Nature Notes - July 2018
I am pleased to report that I am able to move around a little more outside now for short periods. This means I can observe what is going on around the garden and beyond from my garden chair and the help of my binoculars. The Swallows fledged their first brood two weeks ago and all the indications are that they are going to have a second brood in the old pig sty at the back of the house so we can watch them from the kitchen window. It never ceases to amaze me the high speed at which the adult birds fly into the sty - it is only about 3 metres (10 feet) from the entrance to the nest in the top corner of the roof.
The only nest box I could watch had a brood of Blue Tits in it and I was very fortunate to be sitting outside when they fledged. I counted eight young fly across the garden to the Oak tree where there would be a plentiful supply of the green caterpillars to sustain them.
The Goldfinches have bred locally and have started to bring their youngsters to the feeders which contain sunflower hearts. We have started to ration them as they, along with the House Sparrows, empty a feeder in no time. In our old hen-cote, now used as a potting shed, I was looking for some plant food left over from last year. I opened the door to a small wooden unit on the wall that has a hole cut in the front to find a Robin sitting on its nest staring at me. I do not know who was more surprised! I am pleased to say that the young Robins have fledged recently. Barbara saw one of the youngsters with its speckled breast hiding under the hen-cote.
Species like Blackbirds and Thrushes must be struggling to find enough worms with this continued dry spell, so I was very interested to watch a Blackbird on the lawn. It flew in with a beak full of worms then put them down in a pile and started listening intently at a spot on the lawn. It then bounced with both feet on the spot and listened again. This was repeated several times but no worm appeared so it gathered the worms and flew off over the garden wall. Interesting bird behaviour.
The Blackcap is a late arrival at Wood Farm this year but it is lovely to hear its song again.
On Tuesday 19th June we had a trip to the RSPB Burton Reserve. It is ideal for me at present as I can sit in the visitors centre and watch without any walking. Having a chat to the warden, I was pleased to hear they already have forty young Avocets to the free flying stage and the numbers of young Redshank and Lapwing are well up on last year. Sadly the Cattle Egret has not bred on the Reserve this year but is still about, being recorded several times a week on the Reserve. We watched several female Shelduck with a crèche of twenty-seven very young ducklings.
Returning to local news, several friends have contacted me to say they have heard and seen the Cuckoo this Spring. This is good news as no reliable records were made last year locally.