Nature Notes For May 2020

Despite the weird times we are currently living in, summer arrived like a superhero to the rescue which has allowed us with gardens or those who just like exercise, to at least glean some solace from self isolation.

What it has also done is to give us chance to smell the roses, or more accurately, check out the daffs, tulips, blossom and everything that’s suddenly burst into life. Birdsong has become prolific and loud, thanks to the silence that has fallen the skies above and our major roads to the south and east. We here are fortunate that the Old Basing area doesn’t suffer from much air pollution but even that must have improved too. Clearly many parts of world including where this terrible pandemic originated can now see the sky and smell clean air.

Wildlife has taken advantage of this lull in human activity and there have been videos of wild goats eating everything green in a Welsh town and donkeys and ponies wandering down Beaulieu high street.

Here, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of corvids (not covids!) flying around our roofs and gardens, as they’re now not disturbed by traffic or people. I’m hopeful that we might see the hedgehog revival continue too as it did last year and many of you have reported these prickly favourites in your gardens. With night-time traffic cut by 90% they may just have a better chance of survival on the roads. I’ve put a picture on the Basinga website of one very healthy individual who visits our food offerings every night and it would very exciting if it brings its young to the dish in a few months time.

Butterflies have absolutely loved the gorgeous weather that early April brought and you’ve reported many species including Brimstone, Red Admiral, Peacock, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Comma and one early Large White. Bee-flys, Bumble and Orange tailed Bees have been active and I was delighted to hear from Phil and Penny Jubin, our local apiarists, that the swarm they collected from our privet hedge late last summer, survived the winter iand one of their hives and are now becoming active. Phil described the 7,500 workers as ‘feisty’ so he’s very welcome to keep them there, hopefully to use their energy solely on pollen gathering!

Tim and Margaret Carr spotted a Kingfisher off of Pyotts Hill bridge and reported the first chiffchaff singing nearby too. This was on 21st March, so very early for this little migrant of the warbler family. Another started to sound off in the canal along Cavalier Road on 1st April (honest!) and hasn’t stopped since so he’s struggling to attract a mate by the sounds of it.

Just today (13th April) though summer definitely arrived at Lower Mill Farm with the arrival of the first Swallow, hopefully the first of several that nest in the barn there owned by David and Tricia Rocke.

Katie Wenlock was the first to report ‘babies’ (11th March) these being in the shape of half dozen Egyptian Geese near her workplace in Bramshill. They’re odd-looking gangly birds but someone loves them!

Stephen Thair was woken by a noisy Tawny Owl very close to his Park Lane house but next day was soothed as a couple of Goldcrests turned up in his big conifer tree, spinning their delightful little songs.

Stephen did also speculate whether more walkers on the common and the slightly early arrival of the livestock has put off the local Skylark population as there’s not been many singing, though Chris White heard three at the same time near Park Avenue/Park Lane junction on 23rd March. However, the lack of recent rain also means the grass growth has been stunted, that’s something I’d never imagine I’d say since the wettest winter on record!

If you managed to read April’s edition of the Basinga, you’ll recall that Magpies were building near the top of a large conifer in my rear garden eyeline, which is also the favourite perch of the Red Kites. I was thinking that war would break out but they seem to be just about tolerating each other for now. I doubt very much this peace will prevail when the eggs hatch though as Kites are partial to a nice tender chick!

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 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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