As the days get shorter and the nights draw in we will soon be saying 'bon voyage' to many of our migratory birds, most notably the Swallows and House Martins. By now Swifts will have already left although those with very late broods may still be here particularly if the weather stays warm (29 degrees C today!). The most vital thing that all these departing birds need is a good feed-up on insects before they go although most will stop off at the coast to do this before the long haul over water. David Rocke at Lower Mill Farm told me that he noted about 80 Swallows all lining up ready to go a couple of weeks back and although the numbers of nesters in his barn were down it was brilliant to see such a big group like this assemble in his yard.
We need to hope for their sakes they get the sustenance required as I’m sure everyone is aware of the sudden decline of all tiny flying things these days which is alarming to say the least. No longer after a long journey are our car windscreens and headlights a mass of black squashed insects and the air in the reduced light of a summers evening is almost clear of midges and mosquitoes. One supposes this is yet another warning about man's influence on climate, over use of pesticides or the way we manage our gardens and countryside.
It’s not all doom and gloom with some decent butterfly hatches, plenty of spiders and crane flies and some pretty scary creepy crawlies such as the Oil Beetle (see right) that Steve Western found and snapped in his house last week. Kind of makes you glad that insects are small as a 10 times version of this would be fearsome!
Whilst fishing a lake near Eversley earlier this month I was astonished to see a Red Kite swoop down and take a fish from the surface of the water. I couldn’t swear if it was a live catch or not but it just shows how adaptable these mighty raptors are. Speaking of which, earlier this year I reported that a gardener at the Rec allotments had seen and heard a Parakeet somewhere close. Well, a grainy image (see left) was put on Facebook last week of at least one at Rotherwick so ‘they are coming’. Originally escapees, allegedly from an aviary in London, owned by the late great Jimi Hendrix, the Parakeet has made itself at home in the parks and woodlands around the Capital and the Home Counties. They’re colourful, noisy and fun but they do displace our native tree dwellings birds so they are a problem too.
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.