, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Small Copper, Small Tortoiseshell and two Blue Butterflies I could not identify.
We think there are two young Greater Spotted Woodpeckers this year, coming to the peanut feeders. When they fledge they have a bright red patch on the top of the head. We have not seen them together but one is still red while the other youngster is losing its red patch.
One bird we have missed this spring is the Wren. All through the winter we had regular sightings but since April no records or even a distant song. The Wren is one bird you often hear before you see it, its song is so easy to recognise.
The Swallows have fledges their second brood and have not been seen for the past few days. The first group of Swallows gathered on the wires outside Wood Farm which is a reminder that autumn is just around the corner as they start their migration south.