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Andy Ankers' Nature Notes - July 2017

Andy's latest instalment of 'Nature Notes' is published here. This month he comments on a vast array of birds in the garden and sightings of many wild flowers both during his regular walk on the Mersey Estuary and in his garden at Wood Farm, Ince.

Nature Notes - July 2017

Andy Ankers

The long awaited Spring has passed all too quickly into Summer. A few days ago the longest day came and went, bringing to mind that the seasons are moving on rapidly. However, the evidence is there to see that this has been a successful breeding season for many of the common garden birds. We now have small flocks of young Starlings and House Sparrows coming into the feeders along with plenty of this year’s young Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Robin, Blackbird and one very tame Pied Wigtail. Our only pair of Swallows have reared their first brood successfully; they fledged last week (20th June) and now the adults are busy again preparing the nest for the second brood. Another recent visitor to the garden is the Song Thrush; each morning it is on the lawn. We have heard them singing close by all Spring but for some reason they have not come into the garden, so this bird is very welcome to help keep down the snail population.

It has been another dry spell with us, no rain for twelve days, so the bird drinkers in the garden have been very busy, needing to be filled up twice most days. Birds do like to bathe as well as drink so you can imagine that after groups of Sparrows or Starlings bathe together, little water is left or a large Woodpigeon has the same effect – it is pleasant to watch.

The June bird count on the River Mersey was, as expected, a low one but this allowed us time to look for wild flowers that were in bloom. Several Sea Aster plants were in full bloom out on the fore-shore. This is very early as we would not expect to see them for another month. Another salt marsh plant in full flower was the Sea-milkwort which is a low growing plant with pale pink flowers. 

My colleagues and I were pleased to see seven Bee Orchids in flower again this year along with a Southern Marsh Orchid on an area of infill land away from the estuary. Also growing close by were several Yellow-wort plants just coming into bloom. The stem leaves are in pairs with their bases fused together, making it appear as if the stem passes through the middle in a single leaf. Here in the Wood Farm garden the wild flowers we have grown over many years – Foxgloves, Mullein or Aaron’s Rod and the Teasels – have all done well despite the dry conditions.

I was hoping for an increase in butterfly records in June but sadly this has not happened to date with just three or four large white butterflies each week. Once the rain arrives it may encourage more chrysalis to hatch.

Photographs in the gallery below, left to right:

Sea-milkwort, Yellow-wort, Bee orchids, Southern Marsh Orchid.

Written on 19th Jul 2017

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