wildlife round up........
April 9th 2021
Hairy Feet and Nutty Nuthatches
Whilst some folks on the Newport Road have seen their first Swallows I am sorry that I cannot add my name to that list. These are not the only migrants seen locally in the last few weeks. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs are recorded singing by Anne out at Caynton and they are now in some numbers in and around the village. The Chiffchaffs seem to be singing in every small group of trees you pass. Neil has spotted three Wheatears (image below) in the ploughed field near to the Edgmond end to the canal.
The birds seem more optimistic about spring than perhaps the weather suggests!
With night-time temperatures below zero on some nights and daytime temperatures not getting much above 6 degrees centigrade for several weeks.
But many birds, wildflowers and trees have just cracked on. The Snowdrops missed the snow but the Red dead nettle, White Deadnettle, Coltsfoot, and Dandelion are beginning to jewel the hedgerow bottom. The Blackthorn is better than ever this year. The Adney road has a hedge covered in flowers that stretch for some distance. On that same day a flock or two hundred plus Linnets flew from a tree near to the farm. It does seem that some birds like Linnets, Chaffinches and Goldfinches have reformed flocks given the change in temperature.
The bees on warmer days are out and about. But the very black Hairy-footed flower Bees are buzzing fiercely to and fro around the Lungwort (pulmonaria) even on the coldest days. They have warm vests! They have a very discernible sharp buzz compared to other bees, I suspect they are capable of a very fast wing beat and this may account for their amazing ability to hover and dart around amongst the flower heads. They are territorial and defend their territory against rivals and drive them from their mini territories. Red Tailed, Early Garden, Tree and Carder Bees are also to be found on early flowering hedgerow and garden plants. The usual early visit from Bee Flies were also noted.
It’s a good time to take your torch out and check your local or garden pond at night. What by day seems to be a relatively empty pool of water can by night turn into something live with newts, frogs, beetles and dragonfly nymphs. My garden pond is full of Smooth Newts and Paula’s Great crested Newts have returned to the pond to breed.
My garden meadow continues to develop. There is always a surprise round the corner. A dark Fritillary showed up last week (Image at the top of the page) despite the snow and hail. I have an early grass out and in flower already.
The hedgehogs are busy in the village. We get lots of reports about what hoggy antics are going on in village gardens. Marion has at least two animals now coming into her garden and Lizzy has at last got a single hedgehog returned to her garden after the mysterious disappearance of her regulars last year.
The numbers or hedgehogs in our garden are continuing to rise which is very encouraging given our badger incident last year! We have seen some competition over food but no mating rituals yet. In previous years we have tried Johnsons Hedgehog Food from Amazon, it is a dry insect biscuit. The hedgehogs wouldn’t touch it, but this year, they love it!
Just thought I would mention this because feeding wet foods in the warmer times of the year can be a bit unpleasant when it comes to washing up!
Just checked one of my Hedgehog boxes to see if it had been used for hibernation.
I guess that is a definite yes then!
At the end of March, we had one very warm day. We went out to check for bat activity. We are very keen to get a measure of exactly what types of bats we get locally. There was plenty of activity around the church and Pipers Lane and low flying Pipistrelle bats dipped over our heads in the late evening as the smell of very early barbeques drifted across the evening air. Neil recorded Daubenton’s bat out on the Weald Moors, this species loves to hunt over water and dips down to pick up struggling insects trapped on the surface of pools and rivers.
Our female Nuthatch (above) has been busy chucking out the old sparrow nest from apartment 2 and 3 in our other sparrow box (4 hole), on the side of the neighbour’s house. Only the female nest builds and the male sits around calling. This is the first time a nuthatch has nested in the garden but not in the special nuthatch box I made for it!! It has been interesting to watch different bird nesting behaviour this year. Sparrows painstakingly remover last years nesting material by grabbing it and flying out from the box to dispose of it well away from the nest. Both male and female house sparrows take part. The Nuthatch female does all the nest building and simply grabs a chunk of old nest, sticks her head out of the hole and lets its fall or blow away in the wind. She managed to empty two boxes in a morning. The sparrows have been taking weeks over it!
Both Nuthatch and House Sparrow lose track of which holes in the apartment they are using. Its hilarious. The Nuthatch spent all day yesterday going into apartment 2 and 3 in the 4 hole box. First it emptied both, then it took nest material into both. It smashed some very sizeable chunks off an old rotting sleeper and tried hard to get them through the hole.
The House Sparrows have moved between all three holes in the three hole box. At one point the male would be taking nesting material into one box and the female taking it out. On another occasion the male would be taking nest material into hole 2 and the female into hole 1. They completely lost the plot for several weeks until eventually, they settled on apartment 1. In this period they visited over 60 times a day, mostly in the morning, through till lunch and then things get pretty quiet after that.
Don’t Forget if you have anything to report we would love to hear from you. Email Jon and he will include your observations/sightings and records in the latest EWG Wildlife Round Up.