Nature Notes For March

Since I wrote February’s notes a variety of weather has hit Southern England – as I write its mild, damp and breezy (10th) yet this time last week I was shovelling 6 inches of snow from my driveway.  I then swept my patio steps and scattered a good helping of mixed seed and suet pellets which was met with some enthusiasm from our feathered friends. Sneaky me had also harvested and frozen several hundred pyracantha berries that I’d pruned in October.  I added some of these with the other offerings and the Blackbirds wolfed them down. But then there were LOTS of Blackbirds and I’m quite certain that many of them were continental birds, driven here on the cold east winds of 2 weeks ago.  They just looked slightly different with darker bills, somehow less animated but possessing a bit of a temper with squabbles breaking out every 10 seconds!

I’m glad I kept these berries as you might recall I’d mentioned last month about there still being lots left on our holly tree but that must have been read by every Redwing in Hampshire because within a week of writing there wasn’t a single fruit left!  Berry laden trees offer a splash of colour for us and sustenance for the birds so why not consider planting a shrub this year that will produce such fruit?

With February therefore well on its way, Spring is around the corner and the famous Belle Vue daffodils are shining brightly, and have been since the 10th of January.  Snowdrops are in full flower and my ‘Weather App’ suggests a decent week ahead (good, I’m playing golf Wednesday and I have a new crab apple tree to plant!). Of course we shouldn’t forget the adage about March, ‘In like a lion out like a lamb’.  We shall see.

Snow can bring animals into our lives that we might not normally see and two of our readers had fox visitors to their gardens.  Roger Rummy in Holly Drive looked out to see one just six feet away from his window that fancied a drink from a nearby bucket until realising it was car wash water and very soapy!  That stopped him.   Mary and David Rice of Byfleet Avenue noted a trail of footprints on their lawn in the morning after the fall and with help from the internet they deduced it was also a fox, although a track by a coyote looked similar. I think in Old Basing it’s safe to assume it was the former!

Hopefully we wont have anymore of the white stuff and that we really are in for an early spring.  Birds will begin to pair up to select a nest site so why not give them a hand by leaving suitable materials around the garden such as dried grass or hay, wool strands or hair of the dog? If you need to groom your pooch regularly then save the fur and come April-time, secrete lumps of it tied to a post or pinned to the lawn.   Numerous birds, blue tits in particular will use this as a liner and will love you forever.


Rick Bourne


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