Nature Notes – Jon Webster
Autumn is hurrying on towards Winter, although the temperature remains unseasonably warm, certainly good news for those who do not want to put the heating on. The breeding season of our feathered friends is well over now, and many summer visitors have already left for warmer climates.
Since the environment, biodiversity and sustainability are one of my main interests I have been trying to get an idea of the birdlife around the village, focussing on the old orchard at the end of Stonecourt Lane. This is an incredible feature to have in the village, albeit privately owned, there are a couple of bridleways, and footpaths which give excellent access to this area. At present it is a great example of rewilding in action, as native trees and shrubs start to take over from the apple trees.
Since I started watching in earnest in April, I’m now up to 36 species identified which shows the benefit of the area. There appears to have been an explosion of Goldfinches, that make a tinkling bell like call when in flight, and earlier in the year there was an abundance of the summer visiting Chiffchaff again with a distinctive call, and other Warblers including the blackcap, whitethroat, wood, and garden warblers were seen on occasions. The prize sighting was that of a single red kite overhead in May, they have been reintroduced along the M4 and M25 corridors, but I have never seen one here before.
The big disappointment this year was the missing call of the Cuckoo from April onwards, this is the first year since we moved to the village nearly 30 years ago, I have not heard this messenger of the English Summer. So too were swift, swallow, and house marten numbers down.
Hopefully we shall be seeing the arrival from Siberia of Fieldfares and Redwings , both large thrushes, which in the past I have seen in great numbers feeding around the old apple trees in flocks of up to a hundred. Do keep an eye out for them.
On a final note, the RSPB undertake a Garden Birdwatch every January – if you are interested in taking part (its very simple) go to the RSPB website in early January to register.