Nature Notes - February 2018
Continuing my topic on annual rainfall, I have spoken to two friends locally who also keep rainfall records. Both had totals very similar to mine at 36.16 inches. One was 35 inches and the other 36 inches. I then asked my friend up in Scotland for his 2017 rainfall. I expected it to be higher than the Cheshire totals but I did not expect it to be so high at 64.9 inches. We grumble about the wet weather but I think we have little to worry about compared to other parts of the country.
The early signs of Spring have arrived although February can bring a sting in the tail with more frost and snow. A number of our song birds are starting to sing: Song Thrush, Great Tit, Robin and Dunnock. The Greater Spotted Woodpecker has been drumming in the past ten days in the old trees at the back of Wood Farm. It has one favourite dead branch which it chooses as a drumming post, right at the top of an Elm tree. It uses other trees as well but you can watch him through the binoculars at this site. We still have both male and female coming to the peanut feeders most days.
Several of you may have taken part in the RSPB's Great Garden Bird Watch over the weekend of 27/28 January. Typically several of the regular bird visitors did not show up in our one hour count. We have not recorded Greenfinches in our garden for many weeks but two birds appeared on the sunflower heart feeder. In total we recorded thirteen species of birds and one grey squirrel. This compares with the weekly winter total of between nineteen and twenty-two species each week for the British Trust for Ornithology Garden Bird Survey which I have done for many years.
The winter wheat sown in the field opposite Wood Farm has germinated well. We have watched small numbers of Mistle Thrushes, Redwings and Fieldfares feeding across the field but I am hoping to see many more this month as they prepare for their Spring migration back to northern breeding areas. Another noticeable change this week, the large Corvid flock has stopped coming to the same field. The Rooks are early nesting birds so I assume they have started the task of nest building. The established pairs will be busy refurbishing their old nest in the rookery, while the first time breeders will be trying to find a place for a new nest. All this activity means they will stay within a close proximity to the rookery.
The most positive sign of Spring are the flowering Snowdrops and once again the churchyard at St. James' is a lovely sight and they will be at their best around the middle of the month. We have much to look forward to in the coming weeks!