Nature Notes For July


There are few Swallows or House Martins to report so far, although a reasonable number of Swifts have now been seen and heard around the village.  Good reports however of fledged young from residents with usual garden nesters of Blackbird, Robin, House Sparrow and Blue Tits all doing very well it seems. Considering the very heavy rain and cool weather we are having right now, that is very good news.  Thanks go to Stephen Thair, Tony Stoney, Terry McAnish (plus photographs) and Allison Wells for their information.

In addition, Allison reports Linnets visiting her feeders and the recently declining Greenfinch have been noticeable in Stephen’s patch, and indeed in my own. Perhaps most odd was a Tufted Duck, startled in John Watsons garden in Cavalier Road, and whilst Mallards spending time away from watery areas isn’t unusual, seeing this duck species around here is bizarre. See John’s photo of the duck on Basinga Extra

Wet and chilly springs are always a concern when young birds fledge so it was reassuring to see an article posted by the World Economic Forum last week about the absolute proof how Britain’s bird lovers were truly making a difference to the previously declining population of popular species over recent decades. 

It’s even believed that Great Tits now have developed beaks 0.3mm longer that enable them to reach further into seed feeders. Goldfinches were only regularly seen at 2% of feeding stations in 1972, but now it’s a staggering 87%.  Surveys and best estimates now suggest that the general public that put out feed support up to a whopping 196 million birds, which is an astonishing figure.

BBC’s Countryfile was very interesting last night (9th June) as it featured the history and health of Hampshire’s chalk streams. Sadly it didn’t include the Loddon but it was clear that the Itchen for example and some of its tributaries were suffering a little due to pesticide incursions. Although there are of course strict environmental controls for farmers and nearby industrial areas it seems likely that loopholes exist where substances unhelpful to a flourishing habitat are still finding their way into the watercourse. Unless monitoring is increased then perhaps it’s down to local wildlife groups to be vigilant about negative changes to aquatic plants, invertebrates and fish. A small group of Basing residents have started monthly litter clean ups along the local river banks and perhaps this could be developed further to repair damage that’s clearly in evidence along its footpaths and margins? Please contact me if you are interested in learning more and to potentially take part.

Finally, thanks to Jim Andrews for conducting the Millfield Walk back in late May for about a dozen enthusiasts. Helpfully, the weather was kind and the warm weather leading up to the day had encouraged a few migrants to arrive so the gathering were rewarded with singing Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs to name but a few. We also noted several Swifts, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Kestrel, a variety of Tits and in one field, between 50 and 75 Starlings, many with young that noisily flitted through the trees or were using their dagger-like beaks to probe the grassed areas for leatherjackets. Another early morning stroll was planned for 20th June, hopefully it was as successful as the first. 

Rick Bourne

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 Dropins’ (use the former email address or ring me on 07900 648675 to place an order or get a form).

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