Nature Notes - May 2018
The arrival of the first summer migrant is always special to me. This year the first sightings of Swallows was on Sunday 8th April. My wife and I were coming home after church from the village and we were told that six Swallows had been seen feeding over the Manchester Ship Canal around 11am. By 2pm we had two Swallows perched on the wires at Wood Farm and since then we have seen them regularly. I am hoping they will stay and nest again this year.
The few days of a heat wave between 18th and 21st April brought the first Butterflies out. I recorded Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and many Orange-Tips, mainly feeding on the Primula Wonder which is a very old variety which we have grown in our garden for over fifty years. It does have an attraction for the insects at this time of year.
The 'one that got away'. I was looking out across the front field last week when I noticed a large bird of prey heading towards me flying fairly low down. At first I thought it was a Buzzard, then it turned and I was aware of its long narrow wings, uniform dark brown plumage and its very long tail. Having consulted the bird guides the only bird I could find to fit the description is a Black Kite but these are rare visitors from the Continent. Sadly it was a very brief view as it continued out towards the river.
We have our first fledged young birds of the year. A pair of Robins built their nest in the top of a bag of wood chippings in the open fronted garage at the back of Wood Farm house. We have been watching them over the past three weeks and today (25th April) the nest is empty. We were quite relieved as the Magpies and Crows come down daily to collect any leftovers under the bird feeders and could quite easily have heard the young Robins calling and then destroyed the young and the nest.
Two other species that have returned to breed are a pair of Pheasants and Stock Doves. Although my hearing is not as good as it was, I still enjoy the sound of the spring chorus: Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Wren, the Tit family and the first Blackcap.