Nature Notes for August 2021

Despite a pretty dismal end to June and beginning of July later broods of young birds seem to have flourished as there are numerous comings and goings of fluffy and erratic
Three young swallows waiting for mumflying fledglings around the feeders in the garden. Our own Great Tit family from our ‘G-R’ post/nest box all left their cosy home successfully and though that’s great we do miss the endearing cheeping from inside as mum or dad delivered yet another juicy caterpillar. Another endearing sight was captured by my youngest Laura Haystaff and is of three young Swallows perched on a rafter next to their nest (see photo, right), patiently waiting for the next insect ‘soup’ to be brought to them. It was fortunate indeed that these little guys have survived as one parent was taken by a Sparrowhawk about a week previously, witnessed in horror by Laura. It did appear however that there may have been three adult birds around the stables in the first place and it’s not unheard of that a lone bird will assist a pair in raising a brood. Fortunate indeed then if that was the case as it didn’t spell the otherwise likely demise of the chicks for lack of sustenance.
It’s clearly worrying however that the numbers of Swifts, Swallows and particularly House Martins are well down on previous years and the real concern is that because these birds usually come back to their birthplace to breed in following seasons, what happens in the long-term when they miss a year or worse, don’t ever come back?
On the good news front there does seem to be a goodly crop of Warblers that have journeyed from Africa and to those of you tuned to hearing birdsong one couldn’t fail to pick up Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Garden Warblers (very similar to the latter) and if near the river, Reed and Sedge Warblers.
Stephen Thair, a regular contributor, reported several Reed Warblers singing near Tithe Barn and Garden Warblers twittering away near the railway embankment. To my shame I’ve
not perambulated down there recently and have been wondering whether the short but explosive song of the Cetti’s Warbler has returned from last years’ lovely lockdown summer?
Marbled White - Jim AndrewsThere seems to be a mix of views about butterfly numbers locally too. It’s worth remembering however that certain species are very time conscious during the season, with Brimstones for example the first on the Red Admiral feeding - Alan Morris wing in early April whereas Painted Ladies often appear in late summer, sometimes drawn up from the continent on warm airstreams so there is time yet to spot your favourite.
The recent cool windy damp conditions haven’t exactly make ideal butterfly spotting possible either so Alan Morris (Red Admiral) and Jim Andrews (Marbled White) are to be thanked for capturing these beauties feeding on their respective flowers.

Rick Bourne

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