Nature Notes for June 2020

As you will have all realised by now, the May edition of the Basinga was only available online due to the logistics of printing and delivery. Whilst most people could have accessed this there are still many who cannot, which is a shame as I know it is a comforting read.
So, in my May article (written early April) I waxed lyrically of the clean air and comparative silence around the parish and a month on its still the same. Its great for nature and the climate but not perhaps for people’s mental well-being nor the economy; that aside, lets learn from this about how it can actually be when we all slow down.

I’ve received some beautiful photographs of local wildlife, in particular from Jim Andrews and Jamie Hall. Jamie is in fact a professional photographer but has allowed me to submit a portrait of a Starling (left), which is not perhaps the first bird one thinks about as being colourful but the variation in its iridescent plumage that shows up is stunning, or perhaps I should say Start-ling. Jamie also included a montage of Swallow photos, all taken in the Huish area as the birds arrived from their wintering grounds in Africa.
Jim took a number of images from the Millfield, an area that really comes to life this time of year with plants birds and mammals showing themselves to great effect. Purple Orchids, one of several rare flowers to now flourish in this valuable greenspace are showing well and very much worth the effort to seek out. In a month, Jim racked up an outstanding 101 bird species sightings there and also tipped me off that at least one Nightingale had passed through the field, recognisable because of it’s legendary song. Sadly, I missed that but did get to hear the Cetti’s Warbler that is still (at time of writing) in scrub by the Loddon near Tithe Barn. Additionally, a Reed Warbler may have set up home amongst the vegetation on the opposite bank as it as making one heck of a din during my same visit (7th May).

Christine Stuart reported Swifts overhead at Lychpit, Stephen Thair saw three at Park Lane and I can indeed confirm their presence as I heard that familiar summer scream overhead as they zoomed over The Street.

Stephen Thair spied a Lesser Whitethroat taking a quick dip in his garden pond, a species which can often also be seen and heard in the Millfield. A Common Whitethroat was vigorously singing its scratchy babbling tune, in competition with the purer notes of a Garden Warbler near Hods Farm as Mrs Bourne and I took our daily exercise last week (6th May). A photo of the former bird, by kind permission of Jim Andrews, right.
I’m sure you’ve noticed too that warm weather brings out bugs of all shapes and sizes, many of which become part of the essential food chain. One that probably doesn’t is the May Bug or Cockchafer a big brown ugly beast that has startled a number of people this week as they seemingly just fall out of the sky on to a patio. They are harmless, but they just don’t look it!

 

My bird food regulars have occasionally asked me if I have any hedgehog food and I now have so let me know if you’d like some. My good lady has put a handful of these pellets and some dried mealworms out in a dish every evening and between 9.30 to 11.30pm up to three hogs have found the offerings just about every night. In order for us to see the activity through the patio window, we placed a solar spotlight just so and they really don’t seem to mind being illuminated while they graze.

However, although the traffic hazard to Hedgehogs may have lessened somewhat, many die or get badly injured every year from lawn strimmers, garden netting, forks and spades thrust carelessly into garden waste piles, and steep sided ponds. Please make sure that your garden is as hog friendly as possible, they will reward you by clearing it of pests like slugs.
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.
Rick Bourne