Nature Notes - March 2018
We read in the press how spring is coming so many days earlier each year, perhaps this year could be different. As I write these notes in the last days of February we are having a taste of real winter with the snow and keen frosts at night. It is interesting to note that over the past week, bird song has been subdued as if to prepare for the bad weather to come. Survival is more important, i.e. feeding well over trying to hold territory when conditions are like this. I have not seen any signs of nest building or birds collecting nesting material; no doubt this will change very quickly once the cold snap passes. Some years ago, I do recall seeing photographs of early nesting birds like Herons and Rooks sitting on their tree top nests on eggs with snow on their back.
Having been unable to do much work outside in recent months, I have not put up my new bird box which I was given last Christmas or checked several others that need a little DIY to see them right for the coming season. I was also given a nest box camera which the family have fitted into a bird box on the house wall which will be very interesting if it is occupied this spring. I shall be able to enjoy some armchair bird watching on the TV!
I mentioned last month about the Mistle Thrushes on the winter wheat field. They still come occasionally but no sign of the Fieldfares or Redwings I was expecting as yet, but a welcome sight was a small flock of eighteen Curlew. Having had such a wet winter, the ground is very soft enabling the Curlew to probe deep into the soil. Watching them from the bedroom window with my binoculars I was amazed how successful they were at extracting worms and other grubs from the soil.
The activity around the bird feeders has been intense over these last cold days with Blue and Great Tits, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Dunnocks, House Sparrows, Starlings, Great Spotted Woodpeckers (both male and female) and Collared Doves as daily visitors. One special day this month was when a flock of eight Long-tailed Tits came to the peanut feeders. They stayed for ten minutes then moved off and we have not seen them since.
I leave you with a question: when did you last see a Hedgehog? The monitoring and recording of the population trends of Hedgehogs in the UK has been in place for some years. The findings have recently been published in 'The State of British Hedgehogs 2018' by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Once the weather warms up, Hedgehogs will be coming out of hibernations this month. If you see one, please let me know.