Nature Notes for February 2020

Apparently, the days are each getting longer now by a couple of seconds so in the time it took you to read this sentence you used it up! But seriously, as soon as January is through, I personally really start believing its Spring even though the worst weather is probably still to come. Certainly, there are some very clear signs of the next season with numerous bulbs peeping through, buds on numerous trees and in Oliver’s Walk some Snowdrops came into bloom in the garden of Ann and Michael Price on December 30th, a sight to surely gladden the heart.

Though as I write (8th January) there hasn’t been a huge amount of rain in the past fortnight what had fallen previously is still coming off the fields in vast quantities into the ditches and streams. The Loddon and its tributaries therefore have a very healthy flow which helps to flush some of the dead leaves and debris that built up over the dry summer. Regardless, we need to give some places a helping hand so myself and a couple more able (?) bodied people are going to get stuck into the streams around the viaduct area. If anyone would like to assist us, probably for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning then please ring or email me.

The reason this is important is because we are fortunate enough to have chalk streams here with gravel beds but years of neglect and extraction have left many brooks clogged with ‘our’ rubbish, sticks and mud. The impact is no spawning trout or sticklebacks, no likelihood of indigenous crayfish, no freshwater shrimps which all equal poor conditions for kingfishers, moorhens, coots, ducks or voles. Reducing the number of places mink can hide away would also be a step in the right direction.

By the time you read this we will have hopefully started so ramblers amongst you might begin to see some differences.

Lack of fishing in these places also drives Herons into gardens as anyone with a pond will testify so when Phil Males spotted one gazing into his on several occasions before Christmas he said, ‘Good luck mate, there aren’t any fish’. However, Phil is my main ‘frog spawn reporter’ so we think the grey one was perhaps seeking out hibernating amphibians around the nooks and crannies of the pond.

Equally bold, or perhaps lost, was the muntjac that ran beside my car under The Street bridge on Christmas Eve. It tried to duck onto the railway embankment but couldn’t so headed back in a panic toward the church and through the parked traffic, probably ending up in the old cemetery. I know for sure they frequent there as several cyclamen plants on our parents’ graves have been neatly nibbled!

Recent spots include a cheeky little mouse in a peanut feeder in Pete Wooldridge’s garden, Blackcaps in the gardens of Stephen Thair in Park Lane and of our neighbours Martin and Claire here in Cavalier Road.

Jim Andrews sent me a cracking photo yesterday of a Kingfisher perched by the Loddon on an overhanging branch; this photograph is on the cover of this magazine.

Don’t forget to send all your nature related photos to

or 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.

Rick Bourne

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