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Andy Ankers' Nature Notes - June 2017

Andy's latest instalment of 'Nature Notes' sees him reflect on all the birds currently in full song around his Wood Farm home, an update from his regular 'duck count' on the banks of the River Mersey and the relationship between rabbits and buzzards in the local area.

Nature Notes – June 2017 - Andy Ankers

As I write these notes we are just in the second half of May and the Song Thrush, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Robin, Wren and Blackcap are still in full song. To me it is a joy to go outside on a still evening and just listen to the chorus such as the Swallows twittering away perched on the overhead wires – we have been waiting for their return and now they are here. Great! The local House Martins have only just returned but I have not seen a Swift over Wood Farm as yet this spring. We have at least four of our nest boxes occupied with broods of young Blue Tits which is good but sadly no Tree Sparrow’s nesting as yet. A single bird has been sitting on the top of one box, calling for the past week but so far no mate has turned up. We had one of our local Robins build its nest in the old hen-cote (which I now use as my garden potting shed) amongst the plant pots and the young have now fledged. The Blackbirds also have a nest close by as we have been watching the adult birds gathering food on the lawn. These too could have just fledged as the parents were very agitated as we walked in the garden yesterday (20th May). Many House Sparrows are feeding fledged young from their first broods. I watched two adult birds each with three young feeding on the lawn. It appeared they were catching live insects and sharing them with their youngsters.

The May count on the River Mersey was a very low one as you would expect at this time of the year, in fact the lowest I can record. No-one saw a redshank and only a single duck, Teal (main picture). We recorded just two Dunlin, both in full summer plumage – these birds flew in, landed on the mud in front of us and stayed there as though they were exhausted on their migration. Even when the tide came in around them they did not move until the water was so deep they swam ashore.

We did see several Whimbrel (pictured left below), the smaller cousin of the Curlew, as they were passing through on their way north. The most interesting birds were the Warblers in the canal / riverside scrubland, Linnets, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler (pictured middle below) and even a Lesser Whitethroat (pictured right below).

I have not seen a rabbit in the Kinseys Lane area for some considerable time but to my surprise a half grown one bolted out of the roadside vegetation and ran up the road in front of the car and turned into the paddock recently. The loss of the rabbit may be partly responsible for the loss of our local Buzzards. Two pairs had territories in recent years, one nested in the small spinney by the canal and the other in the wood along the road from us. Rabbits are an important prey item to Buzzards, the lack of them may be the reason why the birds have moved away this year.

This spring I have seen all the usual butterflies in the garden but their sightings have been few and far between. I am hoping that when the rain comes it will trigger the right conditions for the butterfly chrysalis to hatch.

Written on 5th Jun 2017

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