Nature Notes For January

From best memory, and with assistance from former editor Irene Allaway, I think I’ve now been writing Nature Notes for some 25 years, or, if anyone remembers precisely when he left the village, it was from when Peter Sibley finished his stint as the ‘birdman’! The point is that looking back over many years of saved notes (not all unfortunately) it’s amazing how weather conditions and therefore animal and bird behaviour, follow a very close pattern.

Though we hear of rapid climate change and milder wetter conditions ahead, go back more than a decade and you’ll find that things were much the same, for instance, the Boxing Day walk has not required thermals, ice picks and crampons for 30 years, just wellies, sou’westers and jolly good weatherproofs!

Territory arguments will soon be breaking out amongst our garden birds, especially Robins, but one little job I did during December was to put some nest box hole-reducing plates over boxes that had large or damaged holes. Whilst this was in preparation for the Blue Tit nesting season, it was also so these boisterous little birds could use the boxes during the long cold winter nights in which to roost, otherwise they might not do so if the fear of a larger species taking control of their home existed. Talking of Blue Tits, and Coal for that matter, we suddenly had a literal invasion of each species in the past couple of weeks, all frantically feeding themselves up two or three times a day, so we are getting through the songbird and sunflower hearts at a rate of knots.

A lovely email was received from Mary Lovejoy in Oakfields, Lychpit, and some accompanying pics of a three-legged Roe deer and her fawn, shots that were taken during the early summer. The lady also shared a pic of a Moorhen which found its way into her garden, the property which is about half a mile from water (as the Moorhen flies)! Odd.

John Watson here in Cavalier Road spotted a hedgehog out and about during a sunny November day but two Magpies had also seen it and began some mischief, pecking at it and generally annoying the prickly chap. Unperturbed he scuttled off but it was an unusual occurrence and as John jokingly said afterwards it’s a pity Magpies can’t treat wood pigeons in the same way.

This might perhaps reduce the huge numbers that blight our gardens and rooftops every day, endlessly defecating as they plod on!

Stephen Thair sent some photos in of owl pellets, which for the uninitiated, are little oval shaped balls of fur, teeth and bones regurgitated from the bird’s previous meal of mouse or vole.

If you’re not squeamish these pellets are fascinating objects to break apart and examine and tell us so much about what the bird has hunted for.

Hopefully I’ve not put you off your turkey and trimmings so just time to wish you belated season’s greetings and a very happy New Year.

Don’t forget to send all your nature-related photos to emails: 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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