Nature Notes for January 2020

It is always odd writing for sometimes a month in advance of a date you might read said article but when it’s a whole New Year now that is weird! I do hope you all had a great Christmas and were perhaps given a camera nest box or feeding station so that you may watch our feathered friends in action. If indeed you now possess either and are wondering about location then any nest box should be positioned so the entrance hole is facing north or east and unless it’s a Robin box, it should be at least six feet, preferably eight feet, off the ground.
Bird food table and feeding stations should be located close to trees, hedges or large shrubs which offer the birds cover in case of an emergency getaway! But if you need any advice with this or foodstuffs please give me a ring.
The winter months can offer some superb spotting opportunities if one is prepared to suffer the wet or cold and Stephen Thairs perambulations took him to Tundry Pond near Dogmersfield, so whilst not being ‘quite local’ the Great Egret was a rare sighting. Now breeding on the open spaces of the Somerset Levels this large white heron isn’t that rare in the UK but certainly is much less common than its ‘baby brother’ the Little Egret which have been hereabouts for a decade or more.
As with every New Year, I will keep everything crossed that we might be lucky enough to see some Waxwings that will arrive along the East coast about now, along with thousands of Redwings. The trouble is that these Scandinavian beauties are seeking bright red berries on which to gorge but the pesky Woodpigeons have already taken half of our local cotoneaster and pyracantha fruit!
The winter also brings other hazards on the roads other than ice or snow. Deer start to think about the rut from late October to mid January so collisions with traffic, particularly around dawn and dusk, become more likely than ever. Old Basing’s countryside is quite densely populated with Roe Deer and Muntjacs, which I have seen for myself recently as I have been beating for a local shoot every two weeks. On each occasion we have flushed 10 to 12 deer and whilst they are of course off limits to the guns, the deer don’t know that and its jaw dropping to see them speed off from under one’s feet to hundreds of yards away in seconds, clearing every obstacle that they meet. A fox legged it away in a field near Poors Farm last week and I also spooked a Snipe which shot skywards at a rate of knots and altitude that made it completely safe.

Finally, November’s Nature Notes dealt with the increase in spider activity around the village (yes, I’m sorry I’ve mentioned that word again)! Well, Pete Wooldridge saw my notes and took a few photos of a False Black Widow living happily in his garage. Though these little arachnids aren’t deadly they might concern some so I’ll spare telling you where Pete resides in case of widespread panic in the region of Park Avenue. Doh! Stupid boy Pike.
Rick Bourne
Don’t forget to send all your nature-related photos to or or tel. 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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