Nature Notes For December

I may be aiming this final report of the year for December but its early November as I write and I’ve just been admiring the brilliant array of colours that adorn the countryside at the moment. The very chilly night a week ago has had its terminal effect on the millions of leaves on every tree thus producing a myriad of yellows, golds, reds and browns. Trouble is that all these leaves will soon be on the ground and that’s not only a mess but can be treacherous to walk on, so as they say, be careful out there.
Worse is the fact that many trees are in some danger and did you know that it’s estimated that 42% of ‘conker’ trees across Europe could face extinction from the moth larvae that burrows its way through the leaf of many each summer? Conker games might not be quite as popular as they used to be but it would be tragic if this British tradition came to an end in this way.
With falling leaves comes falling fruit and I snapped a Red Admiral (picture) on a lovely warm sunny afternoon last month, one of five or six butterflies that flitted and settled on over ripe windfall apples.
I hardly need to tell you that it’s getting colder now and the bird feeders have been a hive of activity. Allison Wells in Belle Vue Road emailed me to say she has literally dozens of Goldfinches, Long Tailed and Blue Tits scrabbling over every morsel being offered. In addition early winter visits from Bramblings have occurred too so that’s a great garden spot for her. So if you want to get birds like this in your garden you need to get the right kind of food into your feeders and I would be happy to supply or advise.
My thanks to Chris White who sent me several good notes in September which I couldn’t include in October. However something else worth reporting came along a couple of weeks back and he is sure he spotted a Peregrine Falcon when he was driving near the Black Dam. This is certainly feasible as there are plenty of waterfowl there which an alpha raptor like a Peregrine would travel miles to get. A Sparrowhawk has also recently been trying to lower the Wood Pigeon population in Chris’s Pelham Close garden leaving a huge pile of grey feathers behind. Another regular ‘spotter’ Stephen Thair in Park Lane also witnessed a Collared Dove coming to a sticky end at the talons of a female Sparrowhawk last month. And he thinks that the Skylarks he saw and heard singing towards Lasham either thought it was spring again or were just happy with the warm sunny conditions that day.
As this is the last feature of 2019 may I wish all my readers and customers a Very Happy Christmas but there will be a flavour of Bird Drop Ins at St Mary’s Christmas Tree festival on 7-8th so hopefully I may see you there.
Rick Bourne
Don’t forget to send all your nature related photos to rickbourne@yahoo.com or naturenotes@basinga.org.uk Or ring 01256 321108 for news. .For all your bird food requirements, order it from me at ‘Bird Drop-ins’ use the former email address or ring me on 07900 648675 to place an order or get a form.

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