Nature Notes For April

So, who spotted the deliberate mistake?? No, it wasn’t ground-hog day, but you did read February’s notes again in March due to an unfortunate editorial faux pas. The real submission was quickly uploaded to Basinga Extra and it may be appearing in this month’s Basinga alongside Aprils notes, depending on space. If not and you missed them then apologies from everyone here. Please click here to see March Nature Notes or browse to the webpage.

I’d been talking about birds and animals in the snow (remember the plastering we had a few weeks back?) but now it’s about the imminent spring and that fabulous warm blast we got from the south in late February. I even cut my back lawn, the earliest I ever have!

The first frog spawn observation came from Stephen Thairs pond on 1st March which was good news because we know that the frog population took a hammering last year when the beast from the east obliterated millions of spawn, tadpoles and adult frogs. Stephen also reported the first Skylarks singing over the Common and had noticed Starlings and Jackdaws collecting nest material

There were butterflies aplenty too, mainly Brimstone, which are always the first to hatch, but there were Red Admirals and a Comma reported too. Phil Males was in the right place (top end of Pyotts Hill) on 23rd February as he witnessed a whole hatch of Brimstones counting 12 in a 200 yd stretch. Phil’s walk to Basingstoke from Lychpit alongside the main line railway 2 days earlier produced a common lizard sighting, the reptile basking on a paving stone in a sunny sheltered spot and it is really early to see such a thing. Sadly, it’s all too a rare sight now around the village too but I have fond memories when I was a lad of looking for lizards and slow-worms is so many places virtually all holiday long but development and change of habitat has made both all too scarce now.

I’ve noticed Blue Tits very actively cleaning out nest boxes of old debris and mites as they begin to select their breeding sites and with 4 or 5 boxes around my garden, and all being investigated, I’m hoping that a couple might get used. A pair of Tits will need to find around 800 insects or grubs per day to sustain their brood so a decent sized territory in which to forage for them is essential.

Belated thanks to Sue and Frank McKenna of Paddockfields for their sightings and photographs last month. Their back garden, backing on to the Loddon, has always been a haven for all sorts of wildlife and the snowy photos were of Egrets, plumped up Pheasants, singing Blackbirds and, over the river, two female Muntjacs.

Finally, it was with sorrow I learned of the passing of Nikki Parker of Paddockfields. A lovely lady and customer of mine, Nicky was always keen to know what was being seen around the village and was rightly proud of the Swallows that nested every summer at the top of her car lean-to. She loved having them, though not their droppings, which she said was a small price to pay for the privilege. She will be greatly missed.

Rick Bourne

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