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Nature Notes - May

May Nature Notes The month of May is one of my favourite times of the year, after the dreary days of winter the promise of warm sunny days and a feast of new life is a real pleasure for me. We may not have seen the snow this year but we have experienced long periods of very cold winds which have been unpleasant. There are times when you should ‘stop and stare’ and take in the view. The rich colour palette of the new growth on the various tree species, yes they are all green but look more closely and you find such a variety. Likewise the wild flowers in the hedgerows and along the roadside verges are coming into bloom, we are used to seeing the early carpets of yellow Dandelions but the white flowers of the Cow Parsley and Jack by the Hedge are now showing well. The Bluebells are almost at their best and this is a good time to go and see them if you know of a good spot where they grow under the tree canopy in large swathes. Our first Swallows arrived back at Wood Farm on the 7th April, this is a much earlier date than usual. We have seen birds around each day since with a maximum of 5 birds yesterday. On the R. Mersey count on 9th April we found many other summer migrants with Willow Warblers, Chiff Chaff, Blackcaps in the scrub growth at Stanlow Point and many Wheatears along the shore line. In the last few days we have been watching a pair of Blackbirds collecting food in the garden, their nest is close by but not in our garden. They fly over the boundary wall but soon returns to gather more food. The female has a liking for slugs, which she finds under the Osteospermum in the flower border. Once caught she takes them onto the path and wipes them vigorously to remove the slime before taking them to the nest. After a period of no sightings the male Woodpecker has returned, so we see both him and her daily on the peanuts. We are seeing the cock Pheasant regularly again this year, he has three hen Pheasants with him, they appear to be less shy and have even ventured into the garden. The Wren has built a lovely neat nest behind the trellis supporting the climbing Fuchsia. The male Wren builds several nests and then the female chooses one which she lines to raise her young in. I live in hope she will choose this one as I can watch it from inside my greenhouse. Returning home one evening last week we saw a Badger in Kinsey`s Lane running ahead of us. We followed it at a safe distance, it passed Yew Tree Farm and went round the corner, we followed only to find it had gone. The next day I found there is an animal track through the hedge which the Badger must have taken. (perhaps leading to Badger Cottage, who knows?) It is pleasing to see the butterflies coming out on a sunny day, the Orange-tip are very active now also we have seen Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock this Spring. As we await the arrival of the Swifts and every hopeful of a Cuckoo I hope you too will enjoy this time of year. Andy Ankers