Nature Notes - February 2017
By Andy Ankers
I have recently calculated the rain fall at Wood Farm in 2016 - the total was 33.4 inches. This shows an increase over our average yearly figure due to a very wet June and December. I am aware that we are very lucky in our three villages as we seem to have less rain fall than areas within 10 miles of us. Many times we leave the village in very light drizzle only to find good steady rain further inland. If you watch the weather forecasts regularly you can observe that the areas around the lower River Dee and the River Mersey frequently miss the worst of the rainfall as we are influenced by the local micro-climate.
Have you noticed any activity with the Ladybirds recently? Last week (17 & 18th January) we had several warmer days which brought many Ladybirds back to life in the house. I must have removed some two dozen from the windows and now the cold weather has returned there are none to be seen.
As mentioned before I am very interested in bird behaviour - we have three Robins, two in the font garden and one in the back yard, each with their own territory. The bird in the back does not like the Nuthatch; as soon as it arrives at the peanut feeder the Robin chases it off. The Nuthatch does not give up but tries a different tack by coming in a different way to try to collect a peanut. I watched this going on for some 4 to 5 minutes before the Nuthatch was successful in getting a nut which it carried off to the Oak tree nearby to find its favourite place to wedge the nut in a crack in the bark of the tree to eat. This same Robin is tolerant of the Goldfinches, Chaffinches and all the Tits and Blackbirds, but does not like the Nuthatch.
While in Scotland last week I was talking to my friends neighbour, a committed country man with a passion for the wildlife in his area. The subject arose about the effect of introduced species on the local wildlife, ie:- Sea Eagles and Mink in their area along the west coast and on the islands, and Red Kites further inland. All three predators are very successful breeders so, are we coming to a situation where the predator/prey balance is being affected as their numbers increase? I am aware this is a very emotive subject but already Mountain Hares in certain areas are suffering, so also Eider and Shelduck along the coast. Hill sheep farmers are also concerned about the increasing number of attacks by Sea Eagles on lambs and even half grown sheep. Watching Countryfile recently a similar situation is slowly emerging re the Otter population along our rivers in England where they affect fish stocks.
Locally I am still to see a Redwing or a Fieldfare but I expect them any day soon to be feeding in the fields. This winter has seen a big influx of Waxwings into the country particularly Scotland, from the continent but again I have not seen any as yet.