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Nature Notes - Jun 2017

20 May to 19 June 2017

Despite a surprisingly windy spell in early June, the weather has mostly been quite pleasant and has been extremely warm and sunny over the last couple of days. The prevailing dry weather is pretty good for nesting birds (particularly those in open nests) but is far less good for our local Hedgehogs. I mentioned last month the courting which seemed to be taking place on our patio, since then we have increasingly been visited only by the female Hedgehog. I’ve been supplementing her diet with cat food and meal worms but at the time of going to press (and contrary to my predictions last month), she hasn’t yet turned up with youngsters in tow. I understand other villagers have regular Hedgehog visitors, this may mean we are perhaps bucking the national trend (falling Hedgehog numbers) here in Norton? Or is it just a very small number of Hedgehogs travelling round everybody’s gardens and being very well fed?

One of my highlights this last month has been very regular visits from Bullfinches, feeding on the seeds of Forget Me Nots. These stunning finches are shy and quite elusive but they must be nesting somewhere round here, we actually had three cock birds feeding together one day. I’d hope to see the young in the garden with them, that would be a first for me.

The annual Kestrel ringing took place on 8 June, with four birds ringed. This is a reasonable brood, though we’ve regularly had five in recent years. Better still (in terms of scarcity) there was a Barn Owl on four eggs in a field-side box early in the month, possibly they will have hatched by now. Watch this space!

Another rarity, which may be getting commoner in the midlands with global warming, is the European Hornet – a fascinating creature, which I’ve spotted a number of times this month round the back of my house. While there have been a number of sightings, I have only seen one of these huge wasps at a time so possibly it is a solitary individual? It seems to show a keen interest in an otherwise empty bird box. I am told that whilst large and quite intimidating, European Hornets are actually less aggressive than our Common Wasp – though I don’t particularly want a nest of them by my back window!

In other news:-

  • Richard H reports a number of Yellowhammers seen in Green Lane earlier in June; hopefully these handsome buntings are still doing well in that part of the village, I’ve seen them there in the past and the late Eric Pithers regularly used to report them when he used to prepare these notes.

  • Becky T has seen a Holly Blue butterfly in Beswicks lane in late May.

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